WEARABLES ARE GETTING OUT OF HAND. Or should I say wrist? (Sorry.) I don't know about you, but I feel like the tech industry is already saturated with the things and they've not even been around that long, well, compared with how long we've deemed tablets and smartphones the norm.
Consequently, in this relatively early stage of their 'explosion', I think it's difficult for anyone to put a finger on just what it is wearables are actually doing for us. Beneficial? Of course. Detrimental? That too. Gimmicky? Quite possibly.
Obviously they have their benefits. They have opened up personal data and allowed us to analyse it like never before, especially in fitness, giving dedicated athletes, for instance, the ability to measure all kinds of biometrics with specialist sensors such as heart rate monitors.
But it's not all roses. Wearables aren't always accurate. I've banged on about this before after doing a charity hike with a group of other journalists last year, when we all got different readings for the same journey from different wearables.
None of the devices came particularly close to the actual distances calculated using proper mapping tools.
And while some argue that wearables are great because they can provide enhanced communication, memory, sensing, recognition and logistical data, I worry that the side effect of this isn't such a good thing.
A wearable can filter your calls, provide a reference, monitor your health, remind you of a name, which, yes, is advantageous, but it leads me to wonder whether perhaps they are taking us to a place where we will rely on them a little too much.
There's already a huge concern about how smartphones are affecting our concentration spans, making us less engaged with the real world as more and more of the everyday becomes virtual. And I fear that wearables will merely facilitate this, and even make it even worse.
It's hard to determine how we will coexist with wearables in the future, mainly because at the moment it feels like no-one has cracked them yet so they still feel slightly experimental.
But part of me also feels that, when they do mature and become so valuable that we rely on them, it's not a future I necessarily want to be a part of. And coming from a technology journalist, that's quite a big thing to say.
What also worries me is that this growing trend of wearables isn't just limited to the personal space. It is mirrored in the business space too.
It's natural that similar devices will soon be widely used in the working environment as their adoption and use rises in mainstream society through fitness trackers and smartwatches, for example.
Kevin Curran, senior member of IEEE and senior lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Ulster, told me that offices of the future will be more connected than we can imagine.
"The first pipes dug into a building will be for the broadband cables. Water and sewerage pipes will be optional," he said.
"The wearables market will explode and, unlike with smartphones, office workers will have a plethora of single purpose wearables each performing particular functions in an optimal fashion."
Even wear your own device (WYOD) schemes in the office are becoming a thing. Yes, really. And some companies have started trials with employees to see how wearables can simplify processes and everyday actions, such as providing security clearance to buildings or tracking activities so that time is used efficiently.
"Wearables will play a role in authentication to computers, office door entry and opening office safes," predicted Curran.
"Wearables can provide a robust alternative to using passwords and Pins. They can play a role in most areas of the office where authentication of a service is necessary."
A major concern for me here is that, like smartphones, once we are under the spell of wearables and how they improve our working lives and abilities so that we can be more productive, for example, we will become more open to threats to data privacy, which is a deal breaker for me.
Tony Anscombe, senior security evangelist at AVG Technologies, told me in an interview that, as wearable devices advance and the technology inside them advances, the security risks go up as well.
"Taken into the workplace, there are valid concerns that wearables could be used to look at valuable corporate information or record a private conference meeting with very little scope for detecting, let alone protecting against, this scenario," said Anscombe, highlighting that there are other security issues to consider, such as a heightened threat of hijack attempts.
"Like any other device, wearables run on software and software can be vulnerable to attack," added Anscombe.
"As WYOD becomes an increasingly common extension of BYOD, wearables simply represent greater opportunities for attack. In essence, every extra device that enters the workplace is an extra route in for hackers."
And it won't just be the desk job that benefits, either. "Don't be surprised when, if you need surgery, the physician might be wearing a heads-up display that shows medical data or allows communication with a remote colleague that may be assisting in the procedure," he said.
In the uncertain future of wearables, will the good outweigh the bad? I guess we'll just have to wait and see. But I, for one, am not convinced it will be a favourable outcome. µ
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