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There’s a Device For That

It’s a truly gorgeous day today here in Boston.  In fact, I will argue that those who live in this area find the weather that we will have here the next couple of weeks the climactic reason we suffer through the bone chilling winters and sweltering summers.  I remember a time when we even had Spring weather, but that seems to have disappeared thanks to global warming.  It sure isn’t like the weather we had last week in San Diego.

Speaking of San Diego, I wanted to touch upon another topic that was discussed at the M6 Mobility Exchange.  As I mentioned before, I definitely feel that this is one of the must attend events in America around enterprise mobility – so hopefully we’ll see you there next year.  In any case, my good friend Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates, moderated a panel at the event called “Evolution of Mobile Enterprise Computing.” As you might expect, the conversation quickly went to The Internet of Things.  Now IoT (formerly known as M2M) is an unbelievably exciting domain.  There are so many opportunities to connect and “make smart” all sorts of things such as durable goods, automobiles, shipping palates, drugs and other temperature sensitive products…..I could go on and on.  The use cases are truly limitless, as is the potential value add. But then, the conversation shifted towards wearable computing.

We’ve already got FitBit to track your movements so you can feel less like a sloth.  You’ve got watches that can track your heart rate.  You now have new watches that connect to your smartphone and will have complementary apps.  You’ve of course got Google Glass and its variants for augmented reality.  I even heard one person talk about smart shoes.  So wear (get it?  wear?) does this end?

I can’t get over the idea that wearable computing is nothing more than a passing fad.  I saw one person on Twitter post a photo of his new Samsung smart watch, right next to his dumb Rolex.  I told the person that should he ever decide to replace his Rolex with his Smart Watch that I would gladly take it from him.  And what about those shoes?  Do you really think that Ferragamo is going to come out with a shoe that is connected to the Interweb?  In certain instances, I can’t help but feel as if we are developing solutions in search of a problem that simply doesn’t exist – it’s taking Apple’s famous “There’s an app for that” tag line to the extreme.  Not to mention, fashion is all about form – not function.  Any woman walking in four inch stilettos and the blisters to show for it can attest to that.  I don’t want you to think that this is just about Haute Couture, but rather why does everything need to be connected to the Internet? I’d also like to point out that when the battery in my watch dies, it’s still correct twice a day ;-)

OK, so I am an old fogey.  Maybe a snob even because I chose not to buy a Swatch but instead I wanted to channel my inner James Bond. While there is no question that an internal heart monitor or blood pressure monitoring tool have tremendous value, what do I need augmented reality for in my eyewear? More importantly who owns the data that I am compiling with these new fangled wearable computing devices?  I’ll give you a hint.  It’s NOT you….just read through the myriad paragraphs in the Terms of Service you blindly agree to.

I am genuinely concerned that there is a huge privacy risk here.  Also, what about when you go apply for life insurance….are the insurance carriers going to want to access all the FitBit data you have compiled?  I exaggerate somewhat in this last example, but I do believe the fundamental thesis is valid.  We have become so anesthetized to the idea of giving away our personal information in exchange for “free” services – thank you Google and Facebook – that we don’t see anything wrong in being on the grid at all times.    I wonder if and when legislative privacy hawks will catch up to the technology…

2 Comments

  1. Posted September 24, 2013 at 16:56 | Permalink

    Philippe, fantastic post. I couldn’t agree more! Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer to have my watch tell me the time – and just that. And I prefer to have my shoes help (or hurt, depending on how tall they are ;-) ) me walk…nothing more.

    With more wearable devices, we are willingly giving up privacy — not about any “corporate confidential information” but about ourselves. We now have put ourselves out in the open with someone else monitoring or even controlling our information. The biometrics (iPhone 5S, LG G2 etc.) add to this.

    Wish we could go back to the time when smartphones didn’t exist…

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