Will Apple Watch take wearables to the masses?

This week Apple launched, what it calls “the most advanced timepiece ever created” – the Apple Watch. At an event in San Francisco this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook heralded their new wearable as “the most personal device we have ever created. It’s not just with you. It’s on you.”

With this device consumers will be able to make credit card payments, navigate their way around cities, check into flights and even operate their toasters at just the flick of their wrists. Just as Star Trek predicted, you can even make calls on the Apple Watch using the built in microphone and speaker. We, as consumers, want faster, simpler solutions to manage our everyday lives and Apple has offered us just that.

It is this offer of increased efficiency and ease that is causing the wearable device buzz in the consumer technology industry. In fact, it is predicted that by 2018 the wearable device market will be worth $12.6 billion. You just have to look at the range of devices launched at Mobile World Congress last week to see how big a market this is set to become.

Yet so far, whilst demand has steadily been growing with 21m wearable devices sold in 2014 according to IDC, these devices have yet to truly hit the mainstream. But just as Apple pushed other technology categories into the market and created mass consumer appeal – such as with the iPod, iPhone and iPad – many experts are predicting that the Apple Watch could be THE product we’ve been waiting for to kick start widespread adoption of wearable technology.

And as adoption grows, you can bet that cybercriminals will start to invest more effort and resource into exploiting the very lucrative data made available on these devices. We know that healthcare data sells at ten times the price of credit card data on the black market, and with wearables able to collect and monitor your heart rate and other personal information, consumers will need to take the security of these devices, and the data they collect, seriously.

In addition, we will also need to consider privacy implications that come with some of the apps that track individuals and their activity. Especially so, when you consider that a recent Intel Security report found that 82% of mobile apps were able to track when Wi-Fi and data networks are used and the device’s current and last location. By not taking steps to secure and manage their personal data, consumers are leaving themselves open to having their private information intercepted.

The high-profile nature of the Apple Watch will surely spark widespread interest and adoption of smartwatches and other wearable devices among consumers during 2015. We need to be ready. Securing the vast amounts of data created by these high-tech devices will need to be a number one priority for consumers to keep their personal data well and truly safe in their own hands.

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