Wearables

Debate: How Could the Physical-Security Industry Deploy Wearable Tech?

Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

Author Bio ▼

Adam Bannister is editor of IFSEC Global. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, he has been at the helm of the UK's leading fire and security publication since 2014.
January 19, 2016

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The wearables market has long since diversified beyond the smart wrist watch or bracelet.

From wearable shoes and clothes to wearable skin patches (to measure UV light exposure, perspiration or other indicators) a dizzying array of devices have launched in recent years.

While most are aimed at the consumer market, there are also many developed for industry, like this augmented reality helmet for industrial environments or devices aimed at the healthcare sector.

But how could wearable technology be harnessed by the security industry?

We asked a range of security experts how they see the technology being deployed by security guards and security services in the coming years.


kevin curran“Soon we can expect to see more neuro-surgical implantations of wearable devices linking our nervous systems directly to embedded devices to assist people”

Kevin Curran, senior member, IEEE; senior lecturer, Computer Science, University of Ulster; and group leader, Ambient Intelligence Research Group, University of Ulster
“Wearable tech will find a number of niche areas such as assisting lone workers. Intel for instance have showcased a ProGlove, a device meant for factory workers. It is intended for scenarios such as changing a tyre on a car so that it could walk you through the steps needed to replace it and check for correct components.

“Wearables which track a security guards’ presence, health signs and much more may indeed be developed. They can add a layer of security to existing protection.

“In some ways, wearables could create ‘super’ police forces. Wearables can create superior beings.

“Wearable technology has the power to enhance all walks of life. We are beginning to see some pioneering experiments with wearables but soon we can expect to see more neuro-surgical implantations of wearable devices linking our nervous systems directly to embedded devices to assist people.

“Ultimately, wearable computing facilitates a new form of human-computer interaction comprising a small body-worn computer (eg, user-programmable device) that is always on and always ready.

“The ‘always ready’ capability leads to a new form of synergy between human and computer, characterized by long-term adaptation through constancy of user interface. Basically, it will extend the body of people to enable them to live super functioning lives so why not in the area of policing.”

Correction: these comments were originally attributed, erroneously, to Professor Steven Furnell, IEEE senior member and professor of Information Systems Security and head of the Centre for Information Security & Network Research at the University of Plymouth. Apologies from IFSEC Global to Professor Furnell for this mistake


mwr security

“As wearables become more advanced, it may be possible to embed biometric data into them, using things like gait or voice”

Jahmel Harris, Security Consultant, MWR InfoSecurity

“We are already seeing wearables used for identification. In 2013 the NFC ring was successfully funded on Kickstarter. This ring uses an embedded NFC chip to identify an individual and can be used for access control systems and authentication for smart phones, computers and locks.

“As wearables become more advanced, it may be possible to embed biometric data into them, using things like gait or voice. This could have implications in many areas – including payments and physical security. A lost or stolen wearable device would be like losing the keys to your kingdom.”


mark stanislav

“Much like any technology, a risk versus reward determination must be made as to whether a product’s features are worth its potential negative outcomes”

Mark Stanislav, Senior Security Consultant, Rapid7

“Much like any technology, a risk versus reward determination must be made as to whether a product’s features are worth its potential negative outcomes.

“If a security guard were to use a wearable to ‘check-in’ during their nightly rounds, a criminal may want that data to help plan a break-in of a protected facility. Still, the convenience of that device for the employee and better tracking data for their employer likely outweighs the risk of what is more of a Hollywood movie plot than a real threat.

“Wearables are often a source of health and location data, and privacy violations are certainly an ongoing concern. Whether data could be stolen by being in proximity to an attacker or it gets leaked through an insecure web site, it’s crucial that wearable purchasers think about how much that data is worth to their privacy and safety before buying a device.

“As wearables continue to grow in usage for digital authentication and door entry, the risks from devices being compromised increases dramatically. If Apple can do with smart watches what they’ve done with smart phones and tablets, the wearable industry is about to see its first glimpse into a mature future that will surely change what we even think of today as a wearable. There’s a lot of excitement – and due concern – ahead in the journey of wearable computing.”


patrick dealtry

“Like all technology it starts out as a solution looking for a problem. The question [for any device] will be: is it any more than a gimmick?”

