Privacy and Security in an Age of Wearable Devices

Hacker Inside the Car. Car Robber Hacking Vehicle From Inside Using His Laptop. Hacking On board Vehicle Computer.

Wearable technology covers a broad area of devices. With its use becoming more common in the healthcare sector the issue concerning privacy becomes more crucial. New devices can help physicians monitor patients’ vital signs; sleep patterns and heart rhythms remotely transforming the face of medicine as we know it.  These developments in technology will help detect early signs of diseases and aid in diagnosing medical conditions. Essentially these devices are mini computers that send and receive data which can be used for further analysis. The data that these incredibly powerful devices collect can be stolen, which raises concerns for data safety and encryption. Furthermore, there is a valid concern that companies will use large amounts of personal healthcare data for marketing and insurance purposes.

When it comes to healthcare and the clinical setting, the information must comply with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).  To sum up these HIPAA rules: if data is in electronic form then we should not be able to identify any personal/protected health information. Data can be any lab test, vital sign, physical exam info, etc. Personal/protected health information includes 18 identifiers such as name, address, social security number, medical record numbers, phone numbers, etc.  A hacker getting a hold of someone’s heart rate or lab test is worthless if he/she doesn’t know who that person is.

An update to HIPAA in 2013, via the final omnibus rule, regarding privacy breaches was made to address the use of wearable technology.  Business associates, such as developers, determine if something has to be reported as a breach or not. If a device was hacked into but the information was not decrypted then this would not be reported as a breach. New investments have been made to protect the data of the consumer so that this will not take place.  Encryption and security measures have developed in parallel with wearable devices to make them safe for the general public.

If these rules are meant to be enforced, the use of wearable technology in healthcare will have to be safeguarded more so than other consumer-based devices. Such devices include those acquired from hospitals, clinics, healthcare workers, clinical research organizations, pharmaceutical companies and other HIPAA covered entities.

How do we safeguard our health information while complying with HIPAA?

Many steps will have to be set in place, including:

  • Informed consent forms outlining the purpose of the wearable tech, background information on the developers, and a notification regarding those who will have access to the data.
  • Multiple Encryption methods will have to be used in case one encrypted algorithm gets decrypted. The two key method in which the end user can access the information with the patient and the healthcare professional provided security measure.
  • File sharing and data transmission will have to be closely monitored. New methods of data security are being created for the Internet of Things (IoT), which includes wearable devices.

Major Trends in the Wearable Devices Industry

Close up of businesswoman hand presenting digital charts

Over the course of the last several years there have been developments in the cross-section of how we as consumers access technology. The transformation has been rapidly building since the advent of the computer. Computers used to take up entire rooms and required massive amounts of power. However, the incredible shrinking technology has brought the computing power of the personal computer and interconnectedness of the internet to the consumer first through cell phones and now through at the level of the new-fangled wearable devices.

People can access their entire movies or music collections with a click of a button. Furthermore, portability has been emphasized in more recent developments. The growth potential is especially strong in consumer health care field in which wearable devices is seen as a major driving force in 2016 and beyond. Widespread potential is seen in transforming fitness tracking devices into applications and deliverable devices in which useful medical information can be tracked and acted upon.

Imagine a physician remotely monitoring a group of cardiology patients with Holter monitors from his home and the patients, instead of suffocating in a hospital, can be resting comfortably form their homes. This world will soon be a reality and personalized and customizable forms of medicine will present in an on-demand fashion. As a result of large groups of patients being monitored 24/7, this will spread the risk and drive the costs down for the individual patients. Welcome to the future of medicine. Healthcare insurance companies will soon provide premium relief for those who wear devices, which transmit data to a central database. Internally, this data will help predict future trends in medicine through the current and developing artificial intelligence algorithms.

Pharmaceuticals, as a result of the genome project, have developed entirely new biologics and devices, advancing medicine into a new age. Soon enough, they will be able to pinpoint specific genes and use drugs to target diseases using CRISPR-Cas9 and similar gene editing methods. Lifestyle disease such as diabetes and heart disease will become things of the past. Routine blood and urine monitoring will provide the analytics division an incredible amount of information. The raw data will spur the development of more advanced drugs, devices, and artificial intelligence.

Newer technologies will develop, and soon out strip the smart watches and fitness tracking devices. Wearable devices, which integrate fashion and customization are the hottest things to come to the market in a generation.

