Wearable Technology Will it benefit society or hinder it in the long run?

Technology is moving forward and getting better everyday helping us to advance in an information based era.

The 1st generation iPhone was released nearly 10 years ago and subsequent models and variants have been released almost annually since then (Dolan, 2006).

In 2015, Apple released the Apple Watch, a 'smartwatch' which performs many app functions, acts as a fitness tracker along with the ability to send and receive voice calls via an iPhone (Etherington, 2015).

The Apple Watch was obviously designed to benefit society but, what social, ethical and environmental issues arise from having access to wearable technology?

What are the pros and cons?

This question will first be analysed and examined in detail by identifying key ideas in the stimulus materials provided. The information, research and data gathered will then be integrated and synthesised to flesh out the relevant information.

The question will be answered and a solution will be created to ensure that the benefits outweigh the negatives.

The final solution will then be evaluated and assessed to form an idea as to whether on not the solution will work or not.

Benefits

With this rapid progression in technology, the benefits of wearables, like the Apple Watch, seem almost endless. One of the most important advantages of wearable technology is the creation of jobs. Software on phones used to be clunky and all it could do was take a grainy photo and play snake. Today apps have become an essential part of our lives so much so that half the world’s adult population now own a smartphone (Bule, 2017). The need for apps and their developers is huge now. A job in app development didn't even exist 10 years ago, let alone the iPhone. Giving people jobs is important for society and keeping the world turning.

With special partnership watches from Hermes and Nike, the new Apple Watch Series 2, which adds waterproofing and GPS, is better at tracking fitness than ever before (Stein, 2017). Another benefit to society then, is that people will keep active and be more motivated to exercise through the use of their smartwatches.

Finally, smartwatches will evolve and improve over time helping to further advance society towards a technology-based future. Moore's Law states that 'as components get smaller, products gain efficiency and become more powerful' and in order to gain that efficiency alternative forms of energy to power wearables will increase (Quinlan, 2015). Escalation in effectiveness will be key for manufacturers as approximations will no longer suffice as more people demand accuracy from devices.

There is no doubt that wearable technology can be extremely beneficial for the world but, if something is too good to be true, it usually is. So, what are the issues of having technology literally at your fingertips?

Expectation v Reality

Issues

Along with the advancements made to technology and 'wearables' there come a number of benefits however, there also comes a lot of issues surrounding their usage in society. Although the new Apple Watch Series 2, thanks to Hermes and Nike, will keep users active and help them gain fitness, does this mean the end of fitness trackers, such as FitBit, since the Apple Watch can track fitness plus so much more? "I have a confession to make. Despite my specialization in wearable technology, I haven’t worn my FitBit in months. I’m not the only one" proclaimed Jen Quinlan and that was back in 2015 (Quinlan, 2015). Since wearable devices such as the Apple Watch have the ability to perform a myriad of tasks more than a simple fitness tracker, are fitness trackers, such as FitBit, going to become obsolete?

Jen Quinlan confesses to not having worm her FitBit in months.

Not only that, many people found the first wave of wearables came up short with high price points, undesirable form factors and wayward accuracy causing a 30% return rate and high product abandonment after six months (Quinlan, 2015). This poses the environmental threat of having returned and inevitably old and obsolete wearables on manufacturers hands with nowhere to go. What happens to all of these thousands of wearables when they become out of date and what does that mean for the sustainability of the planet?

Wearable technology also has the potential to make us more anti-social than ever before as we spend our time staring at screens rather than taking in the world around us. A study led by Nottingham Trent University in 2015 discovered that the average person checks their device 85 times a day and spends up to 5 hours using apps and surfing the World Wide Web (Woollaston, 2015). Wearable technology also brings up plenty of new ways of disregarding etiquette, allowing technology to come in between us and changing the way we interact (Yury, 2013). A world full of beneficiary technology is one thing but, a world with anti-social people in it would become a major issue in the long run.

"When you're too busy looking down, you don't see the chances you miss"

This isolated future can be prevented though by creating a solution that ensures that wearable technology continues to benefit mankind instead of causing potential threats.

Solution

In order to ensure that the benefits outweigh the negatives, a solution to the aforementioned issues will need to be created. One way to prevent pollution and deteriorating the planet is to recycle old and out of date wearables and use the parts for future devices. Recycling parts provides a safeguard for the environment and makes sure that wearable technology keeps the planet green. Experimenting with forms of renewable energy alternative to what's currently available couldn't hurt either.

Conclusion

Sorry Mrs. Kritzinger!

Bibliography

Stimulus Materials

Bule, designed. (2017, January 25). 10 jobs created by tech that didn’t exist 10 years ago. Retrieved February 23, 2017

Quinlan, J., & Rithmio. (2015, February 13). The Future of Wearable Tech. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from Innovation Insights

Stein, S. (2017, February 16). Best Wearable tech of 2017. Retrieved February 23, 2017

Yury, C. (2013, September 13). Wearable technology will change us. But how? Huffington Post.

Other Sources

Dolan, B. (2006, December 18). Timeline of apple “iPhone” rumors (1999-Present). Retrieved March 17, 2017

Etherington, D. (2015, January 27). Tim Cook says apple watch ships in april. Retrieved March 27, 2017

Woollaston, V. (2015, October 29). We check our phones 85 TIMES a day - twice as often than we realise. Daily Mail.

Credits:

Created with images by Pricenfees - "Apple Watch - Credit to https://www.pricenfees.com" • FirmBee - "mobile phone iphone" • ToomaCZ - "watch apple technology" • qimono - "philatelist stamp collection stamp" • WorldSkills UK - "The Skills Show 2012 - Day Three - Have a Go App Development" • skeeze - "running runner long distance" • londoncyclist - "The Apple Watch with our new iPhone app on an iPhone 5S Gold" • jungle_group - "Forest" • seagul - "renewable energy environment"

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