Wearable tech to drive rise of the ‘human cloud’


'We are at the beginning of massive mainstream uptake of wearable devices, with the launch of Google Glass set to further boost adoption'

The majority of wearable technology users in the UK and US have stated that those cloud-powered devices have improved their lives, according to a new study.

The research finds that, although only 18% of UK and US respondents have actually used wearable technology, 82% of those users in America and 71% in Britain believe that these cloud-powered devices have enhanced their lives.

Altogether, 39% of UK respondents and 53% of US respondents said that wearable tech has made them feel more intelligent, plus wearable tech has boosted self-confidence for 46% of respondents in the UK and 54% in the US, in the stidy from Rackspace Hosting, looking at the use of wearable technology and its impact on consumers and businesses.

Almost two thirds of British ands American users of wearable technology have stated that it has improved their health and fitness, while one in three respondents in the UK and US believe that wearable tech has helped their career development. A further 53% of respondents from the UK and 60% of those from the US believe that wearable tech helps them feel more in control of their lives, while 27% of UK respondents and 36% of US respondents use wearable tech to enhance their love lives.

'We are at the beginning of massive mainstream uptake of wearable devices, with the launch of Google Glass set to further boost adoption,' said 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,' added Scoble.

Despite this emphasis on the role of Google Glass, one in five respondents think Google Glass should be banned due to privacy concerns. Despite the many benefits that wearable technology is set to deliver for both consumers and governments, there remain serious concerns about privacy, with over half (51%) of respondents citing it as a barrier to adoption. Almost two thirds (62%) think Google Glass and other wearable devices should be regulated in some form, while one in five (20%) are calling for these devices to be banned entirely.

With adoption becoming mainstream, wearable technology will form an integral part of the 'Internet of Things' – a growing  network of devices – from wearable tech and smartphones to road traffic sensors – that connect to the internet to share data in real time.

The research revealed that citizens may be willing to share the data generated by wearable technology with central or local government, enabling authorities to crowd-source insights which can be used to enhance public services.

Altogether, 19% of Brits and 22% of Americans would be willing to use a wearable device that monitors location for central government activity. One in three British and American citizens would be willing to use a wearable health and fitness monitor that shares personal data with the NHS or healthcare provider

'The rich data created by wearable tech will drive the rise of the 'human cloud' of personal data,' said Chris Brauer, co-director of CAST at Goldsmiths, University of London. 'With this comes countless opportunities to tap into this data; whether it's connecting with third parties to provide more tailored and personalised services or working closer with healthcare institutions to get a better understanding of their patients. We are already seeing wearable technology being used in the private sector with health insurance firms encouraging members to use wearable fitness devices to earn rewards for maintaining a healthier lifestyle. It is likely that the public sector will look to capitalise on the wearable technology trend with a view to boosting telehealth and smart city programmes.'

With such a strong emphasis being placed on establishing a healthier lifestyle across the UK and US, adoption of wearable technology among health conscious consumers is on the rise.

'The growth of wearable technology devices tailored for the health and fitness market is exploding and is a trend we expect to continue. With 16 million registered members and more than 200,000 health and fitness activities being logged daily by MapMyFitness users, our ability to effectively manage this data is critical,' said Robin Thurston, CEO of MapMyFitness.  'By leveraging Rackspace's Hybrid Cloud solutions, we're able to capture and process this data in real time, while also analysing trends in a way that helps drive value back to our business and deliver a more compelling user experience.'

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. The exploration was supported by quantitative research into attitudes and behaviour regarding wearable technology among 4,000 UK and US adults.


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