As wearable devices develop, the concerns of data privacy and encryption will become paramount. Precision and accuracy will become fine-tuned through clinical trials, confirming the reliability of data among different medical conditions. The collection of data from the specific sensors will also prove challenging, since humans do not always operate within the narrow confines of a programming language. Changes in human blood, sweat, tears, emotions, and environments can all skew data from being collected.

We are excited to explore the innovations from engineers, entrepreneurs, and healthcare professionals at CES 2016. We expect this year to bring us one step closer to a wearable devices revolution, beyond that of basic fitness tracking, into a world where diseases and conditions can be accurately diagnosed and treated remotely and conveniently.

Wearable Devices in Healthcare, What to Expect in 2016

Health sport woman wearing smart watch device with health icon isolated on gray background, asian beauty

The changing face of healthcare illustrated one of the most lucrative markets that will be expanding in 2016. Technology is exploding and with the rapid changes to healthcare, devices are being created to track and analyze information about a person’s health. This data can be remotely transmitted and provided to medical personnel who could then be able provide targeted treatment.

New wearable devices are being created which can be used to remotely monitor a multitude of data. This will allow the companies to continuously track blood glucose levels providing alerts when levels get too high or too low. How insurance companies will utilize this data in assigning our premiums is anybody’s guess. However, the intersection of personal data with wearable devices and how third parties might use it will soon become a reality.

Local, state, and federal laws have not caught up to the transforming landscape of the digital world. The newer digital requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as Obamacare, states physicians must keep electronic medical records. As such, the newer wearable devices and complementary platforms are being developed that allow busy doctors to provide routine monitoring and medical care within current regulations.

Forbes magazine last month stated that the wearable medical device industry is predicated to grow to a six billion dollar industry. The overall growth in the industry of personal healthcare is predicted to explode worldwide and will likely eclipse one hundred billion in the next 18 months. Obtaining and sharing health related information will soon be obsolete as patients and providers find new ways of interacting with one another. By bridging the digital divide with wearable technology, providers can reach out to patients in a variety of areas and will no longer be constrained by transportation or geographic limitations.

Already companies are trying to reach niche patient populations to gather data and feedback, with hopes of transforming healthcare into an on-demand service. By bringing down the costs of wearable devices and getting more sensors attached to consumers, the potential for obtaining large amounts of data and having it analyzed and interpreted will be the next logical step.

The focus of the United States healthcare system will be to drive down cost by relying upon more preventative and healthcare delivery systems. The traditional fee for service model is outdated, expensive, and no longer provides the best value per dollar being spent.  Instead, incentives for both the patient and the physician will be emphasized on maintaining a healthier lifestyle metrics and avoid the costly diseases of lifestyle choices.

In 2016, data storage and analysis will enable the consumer to manage their own health with real time information. Bringing wearable technology to the forefront will allow for the customization of medical treatment. On the research front, wearable devices will be linked with clinical trials to promote the development of new medicines to treat diseases that continue to plague society. This week, CES 2016 is expected to highlight the latest and greatest in wearable devices and services, continuing the transition to a more empowered patient.

Morgan Stanley: Wearable Devices A Potential $1.6 Trillion Business

Mi.Mu Glove

Note: The following is an excerpt of “Morgan Stanley: Wearable Technology A Potential $1.6 Trillion Business” written by Jayson Derrick at

Wearable technology refers to mobile electronic devices that are worn on a user’s body or attached to their clothes. While the technology is in its infancy stage, analysts at Morgan Stanley believe it will become a $1.6 trillion business in the near-future.

“Wearable devices will far surpass market expectations, and become the fastest ramping consumer technology device to date, in our view,” a group of Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a note on Thursday. The analysts add that wearable devices will have “far-reaching” impacts by creating a new category and disrupting or even accelerating change within industries outside of technology.

Read Full Article

Apple Plans to Unveil Wearable Device on September 9th


Apple has just sent out press invitations for an event on September 9th, where the company is expected to announce the iPhone 6. In addition to the iPhone however, there might be one more thing…

According to Re/code, Apple is expected to thrill the audience with the introduction of a wearable device, colloquially known as the iWatch. This is not unreasonable to believe since the company filed a patent for a wrist-worn device which vastly improves the accuracy of measuring steps, and another patent which outlines in-strap circuitry. If that isn’t enough, Apple Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services told the world, “We’ve got the best product pipeline that I’ve seen in my 25 years at Apple.” — referring to products coming out this year.

