Wearable devices – including smart glasses, fitness tracking bracelets, smart watches and technology-infused jewelry – are touted as the next big wave on the digital front.
However, risk, legal and insurance experts have warned of many uncertainties associated with these new technologies.
Smart Problems, No Answers
- Some types of wearable technology, such as smart glasses, which allow a person to see and assess a situation in real time, can help speed up efficiency. On the other hand, they could also distract their wearers, thus causing auto accidents or injuries. More worrisome is the fact that smart glasses are able to capture real-time facial images and video and search data on a person, causing many to be concerned about privacy controls (or lack thereof).
- Fitness tracking bands have similar issues. These bands collect a person’s private health data – but it’s unclear where that data is actually “stored.” Can it be sold? Replicated? What happens to the information if the fitness band is lost?
- Smart jewelry also carries risks. Most of these pieces connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth. When the gem in the piece vibrates, it is allowing specific types of notifications (text, phone call, email) to come through to the wearer. These notifications can include data. Fortunately, ringtones on smart jewelry today act only as notifications, so if your ring or pendant gets stolen, you don’t lose actual emails and texts. However, how data is protected – especially as technology gets savvier in the future – remains to be seen.
In the Public Eye
Another real risk emerges as wearable technology becomes more popular and expensive – that is, the risk of theft. Smart necklaces, pendants or rings can cost into the thousands. As these pieces become more visible, consumers must take more precautions to protect them:
- by ensuring they are on a scheduled valuable article policy
- by keeping them in a home safe when not in use
- by understanding what their insurance policy will provide, and making sure there are no exclusions that can impact their ability to repair or replace their item. For example, if a smart watch worth $100,000 was damaged, some policies would cover the cost to repair it, as they would with a chip-embedded jewelry item. Would yours?
Ly Rosenberg is a Portfolio Underwriter for Chubb Personal Risk Services.