Smartwatches need privacy boundaries

Smartwatches have become increasingly popular as they change from being little more than a gimmick to an important part of our fast-paced lives.

In March, Google announced a platform for a new line of smartwatches called “Android Wear.” Google promises seamless integration with users’ phones and delivery of only the most relevant info so that the watch isn’t cumbersome.

While some consider smartwatches a reflection of society’s increasing laziness, I believe they serve as a respectable and inevitable response to the vast amount of information to which we  now have access.

Consider the case of Android users on their way to the airport, trying to catch a flight but are stuck in traffic. For them, the most relevant information is their flight status and estimated arrival time. Without a smartwatch, they would have to pull out their phone – already illegal – and sift through various screens and key in some information before they finally get what they want.

A decade ago, access to this information from the car would have been a James Bond-esque luxury. However, we now have access to everything we want to know from wherever. We just need smart products – smartwatches – to help cut out the distractions.

Android Wear marks a significant step in the right direction for managing our lives. However, consumers often forget to think about privacy concerns, which tend to put a damper on advancements in technology. It is nevertheless important to remember that “smart” services can only be as smart as the amount of data we allow them to collect. They analyze our behavior, figure out our habits and try to deliver information that adapts to our individual needs.

Moving forward, as our lives become increasingly digitized, the best strategy for consumers and innovators is to elucidate the boundary between what Google should and shouldn’t be allowed to know about what we’re up to.

Ravi Jain is a freshman majoring in chemistry.