Are Wearables The New Risk To The Workplace?

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Apple Watch® (Apple Watch) is scheduled for release in early 2015. It has the proficiency to monitor health and fitness with built-in sensors and to send the user’s data to Apple’s Health app. The new wearable can sync data using Bluetooth and is compatible with iPhone 5, 5C, 5S, 6, and 6 Plus.

Several other Apple apps will be available on the Apple Watch, including Siri, Messages, and Maps. Maps will provide walking directions, buzzing your wrist for each turn. In addition, the new smart watch can pull information from calendars, email and other iPhone apps. Hundreds of third-party apps, including Twitter and Facebook, also are available.

Apple Watch charges with a wireless pad that magnetically links to its back and comes furnished with a sapphire glass touchscreen that vibrates with alerts.

The announcement of Apple Watch spurred increased interest in wearable devices. Wearables are technological devices that are worn by the consumer and include, for example, jewelry, helmets, clothing and glasses. Wearables have been on the market for several years, but sales are expected to skyrocket beginning in 2015.

According to Jeffrey Burtt’s recent article in eweek.com, “Apple Watch to Fuel Wearable Device Market, Gartner Says,” Gartner, Inc., claims nine of the top 10 smartphone makers are moving into the wearables market. International Data Corporation recently said that more than 19 million wearable devices will ship just in this year.

IHS Electronics & Media predicts nearly 50 million shipments for performance monitors in 2015. Revenue is forecasted to reach $2.3 billion in 2017 for sports and fitness monitors alone.

Like cellular and smart phones and mobile devices in general, wearables, no doubt, will find a way to impact the workplace—for good and bad.

The health care and wellness application alone will likely have a profound impact on the workplace. Glucose monitors, heart rate and activity monitors, and sleep sensors are just a few examples of wearables that can help improve worker health, but they also put private medical data at risk.

Wearables will not be without some risk. Here are just a few:

  • Smaller devices make it more difficult to keep employer confidential data safe from theft;
  • Employee health information that can lead to GINA and ADA claims;
  • Smaller cameras create child and data safety issues; and
  • Constant information flow means continual interruptions that can hurt productivity.

Employers need to keep up with the technology and a good place to start is with policies that restrict what data personal devices in the workplace, including wearables, can access.

The following article is provided courtesy of The McCalmon Group.

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