News Column

Americans Not Sure About Wearable Tech

June 5, 2013
Google Glass

Wearable technologies such as Google Glass -- a tiny computer with a head mount -- are still in their infancy, but already Americans have a love-hate relationship with them.

Some 82% of wearable technology users believe these devices have enhanced their lives, but with privacy concerns mounting, almost two-thirds of consumers believe that Google Glass and other forms of wearable devices should be regulated in some form or another, according to a survey to be released today of 2,000 Americans by Rackspace, the cloud computing operator.

Wearable tech ranges from health and fitness monitors to people-tracking devices to smart glasses. "A whole generation will grow up with this technology and expect it to give them better and better information about themselves," says John Engates, chief technology officer at Rackspace. "This trend is unstoppable."

But unstoppable certainly doesn't mean perfect. In this case -- the survey results seem to show -- Americans are equally enamored of and concerned with wearable tech. While 59% say that wearable tech helps make them feel more in control of their lives, some 53% of those who don't wear it said it's because they have privacy concerns over sharing information, and 45% agree the devices are "too much like Big Brother."

Perhaps that's why only one in five consumers said they would be willing to use a wearable health and fitness device that shares personal health data with a health care provider.

Yes, the folks who make wearable technologies are fully aware of consumer privacy concerns, but they're betting these concerns will diminish -- much like that of consumers who used to fear purchasing things online.

"What's coming is revolutionary and will improve consumer health," says Robin Thurston, CEO and founder of MapMyFitness, a social network for runners, bikers and walkers. "The opportunity for individuals is so great, we'll overcome privacy concerns."

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Related: Porno a No-no for Google Glass

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Meanwhile, in the Rackspace study conducted online last month, U.S. consumers said wearable tech:

--Makes them buff. 67% of U.S. consumers said that wearable tech has improved their health and fitness

--Advances careers. About one in three said it has helped their career development.

--Boosts confidence. More than half said it has helped to aid their self-confidence.

--Aids romance. One in three said that wearable tech "boosts their love lives" by helping them stay in closer touch with their romantic interests.

--Makes them paranoid. 40% said they won't wear the technology because they don't want to infringe on the privacy of others.

--Needs regulation. Only 8% said the use of Google Glass is OK "in all situations."




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Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2013


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