THE NET – The future of data is Wearables

THE NET (Part 1)

The plot goes something like this – Sandra Bullock plays a computer expert Angela Benett, her life changes when she is sent a program with a crazy glitch to ‘de-bug’. Soon she finds out some vital government information on the disk, things gets nutty as fruitcake, her life becomes a nightmare with her records getting erased and she is given a new identity of some chick with a criminal record. That was 1995 and now it’s 2014; imagine if something like this was possible back then, what can be done now.

Identity Theft problem

Today, each of us has so much personal digital data out there that it is possible for someone to steal an entire online identity and cause real damage offline.

You already know that your personal information and references to your social media presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr etc. are easily accessible through a simple google search. This is the data that you know about and it is just a fraction of what can be unearthed with a little drilling. The scary part is the data that you don’t know is constantly being collected, like your location data. Multiple apps collect location data and track your movements 24×7. Apart from your mobile phone if you use a smart card to pay road-toll or access public transport, you can be tracked by that as well. Some companies are taking this to the next level by using location data to confirm that employees not in the office are actually where they claim to be.

On the financial front, every time you swipe a credit or debit card you release more digital information. A marketer may analyse credit card purchases and deduce likely interests. Online retail giants like Amazon and Ebay use such deduction algorithms to offers hints such as “People who viewed this product also looked at the following products.” Indian players like Myntra and Flipkart also use similar analyses. Recommendation systems can help people find interesting things. Amazon’s recommendation system has helped the technology giant harvest billions in sales increase and NETFLIX is another such success story.

Put all these bits and pieces together with just a little online snooping and you could create a detailed composite of an individual’s identity. This may sound like a crime fiction but the basis for it is visible everywhere, if you know where to look. Maybe it’s high time you give a thought to the question – “how public is your private life.”


Let’s look at the hind side with something called ‘Wearables’, a technology which aims to make life easier. With wearable technology, learning more about yourself has not only become high tech but also real time. From devices and apps that help you track heart rate and food consumption patterns to gadgets that monitor your mood and even surrounding air quality.

Wearable Technology
Wearable Technology


I believe there are four major ways wearables can help improve our life:-

1.  Wearables that keep us FIT – A great example is a bracelet which tracks your body activity levels, your nutrient intake and thereby help you improve your fitness. NIKE-Fuelband is one such (very popular) product.

2. Wearables that save lives – There are wearables which are not only crucial to your health but can also save lives. A wearable health monitor and GPS location device keeps track of the elderly and can alert their caregivers when something is wrong.

3. Wearables that keep us safe – An average smartphone user checks their phone 34 times a day. With people constantly looking at their devices on the go, lapses of concentration could prove dangerous. This is where devices such as Google Glass come into play. Apart from improving safety, these devices category of devices could revolutionize the way we communicate in the future.

4. Wearables that make things fun – There are whole range of wearable gadgets that aim to add the fun quotient apart from making life easier, safer and healthier.

Today the biggest market in wearable technology is health and fitness. Big companies are putting wearables to work to figure out how to use these kinds of gadget to improve their business. They are giving wearables to employees and customers to gather subtle data about how they move and act and then use that information to help them do their jobs better or improve their buying experience. However there is a big risk involved. People will naturally resist real world intrusion into their privacy, so businesses needs to be very careful about asking employees and customers to strap gadgets on their head, neck, wrists etc. This compels me to think that we need to truly evaluate the real need of wearable technology. Much of what is being done with wearable devices is happening simply because it can be done. However, several users still are not sure about wearables and whether they want to walk around with devices strapped to them all day. Is this the paradox of wearables?

Having said all this, I see a silver lining; with wearables, every individual becomes a data generator and transmitter. We generate data that is continuously collected by various government agencies and private companies. This data can be monetised and can also be used to make life easier for the people, what we need to make sure is that the data do not get manipulated or misused because no one would want to be in Angela Benett’s shoes.

This blog is authored by Rohit Yadav, Analytics consultant at BRIDGEi2i Analytics

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