Many speculate that the device will feature biometric sensors capable of monitoring physiologic data, which would then utilize iOS 8 HealthKit, announced earlier this year. The device may interact with HomeKit as well, the home automation software also included in iOS 8.

Apple isn’t without competition though; companies like Google, Samsung, Pebble, and Withings have already released smartwatches — with relatively weak adoption into the mainstream. Perhaps such wearable devices are not fashionable enough or do not offer enough relevant insight for the user to consider as a part of their everyday attire. This is where Apple could theoretically take the lead, as they historically have had an ambitious eye for design with their other products. However, other companies like FashionTEQ have been researching and developing fashionable wearable devices for some time. Only time will tell.


Glove from Imogen Heap Will Change the Way You Make Music

Imogen Heap & Mi.Mu

Gloves That Will Bring Music to Your Ears…and Hands

One of the best ways to start the wearable technology revolution is with a good pair of gloves. Not just any gloves though — really really high tech gloves (Minority Report anyone?).

Imogen Heap, famed English singer-songwriter and composer, is diving head first into the exciting world of wearable devices with Mi.Mu — a glove that will change the way you make music, and possibly much more. Imogen has already showcased the glove at a number of reputable organizations, including TED, Wired, and the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Mi.Mu is a glove intended to facilitate the creation of music with gesture control, steering musicians away from dials and computer screens. Move your hand up and the pitch shifts to a heavenly choir, extend your index finger to add some reverb, or snap your palm shut to bring everything to a silent halt. The glove literally makes the phrase, “at the touch of a button,” obsolete — no buttons required.

“Sometimes touching a fader, pressing a button or hunching over a laptop just feels flat. It’s always frustrated me that the bits involving computers and technology never correlated to the sounds and effects being created” – Imogen Heap

Specifically, the glove is able to capture the orientation of the users hand, the flex of the fingers, hand posture (open or closed fist), the direction of the hand, and sharp events — such as a drum hit. Thousands of gesture combinations are mappable using the included software, which the team has agreed to make open-source upon completion of their Kickstarter campaign.

“If I am making a fist with my right hand, and pointing downwards with my left hand, map the ‘roll’ of my right wrist to MIDI control change message 60 on channel 2”.

Imogen and her team have been passionately developing the project for the past several years as a “labor of love”. It all started when Imogen visited the MIT Media Lab back in 2010 where she saw a researcher manipulating data with a glove-like device. Since then, the team of musicians, artists, engineers, and scientists have built on existing research from the University of the West of England. The original prototype was large and expensive with lots of wires, but over the past 18 months, the group has managed to condense the technology down to a simple and respectable sized glove with built-in Wi-Fi circuitry. While the group admits that they have not created the first data gloves, they do state that they have created a significantly more convenient form, primarily targeted to artists and musicians — their earliest supporters.

“The date the focus of the Mi.Mu has been in the music and arts world. The opportunity for the glove in this space are many: to turn electronic music events into visually engaging performances; to allow a band to travel with less equipment and “load” instruments onto the glove; to allow a musician with one hand to play the piano with the glove and sound as if both hands are at work — to name a few.”

Surely such a device could be opened up for other exciting uses, which the team confirmed to Wearable Devices Magazine via email: “The team is opening up discussions now with the right communities to explore those opportunities. They include deaf people using the glove to turn American Sign Language motions into sound; doctors using the glove during training to have audio cues guide their hands during an exam or surgery; and virtual reality games making use of the glove as well as goggles such as the Oculus Rift to make experiences more immersive”

From the medical perspective, I can see Mi.Mu integrating well with patients who suffer from hearing loss, blindness, autism, tremors, and a variety of other illnesses. In daily life, perhaps the glove could be combined with smart glasses which could then be used to control a vehicle or journey through augmented reality. Indeed, the possibilities for gesture control are only limited by ones wildest imagination.

A device that was once thought science fiction is quickly approaching reality this December, when the team hopes to have the first batch of gloves available to their Kickstarter backers. At the time of this article, the campaign has raised over £80,000 (about $134,000) from 521 backers, with a goal of £200,000 and 8 days remaining. Check out the Mi.Mu Kickstarter campaign and tell us what you think.

90 Million Wearable Devices Expected to Ship in 2014

Google Glass

The following is written by Elisabeth Young from Technology Tell

We already know that wearable technology will be more popular this year. Especially now that we’re seeing companies unveiling their smartwatches and smart glasses left and right. For now, Android-related devices are more affordable and accessible but wait until Apple introduces the iWatch.

