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What is Wearable Technology and what are the concerns?

19 November 2020

Wearable technology being any device that is connected to the body in some form to measure or enhance the bodies capability. The 13th century brought the first known wearable device; corrective lenses. And over the next 700 years followed a number of inventions that people use by wearing and some formed the primitive ideas for more modern technology. The modern definition of wearable technology is that it contains a microprocessor and internet connection.


Modern Wearable Technology

The 21st century has been when modern personal technology has boomed. The advances in computer technology paved the way for many devices that we now consider part of our daily lives. In 2002 the new Bluetooth technology opened the door to many further creative solutions and improvements to wearable technology. Over the two decades that have followed saw the connection of an increasing number of wearable technology devices to smartphones, they include;

  • Hearables (e.g. wireless headsets)
  • Smartwatches
  • Fitness &activity trackers
  • Smart clothing
  • Head-mounted devices (VR/AR)
  • Skin patches


While many of the devices are constantly improved and redesigned for aesthetics and performance, one function that is being developed further is the use of biometrics in wearable technology. It’s now common to have within smartphones sensors that enable fingerprint scanning to be used as a security measure for the phone itself but also for some of our daily functions that take place on the phone such us banking authentication and payment approval. Another type of biometric measure is the information that can be collected about a person relating to their health; heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation levels, sleep data. This information can be used in remote healthcare solutions, where a patient’s overall health is monitored in their normal environment with them having to come into a clinic/hospital for check-ups. The advantages of such technology will have benefits for both patients and healthcare providers. It won’t be just the smartwatches and fitness trackers that will become more popular, ‘smart’ clothing will have even better scope to collect biometric data as it’s worn closer to the skin and covers a wider area. While its already in the market, its expected the advancement in technology and potentially lower costs will over time make it more popular.    


The global wearable technology market size is estimated to be at over $32 billion in 2020, and it’s expected to more than double by 2027. Much of the growth is expected to be driven by IoT and connected devices coupled with an increasingly tech-savvy population, while the advantages are clear to see there are also concerns relating to data privacy.


Wearable Technology Data Privacy

The large volume of data being collected by the devices brings with it the concern of how data is being stored and used by the companies. The way these companies manage their data is crucial as poor data management will potentially lead to the data being breached by a malicious third party. It is crucial for companies to continue to improve both software and hardware to reduce vulnerabilities and increase data security. The other issue that is often a concern is ownership of the data, the privacy policy of the company collecting the data should indicate this. However, most users of the services are unaware of this as the policy is not likely to be read often. The issue of data privacy has yet to be solved and settled, and it is also the issue that can potentially hold back the growth of the market, with some consumer resistance to adopting wearable technology for this reason despite the advantages it brings.