With technological advancements growing at a geometric rate, it’s almost inevitable that one day people will be wearing the devices, as standard that can save their lives, give early warning of a heart attack, diagnose irregular heart rates, identify and boost low levels of insulin in diabetics, even send a distress message automatically if someone suffers a cardiac arrest. Today’s wearable medical technology is becoming more and more available to the general public, allowing for faster and more accurate diagnosis (in the case of t-shirts implanted with biometric sensors that can assist with diagnosing Epilepsy) of serious medical conditions. It’s been a long-standing help for people with Diabetes to be able to carry around their own supply of insulin, administering it by schedule or when needed, and for people suffering from life-threatening allergies such as wasp stings to carry an Epi-Pen, capable of delivering a dose of epinephrine to prevent anaphylactic shock.
The question to be asked is whether these life-saving devices that are fast becoming readily available consumer items could actually be posing a health threat of their own.
Prone to Hacking and Attack
First of all, there’s the question of security. With the digital world rife with hackers and compromised files and data, there is a very real possibility someone wearing digital medical tech could be exposed to malevolent forces. In a recent Black Hat conference a researcher demonstrated how it could be possible for a hacker to take control, from almost a Kilometre away, of an insulin pump and deliver a fatal dose to its user. It’s not so far-fetched to imagine this applying to someone on a morphine drip or even a pacemaker. With many political activists today, taking very real action against whom they consider to be their oppressors, there is a very realistic threat to politicians, institutional chiefs and other figures with corporate competitors. In fact, such was the concern over the possibility of modern pacemaker wireless protocols being exploited to discharge over 800 volts to their users that former U.S vice-president Dick Cheney ordered his doctors to disable the wireless capacity of his heart-pump.
Do We Want to be Radioactive?
Another concern of wearable medical technology is the potential emission of radio waves, particularly in technology that operates on a wireless basis or through its operation sends or receives data. It’s the same technology that we see present today in the latest convenience devices, such as smart watches, mobile phones and smart glasses, meaning they emit microwave radiations, especially when Wi-Fi. Bluetooth usage emits much lower levels of radio frequency (RF), though for that reason the performance of the device may be less effective.
Speaking from Yale School of Medicine, department chairman Hugh Taylor advised that some devices are designed to be worn in certain areas around the body, thereby increased their body’s potential exposure to RF. Even though many devices rely on Bluetooth technology for their functions, many users will keep them worn on the body for prolonged periods of time, which causes the RF absorbed to accumulate due to such lengthy exposure.
So, remember the stories and health warnings given when everyone started using mobile phones. Then, take that warning and imagine the potential radiation increasing exponentially as the technology developed. Now, imagine being exposed to those levels of radiation for not just the length of a phone call, but the whole day. And perhaps, the whole night too. It’s been a long-contested argument that there was no weight to the mobile phone “Scare-mongering”. But if you think about the potential consequences, do you really want to risk it?