Users Could Find New CES ‘Wearables’ Painfully Restrictive

The early reports from CES indicate wearable devices continue to be the hot item. Among the early headliners:

  • Samsung’s WELT wellness belt, which is really a backpack that charges phones via solar panels, among other things;
  • Samsung’s Smart Suit, which to my view does fairly mundane tasks like like unlocking your phone when you take it out of your pocket;
  • Samsung’s lab also made a golf shirt that can sense the weather and UV ratings;

    Samsung’s Smart Suit

  • Under Armour’s Healthbox, which features an activity tracker, chest strap and smart scale; and Samsung’s Body Compass 2.0, a sensor-laden workout suit that performs similar tasks;
  • MadRat’s Supersuit, which is designed to play laser tag and other such games in a closed space;
  • MadRat’s SuperSuit

    Also coming from UA, a smart running shoe that tracks movement and lets users know when the shoe should be replaced.

What these devices have in common is the ability for users to track their activity — and by extension, their wellness — in real-time and on multiple platforms including their smartphones. What they can also do is amass a terrific amount of data that may or may not be used for their original intended purposes. In short, if you can collect and review the data, so can someone else.

Consider: What if health insurers were to require policyholders to wear devices that tracked such details? And what if your insurance rates were to climb simply on the basis of a weekend ice-cream binge? What if auto insurers could tell that you had activated your cellphone while in a driving, and could cancel your policy on the basis of that information? What if it was learned that you habitually played 18 holes during high ozone days?

While the ability to monitor one’s health using actual real-time data is eye-opening, are we opening a door to such data being misused, or at least, applied in a fashion that could have very real and life-changing implications for the user?