Patrick Dealtry, founder and former chairman, BSIA Lone Working Group (read his Lone Worker Blog)

“There’s a lot of ‘smart watches’ available from the Far East, from China and Taiwan. I know a few lone workers who have tried them and discarded them.

“But I suspect it will become much more common, though like everything else it’s the boring bits like battery power that are the problem. Of course, watches could be solar-powered.

There is possibly potential for sensors on the body to communicate with a smartphone via bluetooth, and send stuff that way. The police had to bring out a special instruction on the use of body worn video cameras. In the lone worker world, where people are starting to upload videos of incidents, then whats the data protection consequences of things like that?

Like all technology it starts out as a solution looking for a problem. The question [for any device] will be: is it any more than a gimmick?


duncan james insurance

“We see wearable tech as something that will help the security world enormously, from helping to collect and gather evidence to helping operatives on the ground with instruction and direction”

Duncan Spencer, founder and MD, Insurance2Go

“We see wearable tech as something that will help the security world enormously, from helping to collect and gather evidence to helping operatives on the ground with instruction and direction.

“Think of the cyclist who helped with more than 70 convictions for poor driving by being able to submit video evidence from a camera he wears when cycling.

“Wearable tech will also be able to help those who operate in challenging environments to make them aware of extremes that they should be wary of from relatively simple applications based on temperatures and humidity to more complex situations where the user needs to be careful of potential gas emissions be they in an industrial context or even in battle scenarios.”


 

james stables warable“Wearable cameras such as the Taser AXON Body (inset) are capable of helping add that extra element of personal security, and the latest smartwatches boast GPS, which can aid those looking to support security workers, and get help faster”

James Stables, senior editor of Wareable

“In the US they equipped cops with cameras to try and prevent a repeat of Ferguson.

“Wearable cameras help increase the security of the wearer, generate better evidence and, most importantly, help hold police and security to account.

“Wearable cameras such as the Taser AXON Body (inset) are capable of helping add that extra element of personal security, and the latest smartwatches boast GPS, which can aid those looking to support security workers, and get help faster.

“Personal security wearables are a burgeoning subcategory, especially for women. Products like Cuff and the First Sign hair clip (top image) both turn simple accessories into GPS-enabled alarm systems, which can send a message for help.

“It’s a sad reality that these wearables have to exist, but they’re gaining popularity.”


 

“It’s only a matter of time before pretty much every working law enforcement and security operative will be eventually be wearing at least one form of recording device with the blessing of the general public as standard practice”

Cusack Gordon, MD, Global Focus Ltd

“The more footage available in public areas, the better, where extremist acts are concerned. Guards with cameras will be excellent information sources for identifying individuals as well as deterrents.

“Invasion of privacy is often raised as an argument against the use of cameras but with limited access to footage (only where a crime may be solved by its use) the means justifies the end. Provided the footage is automatically accessible by impartial individuals, including elected members of the public, we can only gain by the inclusion of this equipment.

Go Pro cameras and mobile phone videos are all freely accessible to members of the public to use. Generations are growing up in a world where they have already accepted CCTV as a normal aspect of everyday life it’s only a matter of time before pretty much every working law enforcement and security operative will be eventually be wearing at least one form of recording device with the blessing of the general public as standard practice.

“I envisage a time in the not too distant future where canny defence lawyers would use the absence of incriminating camera footage as a reason to dismiss charges against their client.

“If there is a discovery of weapons or drugs during searches; why not film the entire process and avoid the possibility of claims of a police planting incriminating evidence and why wouldn’t you ensure very tactical firearms officer wore on as standard?

“Wearable technology is limited only by our imagination.

“In built body armour, cameras and radios with transmitters are all available now separately so it’s a simple step to combine them in one.”

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Augmented Reality through wearable ` tech ` , perhaps there are potential benefits ; but , beware the potential Health Hazards of surgical implantation as a means of facilitating a ` Human / Technology ` interface ! Aside from the obvious risks & consequences of infection , there are also serious ` Medico – Ethical ` issues , such as who is the beneficiary of such a surgical procedure ?

One for the Ethics Committee of the Royal College of Surgeons , me thinks !