Wearables, IoT, and Big Data
According to Dataconomy, this year’s BARC study shows 83% of companies already invested in Big Data, or planning future engagement – a 20% increase on Gartner’s 2013 calculations. The Internet of Things has changed our data collection processes from computer-bound functions to real-world operations, with newly-connected everyday objects providing in-depth information around individual habits, preferences, and personal stats. This relative data allows companies to create and adapt their products and services for enhanced user experiences and personalized services.
With Fitbit’s second quarter revenue of $400 million tripling expectations, and reported sales of 4.5 million devices in this second quarter alone, it’s obvious that health-conscious individuals are eager to make use of the fitness benefits Wearables offer. However, Wearables are not only encouraging users to be more active but are being used to simplify and transform patient-centric care. Able to monitor heart rate and vital signs as well as activity levels, Wearables are able to alert users, doctors, emergency response or family members of signs of distress. The heart rates of those with heart disease can be carefully monitored, alerts can discourage users from harmful behaviors and encourage positive ones, surgeons can use smart glasses to monitor vital signs during operations, and the vast quantities of data received can be used for epidemiological studies. Healthcare providers have many IoT opportunities available to them, and those correctly making use of them will improve patient welfare and treatment as well as ensure their own success.
Insurers also have a wealth of opportunities available to them should they properly utilize Wearables and the Internet of Things. By using data acquired from Wearables for more accurate underwriting, products can be tailored to the individual. Information such as location, level of exercise, driving record, medications used, work history, credit ratings, hobbies and interests, and spending habits can be acquired through data amalgamation, and instead of relying on client declarations, companies have access to more accurate and honest data.
Not only useful, Wearables and the Internet of Things have a strong base in amusement. Though these devices are accumulating enormous quantities of practical data, their primary purpose for users is often recreational. Macworld suggests the Apple Watch is not here to entertain, but the array of applications available would suggest otherwise. CIO looks at some weird and wacky Wearables that would suit anyone’s Christmas list, including Ping, a social networking garment; Motorola digital tattoos; tweeting bras; Peekiboo for seeing the world through your child’s eyes; and smart pajamas that let you know when your kids are ready for bed. Most of us don’t need any of these things, but we want them. And they all collect massive quantities of data by the microsecond.
But of course, all this data flying around comes with some serious risks, not least of all invasion of privacy. As the years have gone by, we’ve become less and less concerned about how much data we’re offering up, never considering its security or the implications of providing it. Questions around whether data recorded from Wearables is legally governed ‘personal data’ have arisen, and the collection and use of this data is likely to face some serious legal challenges in the future. It’s not likely Wearables are going to disappear, but shrewd developers are creating safer, more secure products to best navigate these waters.
By Jennifer Klostermann