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VitAL Processes

The quantified self

Wearable technology will drive the rise of the ‘human cloud’ of personal data, but what are the implications for business? Matt Bailey spoke to Chris Brauer, director of CAST, the Centre for Creative and Social Technology.

he findings of an in-depth study into the use of wearable technology and its impact on consumers and businesses has found that, although only 18 percent of UK and US respondents have actually used wearable technology, 82 percent of those users in America and 71 percent in Britain believe that these cloud-powered devices have already enhanced their lives.


The study, ‘The Human Cloud: Wearable Technology from Novelty to Productivity’, was commissioned by Rackspace in association with the Centre for Creative and Social Technology (CAST) at Goldsmiths, University of London. It was supported by quantitative research into attitudes and behaviour regarding wearable technology among 4,000 UK and US adults.

Chris Brauer, director of CAST explained the implications of wearable technology. “Cloud computing is powering the wearable technology revolution. It allows the data generated by wearable devices to be captured, analysed and made readily accessible whenever users need it. However, research has found that users experienced frustration with the quality and accuracy of data provided by wearable technology devices. To gain competitive advantage as the market evolves, wearable tech vendors need to work closely with cloud providers to optimise data capture and analysis,” he said.

“Additionally, as wearable technology users create huge volumes of data, the demand for local cloud will increase. As data protection law is tightened, more of the data created by these devices will need to be stored in the country where it is generated, leading to a global demand for more in-country cloud storage.”

Business applications

So far the most explored applications – as so often happens with new technology - have been in the leisure space, but there is growing and serious interest from business and industry.

“We were looking at applications where wearable technology is generating data for what we call the ‘quantified self ’ or life logging applications like MapMyFitness,” says Brauer. “From a business perspective quantified self data related to productivity and health and wellbeing in the workplace would be important. Wearable fitness bands, accelerometers and devices that track movement, temperature and light and so on are of interest. Also wearable cameras – like with Google Glass – are useful for capturing the data that is around you. Smart textiles with sensors integrated into clothing to monitor biometric data are entering the field along with the first generations of headbands that monitor brainwave information to assess stress and concentration levels. All these types of technologies produce enormous amounts of data – between one and two gigabytes per user per day which has implications for the cloud and the network.”

“We are at the beginning of massive mainstream uptake of wearable devices, with the launch of Google Glass set to further boost adoption,” added Robert Scoble, startup liaison officer and technology evangelist at Rackspace. “However, it is important to note that wearable technology and the cloud go hand in hand – together they provide the rich data insights that help users better manage many aspects of their lives. Cloud computing is powering the wearable technology revolution. It allows the data generated by wearable devices to be captured, analysed and made readily accessible whenever users need it.” | July-August 2013


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