Wearable tech. It’s all the rage don’t you know.
From glassholes (not you Neira, you’re cool) to joggers with glorified digital watches, people everywhere are getting excited about the next big thing in what I would describe as self-eroding privacy.
Whilst Google Glass owners may be in short supply, possibly put off by the cost, the number of people owning health and fitness gizmos seems to be on the rise, aided and abetted by other cool-to-have devices such as the newly released iPhone chunky that can help tap into all that data.
In some ways I can see why the ability to monitor fitness metrics could be quite enticing, allowing users to set their own goals and to motivate themselves through self-stretching of targets or via competition with others.
That said however, some performance measurements can lead to disappointment if you start getting into e-competition with other people who may have published their own results online, either intentionally or inadvertently (yes lads, two minutes of moderate exertion is pretty lame, or at least that’s what she said).
And that’s the problem you see – some health, wellness and fitness data should remain private from your family and even the lads or ladies down the pub. And I’m not just talking about the obvious faux pas linked to above either – other data really shouldn’t be common knowledge in my opinion, or at least not so common that it appears on the web.
Comparing heartbeats and other metrics at the gym could be a good thing but sharing such data with a mechanism that is easily scoured and mined by who knows who is not so good is it? I mean, would you want your insurance company to know that you are a 30-year-old with the fitness level of a pensioner? It’s ok, I know it’s not your fault, it’s all that sitting at a desk and the pizzas, well, they’re just too nice. But what would an underwriter think? Higher premiums perhaps? I don’t see why not.
After all, who are you sharing that data with? Do you even know? Has the app developer made it clear during the signup and installation routine? Did you even bother reading all that gumpf when you downloaded it?
Does the app developer have a social networking aspect where you can share and compare data? Who has access to what? Is the data made public such as in the example above where ‘performance’ data appeared in Google search results? Are data-storing websites secure? Does your smartwatch company sell your data to third parties or share it with them?
So many questions, all of which could have a huge impact on your privacy.
And just what benefits are you getting any way?
Is your health improving? Will a wearable make you fitter? Surely self-motivation is key, not technology.
And what does your doctor make of all this data you are producing about your health? Not much, to be honest. In fact a new survey of physicians here in the UK highlights a potential problem with the new army of high-tech health buffs – many are self-diagnosing but they’re not very good at it.
In fact, less than 5% of doctors thought that health apps and websites offered any kind of value as patients start taking it upon themselves to figure out their own health and fitness routines or even research their own perceived medical conditions.
Heaven forbid that someone would take the advice of a watch over their GP but I guess its happening already and will only become more commonplace in the future.
In case you haven’t guessed already, I don’t like wearable tech. It’s too invasive by nature and the data it produces is arguably not secure or private enough by default, nevermind should someone ever decide to target it. And it’s usefulness? For some people such devices could be invaluable in enhancing their training routines but then I would guess such people would probably do ok without it anyway. For everyone else? What do you think?