Some have privacy concerns with wearable technology

There's a new wave of privacy concerns building up as developers create new forms of wearable technology.
March 6, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
The next wave in technology is not something you'll have to carry of clip onto your belt. It's going to be embedded into your clothing. Wearable technology is developing fast in Silicon Valley and around the world.

Inventors are making pitches to potential investors, some of whom are big names. ABC7 News got see what the well-dressed consumer soon will be wearing.

Jessie Slade Shantz, M.D., is an orthopedic surgeon, and the workout shirt he's wearing has multiple sensors embedded in the fabric. Those sensors collect data an amateur athlete might find helpful, including heart rate, respiration and stress level.

Over time, though, he sees a fast-growing database that will make wearable technology a breakthrough for medicine.

"The real value in these devices is going to come when we can give that kind of level of insight, taking it from really detection and diagnosis to the point of actually being able to predict something and then prevent it," said Shantz.

Athos is a competing start-up. Its shirt has 14 sensors, invisible to the wearer.

"Sensor, sensor for the pec. We have two right here for the heart rate. There's one on each bicep, which goes on the inside of the arm here. Our sensors are about that big, and that allows us to have constant surface area contact," said Jake Waxenberg, an Athos marketing manager.

Wearable technology is also aiming at foot pain. Plantiga's shoes have a dynamic suspension powered by sensors and analyzed by a smartphone app.

"We have multiple points. We have multiple shocks, and we have chassis suspended, so that kind of allows you to stay in traction and in control as the terrain is rough, so it allows you to kind of morph and grip the ground better than current shoes do now," said Quin Sandler, the CEO of Plantiga.

Many ideas are emerging as consumers embrace fitness bracelets and see Google Glass in development. Smartphone makers Samsung and Apple are jumping on board. But these devices collect data -- personal data -- and that's raising new concerns about privacy.

"How it's being used, where it's being stored, is it being stored outside the US, what are we doing? Are we selling it to advertisers? Are you guys sharing it with my employer to know about my health? So I think that the vendors have to be very transparent," said Julien Blin, a wearable technology consultant.


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