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Where is the privacy with wearable technology?

DATE: November 02, 2021

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So, when I decided to write about privacy with modern technology, I found an interesting thing occurred. I was convinced that the privacy concerns would break down over age groups. I started researching articles on technology privacy concerns, and much to my surprise, there was very little difference between age groups on privacy. Young or old, everyone fell into the "privacy is paramount" group. Jay Stanley wrote a terrific article covering this misperception that privacy is not a concern for the younger generations. The poll conducted by the University of Southern California's corporate-partnered Center for the Digital Future showed no such thing. Although there were some differences between younger and older respondents, they were not nearly dramatic enough to warrant my assumptions.

This topic came to my attention with the Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses; they are marketed as "smart eyeglasses and smart sunglasses, with camera and audio, combine legendary Facebook technology and iconic Ray-Ban style. With Ray-Ban X Facebook glasses, you can take photos and videos, listen to music and calls, and share content directly to your social media channels."

As an older nerd, I was happy to find someone picking up the Amazon Google Glass market, but as I talked to people the concern over personal privacy came up more and more. I personally saw no difference in this type of technology than GoPros (a small wearable camera) that I have seen several times on people walking around. Police have been using cameras to record their daily activities, and this has become a great tool for law enforcement.

The question today is what level of privacy do we expect when out in public? There are drones with amazing cameras in the air above us. GoPro cameras on public officials as well as private citizens so are sunglasses that can record, that different.

So now, going back to my original discovery, will the Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses suffer the same fate as the Google Glass predecessor. The Google Glass caused a huge stir when they were coming out, early adopters were denied entrance into stores and restaurants and the public outcry eventually caused the product to get canceled.

It seems the young and the old both have issues with privacy and the potential for misuse. With the growth in cameras on our smartphones, I am hoping that people will give this new technology a chance.

One of my favorite wearable technology clothing is the SCOTTEVEST, which allows me to carry a wide range of technology anywhere I go, add the Ray-Ban Stories, and I will be a moving technology workplace. 

I do agree that the concerns that people have over the Ray-Ban Stories are real. There are several scenarios I could think of where it could be misused. Bathrooms, Bars, or even a doctor's office could have terrible consequences. Imagine checking out at a grocery store, and the person behind you looks at your credit card as you enter your PIN and they record it. Another scenario could be a patient walking through a doctor's office and glancing at computers screens as he goes by, the patient information on the screen could easily be used in identity theft. So yes, the threat is real, but again do we cancel cars because someone could be a drunk driver.

I personally believe that the wearable technology benefits outweigh the possible downside. Having the ability to instantly record an event that could help in law enforcement or for a person to call for help with the touch of their glasses would be amazing. In the not-too-distant future the ability to pull up information on your glasses or use it for monitoring your health and sending that information to your doctor will be amazing. I hope that they find a balance between privacy and wearability.

As I came to the end of writing this article, Apple announced that they would be releasing their own Apple Glass

It is due to be released in 2022 or 2023. So, for now, it does look like the privacy issue will only be getting more relevant as technology gets more advanced and wearable.

About the author

Scott Richards

Information Security Analyst

(765) 418-3197, srichards@purdue.edu

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