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Wearable Tech Gets a Boost from the Cloud

June 14, 2013 No Comments

It seems the cloud is making a bit of a fashion statement by propelling the latest in wearable technology.

More users are turning to cloud-enabled headgear such as Google Glass and other items such as fitness monitors, smart watches and wearable cameras, but a study shows questions still surround the effectiveness of the new technology — and reveals some privacy fears as well.

A report from Rackspace Hosting found that the rise of wearable technology will fuel the rise of the “human cloud.”

Cloud powered wearable tech like Google Glass is creating quite a brouhaha from people who like it as a new way to navigate the world to those opposed to its potential invasion of privacy, according to Forbes.

The report, “The Human Cloud: Wearable Technology from Novelty to Productivity,” examined the responses of 4,000 UK and US adults, as well as collaborating with experts from the Center for Creative and Social Technology (CAST).

Cloud-powered wearable technology is already enhancing people’s lives: This technology may be new, but adoption rates are substantial with 18% of surveyed adults already using wearable devices. A majority of the device users (82% in the US and 71% in the UK) believe that these cloud-powered devices have enhanced their lives. “The appeal of wearable technology is down to the rich data generated by the devices, which is stored and analyzed in the cloud,” according to the study. “The ability to access these insights from the cloud – anywhere, anytime – enables wearable technology users to boost their intelligence, confidence, health, fitness and even their love lives.”

The study found that 47% of the wearable technology users felt more intelligent, and 61% felt more informed. Another 37% stated that wearable technology helped with career development, while 61% claimed that their personal efficiency improved.

Data capture and analysis needs to improve: The study of 26 technology-wearing individuals found frustration with the quality and accuracy of data provided by wearable technology devices. For example, according to the study’s authors, a 42- year-old web strategist who trialed a wristband app that tracks sleep, movements, and eating habits, “was originally impressed with the device because it looked good, had a simple design and was light to wear. However, frustration set in once he starting monitoring the data tracked by the device. He found analysis around his calorie consumption inaccurate.” In addition, the device did not track all of the fitness activity he engaged in, the researchers report.

Privacy concerns abound: There remain serious concerns about privacy, with over half (51%) of respondents citing it as a barrier to adoption. Almost two thirds (62%) think Google Glass and other wearable devices “should be regulated in some form,” while one in five (20%) say these devices should “be banned entirely.”

Yet, some users will be willing to share their data with government agencies and insurers: “The research revealed that citizens may be willing to share the data generated by wearable technology with central or local government, enabling authorities to crowd-source insights which can be used to enhance public services,” according to the study. About one-fifth of the survey respondents would be willing to use a wearable device that monitors location for central government activity. In addition, one-third would be willing to use a wearable health and fitness monitor that shares personal data with government healthcare agencies or healthcare providers. “We are already seeing wearable technology being used in the private sector with health insurance firms encouraging members to use wearable fitness devices to earn rewards for maintaining a healthier lifestyle,” according to the study. “It is likely that the public sector will look to capitalize on the wearable technology trend with a view to boosting tele-health and smart-city programs.”

Patrick Burke

Patrick Burke is a writer and editor based in the greater New York area and occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting

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