Wearables and My Brother’s Keeper
John Wade

Wearables and My Brother’s Keeper

Where Business and Buy-In Meet

John Wade June 15, 2015 Posted in: Blog Posts, Predictive Analytics
I just read an online article by Michelle Kerr in Risk & Insurance titled Putting Wearables to Work. The article explored potential uses of wearables in prevention of and rehabilitation from injuries. Several interesting observations were made, including the ability of these devices to measure and record environmental and physical conditions, the decreasing costs of wearables, and their acceptability around the world. Liability and privacy concerns were also put forth.

But while we Americans like our toys, we are not as keen on being personally monitored. The Risk & Insurance article included a chart showing survey results by nation of the percentage of survey participants who believe that wearable technologies could benefit the workplace. I don’t know how the survey was conducted, but the results were striking. While countries that might be more physical labor intensive (Mexico, China and India) scored 90%, the United States was only at 48%. Even the major European countries came in at close to 70%. But I have little doubt that we Americans will eventually become avid users of wearable technology.

As a casual user of a dumb flip phone, the growing applications of nanotechnologies is quite impressive and somewhat intimidating to me. Everyone wants to monitor my whereabouts, my daily driving habits, and now my heart rate. The good news is that all this information can be and is being put to good use. On the social side we are increasing the opportunities for increased health and awareness. On the professional side we are finding better information for underwriting, marketing, rating, reserving, loss control and loss mitigation.

What does all this mean to me as an actuary? The times, they are a changin’. I will have to account for ever increasing technology and the data it generates. Actuaries have a good start in the development and application of statistical analysis methods, and ongoing explosions of available information will feed our continued improvement in and use of data analysis. But will the public buy in to the sharing of personal information? According to the stats above, yes. Maybe not as quick in the U.S., but I’m guessing still quicker than we are going to be ready to harvest the data.

That’s why most of us became actuaries. We are data junkies.


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