USA Today recently reported that wearable devices have experienced sales growth of over 1,886% in the last four years, and are expected to grow another 35% this year. These numbers are driven largely by fitness devices such as the Fitbit and Fuelband. Lifelogging is also starting to drive demand for wearables like the Narrative and Autographer. Google Glass and the like are expected to do very well in the market. Even smartwatch sales are expected to reach $9.2B by 2018, in spite of the fact that no one knows what smartwatches are for. And I can't keep up with all the stuff that's on Kickstarter right now.
All of this stuff sounds pretty cool, and it will probably be great for things like tourism, shopping, and family fun. But how will it impact your company's security or your personal privacy?
- Wearable lifelogging cameras are often configured to take pictures every 30-60 seconds and then upload pictures to a lifelogging service via wireless connection. Are you planning to allow these devices on the premises?
- Most wearable cameras can also operate as webcams. How will you prevent these devices from being hijacked and used to stream data about your company to a malicious party?
- Google glass and similar devices will be available in prescription lenses sometime this year. Will employees be allowed to use these as corrective lenses? How will you prevent data from being captured and transmitted to a third party?
- Let's just assume that personal fitness devices can be exploited in some way. Maybe they can be used to gain access to connected devices, maybe they can be used to capture your personal information. Leaked GPS information is a social engineer's dream.
This is as much (or more) an HR problem as a technology problem. Here are some things that HR can do to help the company address this before it becomes a problem:
- Update employment information to include language regarding wearable technology and company data.
- Train the workforce on confidentiality .
- Determine whether personal wearable technology can be used in the workplace.
- Review the policy of monitoring the communications of company-owned wearable technology.
- Modify dress code policies to address wearable technology.
Some of these tasks overlap nicely with BYOD policies. Companies that have been proactive with personal devices in the past should be in a good position to handle wearable technology. That's good news, but only for about 41% of you.
Wearable tech isn't going anywhere, and many companies may find that it improves productivity under certain circumstances. Industries like health care, construction, and IT can all benefit from a heads-up display that overlays schematics or streams a video of a job.
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Christine Barry is Senior Chief Blogger and Social Media Manager at Barracuda. In this role, she helps bring Barracuda stories to life and facilitate communication between the public and Barracuda internal teams. Prior to joining Barracuda, Christine was a field engineer and project manager for K12 and SMB clients for over 15 years. She holds several technology credentials, a Bachelor of Arts, and a Master of Business Administration. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan.