Posted by Richard Willett - Memes and headline comments by David Icke Posted on 19 April 2024

A new wave of wearable devices will collect a mountain on information on us – we need to get wise about the privacy implications

By Luis Quintero, Stockholm University

Web and mobile services try to understand the desires and goals of users by analysing how their interact with their platforms. Smartphones, for instance, capture online data from users at a large scale and low cost.

Policymakers have reacted by enforcing mechanisms to mitigate the risks inherent in tech companies storing and processing their citizens’ private information, such as health data.

Wearable devices are now becoming a more significant element in this discussion due to their ability to collect continuous data, without the wearer necessarily being aware of it. Wearables such as smart watches gather an array of measurements on your wellbeing, such as sleep patterns, activity levels and heart fitness.

Today, there are portable devices to obtain high-quality data from brain activity, eye trackers, and the skin (to detect temperature and sweat). Consumers can buy small devices to measure the body’s responses that were exclusively available only to research institutions a few decades ago.

Although wearables are commercially focused on health monitoring, researchers have long envisioned capturing other kinds of data on a user. A computer that could collect useful information related to a person’s brain activity, heart and skin function, or their movement patterns would be able to understand a huge amount about the user.

But it’s AI that could prove a game changer. Smaller wearables combined with AI algorithms to process the data could produce tools that amplify and augment our goals and performance in life. But there are also downsides to all this information gathering.

Daily routines

Let’s imagine a world where wearables play a more prominent role daily. Smart beds could wake us up at the perfect time to feel rested by reading our body temperature, respiration and brain activity. Intelligent kitchens could help us eat more healthily, preparing a tailored diet based on chemical cues in our bloodstream (biomarkers). A smart bike would automatically change gears based on the changing inclination of the terrain, and on our fitness levels, to support an effective workout.

Smart glasses could analyse the responses of the pupils in our eyes and our overall eye movements to feed us content that we are likely to enjoy (supported by AI algorithms). Video calls could evolve into 3D full-body holograms of friends and family. Lastly, immersive entertainment could be projected in our living rooms or exist in headsets to become 360-degree experiences rather than being confined to flat screens.

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