Wearables bring safety fears

24 March 2014
SINGAPORE: Almost half of consumers in Singapore would consider buying Google Glass but three quarters have fears about their own safety and that of others while wearing them according to new research.

Toluna, the online research business, surveyed 500 people to gain an understanding of how much they knew about wearable technology and any concerns they might have about it. Similar studies were carried out in the US, UK and Australia.

A higher proportion of Singaporeans knew about wearable technology than anywhere else, Campaign Asia Pacific reported. Some 84% claimed awareness, compared to 73% in the US, 68% in the UK and 65% in Australia.

And even though the Google Glass product is not yet in the market, 14% of Singaporeans – typically male, living centrally and earning more than US$80,000 – had attempted to buy one.

The high level of purchase intent was offset to some degree by privacy concerns, with some 69% in Singapore worried about this aspect, a finding which was repeated with slight variations in other markets. The main anxiety, cited by 48%, was that other people could record their actions without them knowing.

Rather lesser trepidation was expressed about drivers and pedestrians wearing them being distracted, so endangering both their own safety and that of others. Around three in five people in Singapore put forward this concern.

Personal safety was another factor, with 38% feeling they would be more at risk from being mugged if they wore Google Glass in public. This proportion was significantly higher in the UK where 46% had such fears.

Julie dePontbriand, Toluna's ASEAN director, commented that Google and other tech companies would need to address privacy concerns before these products become mainstream.

The New York Times recently reported the tack taken by a San Francisco start-up, which has developed a range of wearables in the form of accessories such as bracelets and necklaces that connect wirelessly to smartphones.

The emphasis is on personal safety with a user able to press the bracelet to send a distress signal, whether they find themselves in a threatening situation or have fallen and are unable to get up.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific, The Drum, New York Times; additional content by Warc staff
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