A majority of American smartphone users keep their phones on or near them at least 22 hours a day, and analysts say it’s a short jump for wearable tech to take off. Research firm IHS estimates that wearable-technology firms could sell up to 9.4 million devices by 2016, up from an estimated 50,000 shipments last year. That figure includes smart glasses, smart wristbands and smart watches.
The fitness industry has also embraced wearable tech, with devices that track everything from how many calories you’re burning to how well you’re sleeping. Pebble’s watch is designed to work with your smartphone as a pedometer, control panel for music or caller ID screen.
But the always-on, always-connected lifestyle that smart watches and glasses encourage doesn’t sit well with everyone. Privacy advocates have cautioned that users have to think carefully about giving companies even more streams of data about their lives — not to mention the information those devices may capture from the unwitting people around them.
Pebble’s watch doesn’t collect information on its own, and the firm secures the data transfer between watch and smartphone. But if users are concerned about people seeing an e-mail or text message that pops up on their wrist, chief executive Eric Migicovsky suggests users take a common-sense approach: Turn their arms.
That sort of action should be the guiding star as wearable tech raises debates about the line between public and private life, said Daniel Post Senning, the tech and social media etiquette specialist at the Emily Post Institute.
“Everyone has these cameras on every phone now,” Post Senning said. “We have some responsibility on all of us to think that we’re always on film. The question is: Do we want that to be the standard, or is there another side? Do the people who are filming also have responsibility?”
Early adopters, Post Senning said, should act as “ambassadors” for this new technology and temper their enthusiasm with caution and common sense.
He also recommended that small courtesies, such as asking others before you take or post pictures, and letting others know when you’re shooting video, will go a long way. He also recommends propping the glasses on your head when you’re not using them.It’s a concern that hasn’t gone unnoticed among those using Google Glass. The company hasn’t offered official guidance on how it plans to navigate the privacy or etiquette questions its product is likely to generate, but some developers have tackled the topic.