Wearable Technology - Purav Analysing the social, ethical and environmental issue and benefits of wearable technology, with a proposed solution.

Overview

This page is all about wearable technology. It will look at the different aspects of wearable technology, specifically, Social, Ethical and Environmental issues, as well as its benefits. All the information that is presented is gathered from 4 different sources:

  1. Bule, designed. (2017, January 25). 10 jobs created by tech that didn’t exist 10 years ago. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from http://blog.nasstar.com/10-jobs-created-by-tech-that-didnt-exist-10-years-ago/
  2. Quinlan, J., & Rithmio. (2015, February 13). The Future of Wearable Tech. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from Innovation Insights, https://www.wired.com/insights/2015/02/the-future-of-wearable-tech/
  3. Stein, S. (2017, February 16). Best Wearable tech of 2017. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from https://www.cnet.com/au/topics/wearable-tech/best-wearable-tech/
  4. Yury, C. (2013, September 13). Wearable technology will change us. But how? Huffington Post. R e t r i e v e d f r o m http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carrie-yury/wearable-technology_b_3909254.html

After looking at the impact of wearable technology on the three aspects, a solution has been suggested, which ensures that the benefits of wearables outweighs the negatives that have been identified. Let’s get straight into it.

Social Issues

Another issue surfacing due to wearable technologies is the influence it has over the importance of social media in our lives. Not long ago, the only places to access social media were at a computer at home, or using laptop if you could afford one. Soon after, Steve Jobs came out with his brilliant iPhone, which made it so much more easier to access social media. With the invention of smartphones, the value and need of a person's social life began to increase. What needed a computer to work before, could now be accessed through a device in the pal of your hands. This made it possible for people to access social media by their phones on numerous occasions throughout their day. There were still times when you would not access your phone, say you left it in your bag, or you were at church not wanting to be rude, or it ran out of charge throughout the day. Enter wearable technology, specifically a smart watch. This device quenches your thirst for social media unlike any other, not 70% through the day, not 85%, but literally all throughout the day. From the moment you put it on until the time you take it off to go to bed, you are literally being bombarded by your social media. What grabs your attention more is not the person standing right in front of you who is talking to you, but rather the constant buzzing on your wrist which is caused by events possibly thousands of kilometres away. Every time you get a call, buzz! Every time your bestie posts, buzz! Every time your wife messages you, buzz! Every time your boss emails you, buzz! And, instead of having to take you phone out of your pocket, which may sometimes dismay you from checking, a simple glance at your wrist tells you everything you need to know. Or is it everything you think you need to know? You see, wearables are are definitely exaggerating the importance of social media, and this is definitely making it a big issue, because people are focusing so much on their social lives, and forgetting about actually living.

wearables exaggerate the importance of social media.

Another issue that stems from social media is breaching of privacy. To fill needs of social media, some smart watches have microphones. These are useful when needed, but can literally be used to secretly record private conversations, record phone calls, eavesdrop etc. If, for social media “needs”, wearables start featuring cameras, which I believe is not long away, then it would definitely be a hazard to privacy. It would be so easy for people to take inappropriate photos of others and in a world where this is possible, the word “privacy” would have lost its meaning.

Wearables are getting so technologically advanced, it’s impossible to keep up. Unlike a Fitbit or a smartwatch, your fitness or personal trainer cannot track your steps, cannot count the calories you burn, cannot remind you to exercise, or drink water, or do almost anything that your wearable can. Hence, the advancement of wearables threatens many jobs and not just that. As wearables rise in popularity, marketers will surely be ‘salivating at the prospect of pushing wearables advertising to you around the clock.’ (Wired T, 2017) With an advertising platform running 24/7, TV ads have no chance of survival. Not just that, with the ability to check news on your wrist, newspapers and news channels have nothing to compare. If the wearables market keeps expanding, in 5 years, there may be no newspapers, and 5 years after that, possibly no news channels. Why would anyone bother with these if you could get in on your wrist at any time? No one would have thought that newspapers could be threatened by wearables, and yet they are.

Environmental Issues

Factories polluting the air, adding to Global Warming.

