• Dangers Affiliated with Wearable Tech
  • March 10, 2015 | Author: Stephen J. Burg
  • Law Firm: Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, P.C. - Englewood Office
  • There is little debate that smart technology has changed the way people communicate and store information. It is also difficult to argue about the benefits these modern devices have brought to just about every industry. Smart technology has evolved from phones and tablets to glasses, watches and even fabrics. While many are praising this as a revolution of data and information, others or concerned not only about cybersecurity measures, but about adverse health affects that these technologies may cause.

    The biggest argument against wearable technologies is not the distractions it causes or the information it collects, which can be stolen, but rather, the radio frequencies it emits when in use. Most wearables use Bluetooth technology, as opposed to Wi-Fi, which emits lower levels of frequency, reported Cloud Tweaks. There are even some devices, such as the FitBit, that make use of Bluetooth Low Energy to use less power than standard Bluetooth devices.

    However, this use of Bluetooth Low Energy concerns some people, as the frequency is considered to be so low it does not even require clearance from the Federal Communications Commission, which tests all devices for Specific Absorption Rates, the rate at which the human body absorbs radiation from radio frequencies.

    Not just Bluetooth
    Fox News reported many of these wearable devices, while typically relying on standard Bluetooth technology, also have the capacity for Wi-Fi. For instance, products such as Google Glass and Optinvent's ORA have Wi-Fi capabilities that can be simply switched on by a user.

    Dr. Joel M. Moskowitz, director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California Berkeley Prevention Research Center School of Public Health, told Fox devices with Wi-Fi capabilities should not be placed near the head or reproductive organs, especially for long periods of time. He noted Google Glass operates with a SAR of 1.42, while the safe limit for SAR exposure is 1.60. But, Moskowitz doesn't think the standard is good enough.

    "The SAR in itself is a problematic standard, because basically it was derived to protect against the acute effect of heating from microwave radiation," Moskowitz said. "It's kind of a bizarre standard, because the effects the health community are concerned about are not thermal in nature. They're the lower intensity exposures that are chronic over time. So the whole SAR framework is outdated."

    Moskowitz also noted that while limited use is probably not going to cause much harm, it is daily exposure over time which raises a great deal of alarm.

    Extended use

    David O. Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany, shared Fox's concerns. While he felt the benefits of wearable technology often outweigh the risks, Carpenter agreed that extended exposure to radio frequencies are a concern, especially as the devices are being worn close to the body more and more.

    "It's the total dose and it's the dose over time," Carpenter said. "The more things you put directly on your body, the greater the exposure."