Market analysis and intelligence agency ABI Research predicts that this year, about 90 million wearable devices will be sold and demand will be higher in 2015. Most of the gadgets are believed to be related to health and fitness.

Read Full Article

Adidas Sues Under Armour for Patent Infringement


The following is written by Jill Krasny, full article at Inc.

Germany’s Adidas sued Baltimore’s Under Armour on Tuesday for allegedly infringing on its wearable tech patents.

A complaint filed Feb. 4 in federal district court in Wilmington, Delaware claims Under Armour’s Armour39 watches and chest straps, as well as technologies featured in its MapMyFitness tracker, infringed on 10 patents Adidas registered between 2007 and 2013. Adidas is seeking a jury trial and alleges Under Armour purposely copied functions such as real-time workout analytics and automatic route mapping.

See Full Article

Avegant Glyph


The first of its kind, the Avegant Glyph brings entertainment directly to your eyes. Avegant’s Glyph is a virtual headset with serious potential. Currently in its latest alpha design, the Michigan-based Avegant is set to release a Kickstarter edition January 22nd, selling the headset for $499. While the wearable entertainment device will be ready to order through Kickstarter in January, the headsets won’t actually ship until “later in the year.”

The technology uses “virtual retinal display,” which uses a micromirror array of up to 2 million micromirrors and a single LED to project crisp 3D images directly ont to the retina. Technically speaking, this method of projecting images would not require goggles, so the Glyph is different than Google Glass in that regard. While the Avegant Glyph can be worn on the face and over the eyes, they are not a pair of glasses. The current alpha design looks more like a set of headphones and can be worn as such, but when the visual portion is needed, the head band can be lowered and adjusted over the eyes, functioning much like a small pair of binoculars.

While the Avegant Glyph is not exactly focused on gaming, it definitely has potential to become gaming compatible. The Kickstarter version of the headset will come with an HDMI/MHL cable and battery pack. Avegant is primed to create unique technology for game developers to manipulate, but that’s a goal set for the future. The main focus for the moment is video and entertainment, although the newest prototype is still HDMI-game compatible. The user can connect via cable to iPhone or Android devices to play games. The headset is also equipped with bluetooth technology. With its retinal projection technology, shining a 720p video image directly in front of the eyes, the Glyph headset allows the user to get an 80-inch TV experience wherever they happen to be, including on a long plane ride.

The designs are set to get smaller and more practical as time goes on. As is often the case with wearable devices, sleek practical designs reign supreme. Getting feedback from users after ordering on Kickstarter is a big factor in the final design for the Avegant Glyph and will certainly serve to improve this exciting and versatile new technology.

LG Lifeband Touch


Displaying a polished combination of design and functionality, LG has developed the Lifeband Touch and Heart Rate Monitor with earphones to track your progress during a workout.

The LG Lifeband Touch is a wearable fitness device, currently in versitile black, that has a simple band design with monitor and looks something akin to a futuristic bracelet. The unobtrusive band can keep track of calories, number of steps taken during a walk, and other fitness statistics using a 3-axis accelerometer and altimeter, allowing the band to track caloric ouput during a multitude of movements and physical activities both up- and downhill. The full OLED touch display allows the user to see phone alerts (such as incoming calls and texts), play music, and check biometric information. The screen is swipable, allowing the user to check through for details, but the device can be activated without even touching it by simply making gestures, such as flicking the wrist.

The LG Lifeband Touch is compatible with Android and iOS phones through Bluetooth 4.0 connecting to the LG fitness app or other apps such as MyFitnessPal, Runkeeper, or MapMyFitness. The Lifeband Touch can also connect to tablets and has an alarm feature, just in case you happen to fall asleep during a particularly boring workout session. It’s most useful feature, however, is its heart monitoring capability. This feature of the band works through the use of a second, separate wearable device: a pair of Heart Rate Earphones. They function both as normal earbuds and, as the name implies, have heart monitoring capabilites and can track heart rate by measuring pulse through sensors tracking blood flow in the inner ear.

The South Korean company has not yet set a release date for either the LG Lifeband Touch or the Heart Rate Earphones, but we hope it’s soon since we’re still in peak New Year’s resolution mode. With all the biostatistic features of this stylish device, the LG Lifeband Touch and compatible Heart Rate Earphones are the perfect motivators to finally get up and get that heart rate going!