Wearable Computing – Legal Issues?

What do readers think about wearable computing? Is it cool or creepy? Where is the technology headed? What legal or other issues might arise from it?

I’m thinking about this because I find the intersection of technology and law interesting, and I’ve been asked to speak about it this fall. Google Glass privacy concerns is a popular topic today, especially around the issue of the ability to record and save images and video, and what might happen with all that. In addition to Google Glass we are seeing the debut of the smartwatch. The Pebble was a very successful kickstarter project, and there are rumours about an upcoming Apple smartwatch. There are also fitness products such as the Fitbit and the Nike Fuelband.

Wearable computing has been around for a long time – perhaps dating back to an abacus worn around someone’s neck. One of the first consumer electronic wearable computers was the calculator watch that first appeared in the 1970’s.

Wearable computers are however becoming more than a standalone device. These devices are laden with sensors, connected to significant computing power, and connected to the internet. Which raises all sorts of possibilities for the collection, storage and sharing of many kinds of data. And not just from 1 person – but from everyone. Combine that with the internet of things, and we also have the ability to be in constant contact with and have remote control over our stuff – such as our cars, homes, and appliances.

And how long will it be before devices get implanted to correct things like vision problems which are connected? Or we have the medical equivalent of a “black box” that records and transmits our vital signs?




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