Wearable technology – so much choice, so much data to sell?

Vandrico has recently updated its List of Wearable Devices which now features (at the time of this post) 118 such items, plus some interesting analysis.  It is indeed a most comprehensive and impressive listing, that underlines the growing importance of this sector. And still there are others, such as Apple, apparently still to join.

One aspect not mentioned by Vandrico, which is becoming increasingly concerning is the extent to which the business models of such apps might involve selling persona fitness data.  In spite of denials, this Mother Jones article suggests that worries persist. iMedicalApps reports that the practice is already well established with medical apps used by physicians in the US :

What may come as a surprise to many healthcare professionals is that many apps they frequently use like Medscape and Epocrates share users’ names, NPI numbers, and other identifying information with pharmaceutical advertisers. As it turns out, Facebook and Twitter have stricter privacy policies than some of your favorite free medical apps.

…and as Medpage Today reports, there are continuing concerns over medical apps too that transmit data (including that from wearables) to clinicians. Perhaps that will be solved by the sheer number of regulatory authorities now getting involved in this area in the US, as reported by MobiHealthNews?

What constitutes a wearable is of course debatable. Not currently on Vandrico’s list are Mbody’s smart shorts that arguably perform a most valuable service, particularly for rehabilitation to be sure both legs are fully fit. Also missing are B-shoes, although in fairness the parent company is still seeking funding to begin production. These are designed for older people to prevent them falling by detecting a possible fall and then rapidly moving using the half-track built into the heel to reposition them under the centre of gravity of the person. Such ingenuity, although I do wonder how some will cope with shoes with a mind of their own. Alternatively having shoes that come when called may be a selling feature!

Hat tips to Prof Mike Short for alerting me to Vandrico and to Dr Nicolas Robinson for Mbody.

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