A Social Impact Lens On Wearable Technology


Image: africanappproject.com

Currently, wearable tech devices are all the rage. It's too soon to tell if this is a trend or the way of the future. But one thing's for sure, plenty of consumer technology on the market can be leveraged for social change, so wearables could foreseeably be harnessed for the same. 

The social impact possibilities for wearable tech products are endless, as they have potential to change healthcare, and perhaps most dramatically, aid rural and underserved communities. For instance, through documenting aspects of your life with the Core, Sony’s wearable tech product, app developers can use that data to collect and analyze demographic information (i.e. geographical location, socioeconomic status, or age). Using these devices could also alter health care: patients would go home wearing these devices while medical staff monitor the transmitted data remotely. 

There is debate over how these products would be funded, distributed, and used for research in areas where technology is limited. However, as the availability and popularity of these tech devices will increase, the limitations of reaching out to a diverse crowd will decrease. Cell phones started the same way. They were once trendy objects that were not available to the general public. 

A couple of decades later, mobile phones are being used for social change. Not only are there tools like Urgent Call that allow the user to get an emergency call regardless of phones setting or signal strength, but people widely use their phones for simple tasks like taking photos and using social media. These actions have spurred revolutions and changed regimes. Other applications like WinSenga help midwives hear the heartbeat of a baby. Ustad Mobile uses basic feature phones for interactive multimedia learning in classroom settings where the internet is not readily accessible. These tools use cell phones to impact a variety of issues, and wearable tech devices will be able to do the same once they are being used by a larger portion of the population.

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