However, in addition to these issues, there are other environmental factors to consider. Wearable technology, even smartphones, require power to work, and they get this when we charge them. As the popularity and demand for wearables increase, we need to realise that all these devices need to be charged, all of which require ports. This not only changes what we require in our homes but also changes what our cities may look. For example, my bedroom has only one port to charge all my devices, so I’ve had to purchase a powerpoint expander so that I can charge my iPad, MacBook, phone and toothbrush all off the one port! There are other example where this is already visible in our world today, where shopping centres house vending machines that sell power-banks. This is solely because our devices are so important for us that the thought of us not having access to them throughout the day makes us feel uneasy. Just think about it: you have left your house for a shopping trip and realise that you forgot you charge your phone last night. The battery is on 3% and is like a ticking time bomb. Once its out, its almost like you do not belong in the world anymore, not connected to anyone at all. This fear will be root of environmental changes that humans choose to implement.

Tokyo at night.

Our wearables not only require power but also internet, specifically wifi. We all have wifi at home, but as wearables rise in popularity, so will our need for wifi everywhere. This brings about so many possible environmental change, some of which are already evident today. Just look at all the Telstra Air booths that have been erected across Australia, giving Telstra customers access to wifi anywhere! Even shopping centres, restaurants and cafes offer free wifi. We are not far away from being in a world where going to a place that does not offer wifi will actually put people off. Soon in the future, even more wifi booths and charging stations will be constructed to cater to the needs of the population. Hence, we can see that the rise of wearables will affect the environment in a multitude of ways, possibly in even more ways than smartphones did. Obviously, these are environmental factors, and not issues. However, we need to consider them, as they could potentially become issues.

Telstra Air booth.

Wearables even use other ways to positively impact our social lives. The idea of wearables started most likely off of the concept of a fitness tracker, and now, most wearables can track, count, and remind you to exercise and stay fit. The outdoor activities that wearables suggest actually help us get away from our “social-life”, and actually take a step into the social world. For example, going out for a run with your family, or catching up with friends for a game of tennis, are some of the ways in which wearable technology has helped us socially. It’s funny when you think about it. Wearables make it easy for us to access social media and to help us to stay connected with people who we want to stay connected with. Then, at the same time, wearables encourage us to be go out, exercise, and be fit, causing us to spend more time with family and friends, people who matter the most to us. Looking at these benefits, we can clearly see that wearable technology has a vast amount of positive impact on the social aspects of our lives. Even though wearables seem to exaggerate the importance of social media in our lives, at the same time, they also encourage us to do other activities that add to our lives and improve our well-being.

Looking at the environmental benefits of wearables, it is easily noticed that the environmental benefits outweigh the issues. This is because so many wearable devices are starting to become environmental friendly. For example, to rid the need of having to use electricity to power devices, the 2014 Tommy Hilfiger clothing contains solar cells which can be used to power devices. Another company, AMPY, has invented a product that converts kinetic motion of our bodies into battery power for our devices. This product not only helps the environment by not using electricity but actually also encourages people to move our bodies, also known as: walking, running, bike riding etc. Another example of this is in the form of a ring which uses body heat to light up. Although this does not seem to be wearable “technology” as such, we can easily see how this technique could advance and potentially be used to power our wearable devices!

Another environmental benefit of wearable technology is that this gives light to other technological advancements such as smart light bulbs, smart air conditioners, smart locks, etc. As we can already see in the world, there are many automated houses, which refers to houses that contains appliances such as light bulbs, fans, air-cons, washers, fridges, all of which can be controlled using our devices through the internet.

Automated House Illustration.

