Wearable technology sets the ‘Human Cloud’ in motion

- September 19, 2013 3 MIN READ

Rackspace Hosting recently commissioned a study in Australia regarding the use of wearable technology and its impact on consumers and businesses.

The study reveals that 35 percent of Australians have used wearable technology such as health and fitness monitors, smart glasses, watches, clothing, or cameras, ahead of 18 percent in the UK and US; and 64 percent of these believe these cloud-powered devices have enhanced their lives.

‘The Human Cloud: Wearable Technology from Novelty to Productivity’ study was commissioned by Rackspace and conducted by Pure Profile, which surveyed 750 Australians aged 18-64.

Key findings from the survey:

  • 67 percent of Australians who have used wearable technology stated that it has improved their health and fitness.
  • One in four believe that wearable tech has helped their career development.
  • 32 percent of Australian respondents that have used wearable tech say that it has made them feel more intelligent, and 44 percent say it has help them keep more informed.
  • Wearable tech has boosted self-confidence for 37 percent of respondents who have used it.
  • One in three believe that wearable tech helps them feel more in control of their lives.
  • 22 percent of Australian respondents who use wearable tech do it to enhance their love lives.

Reflecting on these findings, Angus Dorney, Director and General of Rackspace Australia, says “We are at the beginning of massive mainstream uptake of wearable devices, with the impending launch of wearable devices from a variety of multinational organisations set to further boost adoption.”

He points out, however, that wearable technology and the cloud “go hand in hand” providing data insights that “help users better manage many aspects of their lives”.

“Cloud services, such as computing, storage and a suite of new databases will power the wearable technology revolution. It allows the data generated by wearable devices to be captured, analysed and made readily accessible whenever users need it,” says Dorney.

Wearable technology will enable crowd-sourced service improvements

With adoption becoming mainstream, wearable technology is expected to form an integral part of the ‘Internet of Things’ – a growing network of devices – from wearable tech and smartphones to road traffic sensors – that connect to the internet to share data in real time.

The research suggests that many people are willing to share the data generated by wearable technology with third parties such as healthcare providers, enabling them to crowdsource insights that can be used to enhance service delivery.

One in four Australians would be willing to use a wearable health and fitness monitor that shares personal data with a healthcare provider if it led to incentives such as reduced premiums or fees.

Dorney says “[t]he rich data created by wearable tech will drive the rise of the ‘human cloud’ of personal data”; and with this comes countless opportunities to tap into this data – whether it’s connecting with third parties to provide more tailored and personalised services or working closer with healthcare institutions to get a better understanding of their patients.

“We are already seeing wearable technology being used in health insurance firms, who encourage members to use wearable fitness devices to earn rewards for maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Organisations need to assess whether they are ready to capture and process this rich new source of data,” he adds.

“They also need to consider how they will drive deeper customer understanding and new benefits from this technology revolution.”

Wearable technology is being widely adopted by health conscious consumers, given the growth of wearable technology devices that is tailored for the health and fitness market.

“With 16 million registered members and more than 200,000 health and fitness activities being logged daily by MapMyFitness users, our ability to effectively manage this data is critical,” says Robin Thurston, CEO of MapMyFitness.

Thurston adds that MapMyFitness is leveraging Rackspace’s Hybrid Cloud solutions to capture and process this data in real-time, while also analysing trends in a way “that helps drive value back to our business and deliver a more compelling user experience.”

Wearable technology evoking privacy concerns

It’s not all good news on the horizon. Despite the many benefits that wearable technology is expected to deliver for both consumers and governments, there are serious concerns about privacy, with nearly half (49 percent) of respondents citing it as a barrier to adoption.

Almost one in four (24 percent) think Google Glass and other wearable devices should be regulated in some form. A further 24 percent are calling for these devices to be banned entirely.