17 million wearable devices were shipped to customers in 2014. But wearables are just a small part of a bigger phenomenon, the IoT business, machines connected and able to talk to other machines. It is expected to be a 6.2 billion dollars market by 2025.
Dan Feld (Google's Developer Platform) opens the panel laying out these facts. But, did wearables already cross the border between being just a toy and being a tool for healthcare?
Nikolaj Hviid (CEO at Bragi GmbH) thinks that the device makers are not ready yet to make something huge from a medical perspective, counting how many steps we walked today is not a big benefit, a chip in your body able to warn you about a heart attack hours before it happens would be a really significant value and people would massively use it, because it would be a tool to improve health. The devices we have right now are not so smart and that is why they present a poor stickiness. “We still have to work on it to be in the big picture, but it is growing very fast.”
People likes wearing something that ads value and this value has to contain three different dimensions: emotional (you like it), social (how other perceive you) and functional (what does it do for you?). Most of the devices in the market are not accomplishing this principle. “We are still giving baby steps”.
The goal is having devices on you that you don’t have charge or care about, devices that help you through your day.
Joern Leogrande (EVP Mobile Services at Wirecard AG) comments that payment is a key feature of wearables. What type of benefits acquires a bank from wearable technology? The situation of the banks has changes, Mastercard and Vida had a big role in innovation. Only in Germany there are at the moment 350 fintech startups that want to change the traditional banking system. The user can now have easy access to his data, monitor it, analyze it using big data…Security is always a concern, but this is one of the highest regulated markets.
Privacy and data security are indeed important considerations when talking about wearables, big data, identification and all the digital industry. Some features may help us but are people willing to share their data with other people, with the government, with everybody?
Do we want to expose not only what we do but also what our intentions are?
Jens Spahn (health expert and recent Secretary of the Treasury), from the perspective of the regulators, data security is a very sensitive issue in health because it deals with the most personal information of the individual. It needs a higher level of regulation, a really good framework that people can trust. Patient rights must be protected, but too much regulation can compromise innovation, so where is the line?
People are giving data to Apple, Google, Amazon and all those companies in Sillicon Valley. Nowadays it doesn’t seem viable to set up an international law. Maybe in 100 years the United Nations will establish a global standard, but we have to deal now with Europe. The best way would be to develop a certification label for products and applications to assure the customer that some levels of data security are respected.