Cloud-powered wearable tech improves intelligence and self-confidence, says new in-depth study

London UK, 4th June 2013 – Rackspace® Hosting (NYSE: RAX) today announced findings of an in-depth study into the use of wearable technology and its impact on consumers and businesses. The research finds that 82 per cent of wearable technology users in America and 71 per cent in Britain believe that these cloud-powered devices have enhanced their lives. This is due to the rich data generated by the devices, which is stored and analysed in the cloud. The ability to access these insights from the cloud anywhere, anytime enables wearable technology users to boost their intelligence, confidence, health, fitness and even their love lives.

The study, “The Human Cloud: Wearable Technology from Novelty to Productivity”, was commissioned by Rackspace in association with the Centre for Creative and Social Technology (CAST) at Goldsmiths, University of London. The exploration was supported by quantitative research into attitudes and behaviour regarding wearable technology among 4,000 UK and US adults.

Key findings from the study include:

• 63 per cent of UK and 71 per cent of American users respondents state that wearable tech has improved their health and fitness

• One in three respondents in the UK and USA believe that wearable tech has helped their career development

• 39 per cent of UK respondents and 53 per cent of US respondents say that wearable tech has made them feel more intelligent

• Wearable tech has boosted self-confidence for 46 per cent of respondents in the UK and 54 per cent in the US

• 53 per cent of respondents from the UK and 60 per cent of those from the US believe that wearable tech helps them feel more in control of their lives

• 27 per cent of UK respondents and 36 per cent of US respondents use wearable tech to enhance their love lives

“We are at the beginning of massive mainstream uptake of wearable devices, with the launch of Google Glass set to further boost adoption,” said Robert Scoble, Startup Liaison Officer and Technology Evangelist at Rackspace. “However, it is important to note that wearable technology and the cloud go hand in hand – together they provide the rich data insights that help users better manage many aspects of their lives. Cloud computing is powering the wearable technology revolution. It allows the data generated by wearable devices to be captured, analysed and made readily accessible whenever users need it.”

Wearable technology vendors need to improve data capture and analysis

The qualitative research conducted by CAST revealed a common frustration with the quality and accuracy of data provided by wearable technology devices. As the market matures, the clear winners will be the manufacturers who manage to resolve these data issues to gain competitive advantage.

Wearable technology will enable crowd-sourced public service improvements

With adoption becoming mainstream, wearable technology will form an integral part of the ‘Internet of Things’ – a growing network of devices – from wearable tech and smartphones to road traffic sensors - that connect to the internet to share data in real time. The research revealed that citizens may be willing to share the data generated by wearable technology with central or local government, enabling authorities to crowd-source insights which can be used to enhance public services.

• 19 per cent of Brits and 22 per cent of Americans would be willing to use a wearable device that monitors location for central government activity

• One in three British and American citizens would be willing to use a wearable health and fitness monitor that shares personal data with the NHS or healthcare provider

“The rich data created by wearable tech will drive the rise of the ‘human cloud’ of personal data,” said Chris Brauer, co-director of CAST at Goldsmiths, University of London. “With this comes countless opportunities to tap into this data; whether it’s connecting with third parties to provide more tailored and personalised services or working closer with healthcare institutions to get a better understanding of their patients. We are already seeing wearable technology being used in the private sector with health insurance firms encouraging members to use wearable fitness devices to earn rewards for maintaining a healthier lifestyle. It is likely that the public sector will look to capitalise on the wearable technology trend with a view to boosting telehealth and smart city programs.”

One in five think Google Glass should be banned due to privacy concerns

Despite the many benefits that wearable technology is set to deliver for both consumers and governments, there remain serious concerns about privacy, with over half (51 per cent) of respondents citing it as a barrier to adoption. Almost two thirds (62 per cent) think Google Glass and other wearable devices should be regulated in some form while one in five (20 per cent) are calling for these devices to be banned entirely.

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About the research

The CAST research team was immersed for three weeks in online and offline social spaces (digital ethnography) while using multiple and mixed methods to acquire data (Radial Research). As a method of digital ethnography, Radial Research is a unique approach designed by CAST researchers to rapidly obtain credible and transparent findings. Starting from an epicentre, in this case ‘wearable technology’ and/or ‘wearable computing’, the researchers follow lines of possibility found through trend analysis, crowdsourcing, interviews and online interactions to make visible spaces and subjects using wearable technology. Each site is distinct but interacts and intersects with others. From these sources, participants were identified for interviews or to participate in logging their daily use of devices in a private blog (experience sampling). Some of these participants used their own device while others were given a device to trial for a specified duration.

26 participants were interviewed between 6 and 17 May. One year five and one year six primary school students were given Jawbone Ups to use for a day at school and interviewed throughout the day. Nine participants wore a device and blogged about their experiences between 13 and 17 May.

Employees in a company that gives devices for everyday wear were interviewed but wish to remain anonymous.