Google is reportedly taking another step in the Wearables market, via its health division Verily. According to tech media sources Google is designing footwear embedded with sensors that can tell how much the user weighs and monitor their activity. As well as monitoring fitness levels, the shoes can also be programmed to detect falls – meaning that they could appeal to older customers, as they could send alerts to carers or families. You can read more about the shoes from Alphabet here.
With this latest example in the trend of growing consumer sources of data, what are the possible implications for the insurance sector? Might insurers now use this technology and others like it to determine how much customers should be charged? It could act as an early warning system in sheltered accommodation and nursing homes too, allowing owners to obtain cheaper PI cover, as the risk of vulnerable people falling is arguably reduced.
Aimee Szilaki, Vice President, Health Business Leader, for Capgemini, commented;
“While wearables have become mainstream for health and fitness for some time, we see new entrants looking to both disrupt and engage as never before. The announcement by Verily to introduce shoes with weight and movement sensors is yet another example of this trend. Sensors to monitor steps and exercise, blood pressure, gait change, and even falls aren’t new, but what is new the connectivity from the devices to not only their users, caregivers and families, but health insurers and providers as well.
As social media becomes ever more pervasive in terms of readily accessible information combined with such wearables as shoes, it’s easily conceivable that an insurer could not only monitor members for health data, but in fact other less tangible lifestyle information that may delve into privacy issues yet to be addressed.”