Wearables Stoke Privacy Concerns

A majority of consumers are wary of about the privacy implications of wearable devices and the data they collect.

Businesses hoping to capitalize on the wearables boom will need to first lay consumers' privacy concerns to rest, according to a report from Acquity Group, an Accenture digital marketing division.

Eighty percent of the 2,000 surveyed for the group's "2014 State of the Internet of Things Study" expressed worries that wearable devices could infringe on their privacy. Predictably, that figure drops when they are otherwise incentivized. Half of those polled said that they could be coaxed into sharing personal data if they were treated to discounts and coupons.

In potentially good news for makers of health-related wearables, a slim majority of respondents (53 percent) said that they would be willing to share data with doctors. Some are even willing to let their wearables update friends (17 percent) and family (27 percent).

A significant number, just under 40 percent, are unwilling to share wearables data with anyone.

The issue is compounded by the "great deal of uncertainty [that exists] around the security of these connected devices," said Acquity Group in a statement. "Companies will have to address consumers' very real security concerns before any widespread adoption can take root."

Adoption also may be stymied by a range of societal factors and the very nature of the current wearables market, said CCS Insight, a telecommunications and technology research firm.

Marina Koytcheva, Director of Forecasting at CCS Insight, noted that the "market is still in a chaotic stage of development," in a statement. "Every category faces different risks: the way people use wearables is still changing, one type of device could kill sales in another category, people are unsure whether some wearables are socially acceptable, and intellectual property rights are a minefield for the dozens of start-ups entering the wearables market."

Nonetheless, her firm expects wearables shipments to reach 22 million this year, a 129 percent gain over the 9.7 million units shipped in 2013. "We believe this will fuel strong growth in the final quarter of 2014 for smart bands, particularly fitness trackers, which will account for more than half of the 35 million wearables in use at end of 2014," stated Koytcheva.

By 2018, the firm's forecast calls for shipments of 135 million wearables in 2018. The majority of those devices will be smartwatches and smart bands. Wrist-worn devices will make up 87 percent of all the wearables that ship in 2018, predicts CCS Insight, a figure that represents "68 million smartwatches and 50 million smart bands," said the company.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.




Tags: wearables, privacy and security


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