For example, soon in the future, as soon as you wake up in your bed, the boiler will turn on, making you a cup of coffee, and your bath tub will start to fill up. Then, as you walk across the living room, the ‘sensor on your wrist wearable notices your core body temperature is above average and automatically interacts with Nest thermostat to trigger the air conditioning’. (Wired T, 2017)

Self-learning Thermostat by Nest Labs

These are the kind of technologies that tech specialists suggest are not long away. However, there are many other “smart” technologies that could arise, such as smart tables, smart chairs, smart-locks on doors, which may use the ‘heartbeat signature via your wearable’ to unlock the door. (Wired T, 2017) These are environmental benefits for people as they save time having to do all this small tasks, which means that they have more time to do what they want to, such as meeting up with people, going out with friends, date nights with a loved one, etc. As technology improves and helps us to save time on unproductive activities, that is when wearable technology will reach the pinnacle of their impact. At the same time, as devices start to become more technology oriented, we could see a decline in the use of wood in furniture and products. For example, wood is a common ingredient of doors, however, once doors start becoming ‘smart’, they will most likely be built out of metal, and this would cause a decline in the use of wood. Similarly, as other furnitures start becoming smart, such as tables, chairs, etc, we will see a huge decline in the use of wood, which would stop deforestation. Hence, it is clearly visible that the environmental benefit of wearable technology outweighs its issues.

Solution

Evaluation

Contexts

Completing the multimodal task in ITS classrooms had a positive overall impact on the whole project. Working in the ITS room, we always had access to Mrs Kritzinger’s prestigious knowledge, and this was helpful and would clear all doubts I had. Her assistance made the task much easier as she broke the whole project into multiple sections which could be completed in parts. In addition to professional assistance, prior knowledge in app icon design definitely helped (Grade 10). For example, in Grade 10 we looked at an existing website (Mueller College's website), and the project was to create an app design for the app. This task gave the students a very good insight into the different aspects of app design, and this information proved to be extremely helpful during the development of this presentation.

However, working with other students was sometimes a bit distracting. For example, there were times when others would ask me for my opinion on their design, and sometimes, this lead to distracting conversations. This was probably the only drawback of working in the ITS rooms during school hours. Hence, to overcome this issue, extra work had to be done at home. This definitely helped complete the project in the time constraints.

Evaluation

Inputs

There were few physical resources which had an impact on the making of the project. The typing of the assignment draft was done in Pages, while the final was presented using Adobe Spark, Adobe Page, and Adobe video, all of which were used to make posts, videos, and present this in a beautifully designed web app/site. Some extra time was needed to get used to working with the Adobe products, but within some time, all three of the Adobe apps were easy to use. All apps used ran smoothly with no crashes or loss of data, which definitely helped.

The 4 web sources presented by Mrs Kritzinger definitely had most of the information that was needed, information about environmental impact of wearable technology was a bit scarce, but adding on previous knowledge about app design definitely helped to complete the project with a great solution and successful synthesis of information.

The four sources used in this presentation

Conclusion

In conclusion, we can clearly see how the solution would help the benefits of wearable technology outweigh its issues. The issues of wearable technology were tested against the criteria of Social, Ethical and Environmental. Although there was a lot of information about social and ethical issues in the four articles that were analysed, the articles did lack information about the environment. After identifying the issues, we looked at the benefits of wearable technology against the same criteria. In the end, the solution was to make the software of wearables extremely glanceable and actionable, which would make sure that we are not wasting time, and would also make sure that wearables are adding to our well-being.

Bibliography

  1. Bule, designed. (2017, January 25). 10 jobs created by tech that didn’t exist 10 years ago. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from http://blog.nasstar.com/10-jobs-created-by-tech-that-didnt-exist-10-years-ago/
  2. Quinlan, J., & Rithmio. (2015, February 13). The Future of Wearable Tech. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from Innovation Insights, https://www.wired.com/insights/2015/02/the-future-of-wearable-tech/
  3. Stein, S. (2017, February 16). Best Wearable tech of 2017. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from https://www.cnet.com/au/topics/wearable-tech/best-wearable-tech/
  4. Yury, C. (2013, September 13). Wearable technology will change us. But how? Huffington Post. R e t r i e v e d f r o m http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carrie-yury/wearable-technology_b_3909254.html

Credits:

Created with images by ErikaWittlieb - "apple watch iphone apple" • DariuszSankowski - "ios new mobile" • vernieman - "Samsung Gear Fit unboxing" • Foto-Rabe - "industry sunrise clouds" • TeroVesalainen - "idea innovation imagination"

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