13 eye-opening figures about wearable tech

13 eye-opening figures about wearable tech

Summary: What do people really think about Google Glass and its ilk? The answers may surprise you.

TOPICS: Emerging Tech, Cloud
Google Glass has become synonymous with the term "wearable tech." (Photo courtesy Google)

Wearable computing is the next big wave in electronics, according to various self-proclaimed oracles in the technology industry.

That's why there's all this recent hubbub about Google Glass, the Internet-connected glasses-mounted computer. It's also why rumormongers won't cease in discussing a possible Apple watch of some kind. And it's why your neighbor won't take off his Nike FuelBand or Jawbone Up or Fitbit, even though it makes him look like he just got discharged by the local hospital.

If you've ever seen or read a work of science fiction, it becomes rather clear as to why wearable computing technology is embraced with such zeal: aside from being more aesthetically appealing than today's mostly cuboid electronic devices, it is a step closer to the convergence of natural and artificial embodied by the cyborg, the person made superhuman thanks to the biological integration of electromechanical elements.

Not everyone wants to fuse transistors to their precious skin. But putting on a pair of glasses or a watch or an LED-studded rubber wristband? Yeah, they can get behind that. (Especially if it spells an end to the hunched-over position we all take regularly while using today's mobile devices.)

Rackspace, the U.S. IT hosting company, has an indirect stake in all of this. While it doesn't manufacture fancy glasses or anything like that, it does provide storage and other services for businesses in the cloud. In short, if the future is more Internet-connected than it is today, Rackspace and its peers stand to profit.

To explore this future, the company commissioned a study on wearable technology from the Centre for Creative and Social Technology at Goldsmiths, University of London. The survey asked 4,000 adults in the U.S. and U.K. for their thoughts on the concept.

Their responses were rather interesting.

Thirteen eyebrow-raising data points:

  • 82 percent of Americans and 71 percent of Brits said that cloud-powered devices have enhanced their lives.
  • 71 percent of Americans and 63 percent of Brits said that wearable tech has "improved their health and fitness."
  • One in three respondents of both countries said that wearable tech has "helped their career development."
  • 53 percent of Americans and 39 percent of Brits said that wearable tech has "made them feel more intelligent."
  • 54 percent of Americans and 46 percent of Brits said wearable tech has boosted their self-confidence.
  • 60 percent of Americans and 53 percent of Brits said that wearable tech "helps them feel more in control of their lives."
  • 36 percent of Americans and 27 percent of Brits said that they use wearable tech "to enhance their love lives."
  • 22 percent of Americans and 19 percent of Brits said they would be "willing to use a wearable device that monitors location for central government activity."
  • One in three respondents of both countries said they would be willing to use a wearable health and fitness monitor that shares personal data with the government's health agency or a healthcare provider.
  • Nonetheless, 51 percent of respondents cited privacy as a barrier to adoption.
  • 62 percent of respondents said they believe wearable devices should be regulated in some form, with 20 percent calling for an outright ban.
  • Just 18 percent of those surveyed said they have actually used wearable technology. (Update: The statistics above were culled from this group, the authors tell me.)
  • Of those who use it, 13 percent said they "never remove the device" and an additional 7 percent admitted to checking it "at least once every five minutes."

So who are these people, you ask? A mix of curious experience seekers, productivity pursuers and the health conscious, according to the study. 

For more about this, read my colleague Steve Ranger's interview with researcher Chris Brauer, the fellow who led the study.

Topics: Emerging Tech, Cloud

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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  • Survey seems to be contradictory

    "•Just 18 percent of those surveyed said they have actually used wearable technology."


    •71 percent of Americans and 63 percent of Brits said that wearable tech has "improved their health and fitness."

    Sounds like everyone lied on the survey making the results pretty useless.
    • I was ...

      ... thinking the same thing ...

    • Actually, let's do the math ...

      1000 people surveyed
      18% say they use weareble tech ... so that's 180 people
      71% say that it's improved their health and fitness - that's 128 people (give or take a leg - the number is actually 127.8) ...
      that means 12.8% say it's improved their health and fitness ...

      • 4000 people.

        Was the total surveyed between the two countries.
    • For the record, I'm checking up on this.

      You're right, something's clearly up with this.

      I contacted the authors to find out of one figure is a subset of the other or if I'm merely missing something. Stay tuned.
      • And now, an answer

        Alright folks, here's the deal: the larger figure is a subset of the smaller. So the data points about wearable technology were only culled from those participants who said they've worn it in the first place.
  • Depends on what the definition od "is" is

    A Cell Phone is wearable tech.
    A pace maker is wearable tech.
    The Sony Walkman is wearable tech.
    Yes 81% of the people have worn wearable tech.
  • 74% said they'd like their wearable tech to be

    used to target them for a drone strike, 73% for Google to target them for a face full or ads.
    Johnny Vegas
  • what I want to know is how ...

    ... wearable tech improved the love lives of nearly a third of people?

    I guess that with a bit of real time image processing whenever I look at my other half, I can see her as she was when she was 21. Rose tinted glasses? Now is the time to ditch any shares in companies making anti-wrinkle creams when technology can give us a perfect view. Instant slimming too.

    If anyone thinks this is going too far, there is software that does the same sort of things as Photoshop touch up, but for video.
    • It's clear that survey respondents

      ...were not informed that "beer goggles" do not qualify as "wearable tech."
  • Statistics

    and 83.89% of all statistics are made up on the hoof.
  • Other types of wearable tech

    Heartrate monitor
    Exercise step counter
    Digital watch