There has been a surge in the number of people using wearable technology in recent months as they turn to the devices for digital contact tracing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
That is according to research by analytics firm GlobalData, which said that it now expects the wearable tech market to increase from nearly $27bn (£21bn) in 2019 to $64bn by 2024.
Examples of wearables being used to combat COVID-19 include Nodle, Coalition Network and Avnet’s Nodle M1, which tracks distance and buzzes employees to let them know when they are too close to one another.
GlobalData forecasts the market to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 19% over the next few years, explaining how the technology is allowing businesses to reopen while slowing the spread of coronavirus.
However, Tina Deng, senior medical devices analyst at GlobalData, said: “As many countries have launched contract-tracing apps for wearable devices, the main concern centres on privacy.
“Users’ personal data, including health information and social activities, could be accessed and potentially exploited.
“Instead of informing a central authority of personal status, wearables should be programmed to create a rotating random identifier and notify others anonymously. Additionally, algorithms to prevent unauthorised third parties from accessing devices should be reinforced.”
Another example of a wearable tech device tackling COVID-19 is artitalia and SensorID’s ‘Close-to-me’, a wearable device that monitors social distancing of two or more people in the same room.
Both this, and the Nodle M1 device, offer the advantage of working independently without smartphones, ensuring privacy and security.
However, GlobalData warned that there is currently very limited data on the performance of the devices, and that there remain gaps that could pose challenges to their adoption.
For example, they require almost everyone in a community to use the same type of devices to be effective.
“Wearables developers should focus on improving the accuracy and energy-efficiency of devices, as well as, perhaps most importantly, ensuring the technology protects the privacy of users,” GlobalData said.
Author: Chris Seekings
Image credit: iStock