Thursday, November 30, 2023

Smartwatch fascination is welcoming a multipronged crisis ⭐


A smartwatch might be a multitasking device tracking and showing a wide range of biometric data. But there is a wide range of hazards related to it, including physical-mental health and data safety.

If the late 1990s’ were about the emergence of the internet and telecommunications, the first decade of this century was about smartphones and new telecom technologies. Later in the second decade of this century, the world came to know about new technological innovations. Around 80% of the people around us are using smartwatches or smart bands. Every major conventional wristwatch manufacturer has dived into this segment, while the new technology startups too have launched their wide range of products in the segment.

Overall, smart wearables such as smartwatches and smart bands have become the next most common devices after smartphones. Remember the funky electronic Casio watches with a calculator, backlit or Indiglo features from our childhood? Gone are the days of those watches.

Clearly, wristwatches that show just time and date have become passe. Smartwatches have become the new in-thing. These smartwatches come as multi-feature devices showing a whole lot of information besides time and date. They track your steps, heart rates, blood pressure, stress level, body temperatures, location, oxygen saturation, and monitor sleep quality. You can even receive or reject phone calls from some of these smart wearables and check Whatsapp messages or texts as well. Overall, these smartwatches or smart bands offer a wide range of functionalities, that was unthinkable even a half-decade ago. And the number of these functionalities is growing as well.

A large number of fitness enthusiasts or fashion enthusiasts are very much attracted to these smartwatches, irrespective of their ages and genders or any other demographics. The number of these users is increasing significantly. Clearly, they are very tempting because of the convenience they offer and the style as well. The users wear these smartwatches almost 24×7. This is where a major concern lies.


The smartwatches are smart enough to make you sick

While we always discuss the radiation impact from mobile phones, desktop computers, laptops or telecommunication towers; have you ever thought about the radiation level from these smartwatches? Well, the answer is probably never.

Smart wearables, including smartwatches and smart bands, use radio frequency transmitters to connect with other devices or networks. These wearable devices use WiFi, Bluetooth, and cellular networks. In this process, these smartwatches or other fitness trackers emit electromagnetic radiation just like the other wireless gadgets like smartwatches.

This electromagnetic radiation is something that is also available in visible light, microwave radiation, ultraviolet radiation and x-rays as well. Photons with different energies create electromagnetic radiation. The radiation is carcinogenic. The shorter the wavelength is, the more energy per photon is created.

Now think about your smartwatch continuously connecting with your smartphone and you are wearing that 24×7. This is the scary part that the smartwatches or smart bands are designed and marketed to be worn all day, every day.

Can you imagine the level of electromagnetic radiation or energy your body is being exposed to?


Where the danger lies?

These wireless gadgets are the source of continuous electromagnetic radiation that can have a dangerous effect on the body over a long period of radiation absorption. There could be multiple biological impacts. It’s not like the electromagnetic radiation emission is active only when the device is in use. The radiofrequency radiation is emitted as long as they have Bluetooth enabled. It is very obvious that the closer you are to a radiation source, the more hazardous the effects will be on your body.

There have been already reports of side effects where smartwatches or smart devices have been worn for a longer period. These radiofrequency radiation-related include mood swings, headaches, disrupted sleeping patterns, insomnia, nausea and even reproductive issues as well. These side effects could be just the tip of an iceberg. In the case of people with pacemakers, the effects could be even more dangerous. Smart wearables can interfere with pacemakers very easily and disrupt their functioning.

The higher density of radiofrequency radiation can mutate the DNA as well, just as gamma-ray, X-ray or UV photons do. The radiation level emitted by smartwatches or smartphones or any other smart wireless devices is not sufficient to alter DNA. But prolonged exposure to the radiation from these devices can certainly come with hazardous health impacts.

The owner’s manual for the smartwatches and other smart wearables comes with warnings about a possible interference with medical implants, written in the fine print. They also come with warnings about the possible hazards. But, do we pay attention to the manuals ever? These warnings are simply blatant admission that the radiofrequency radiation emission from these smart devices is certainly impactful.

Stay healthy

  • Conventional watches have served us just fine for decades. Consider one if you don’t really need a smartwatch.
  • Switch your smartwatch to airplane mode, which disables WiFi, Bluetooth, and cellular data but allows several features.
  • Don’t wear a smartwatch while you sleep, as that allows your body to EMF exposure the entire time.

Even smartwatches have their limitations

Smartwatches or other smart wearables are not always accurate. The data they track and show might be wrong as well. The data they gather can be false due to the inaccuracy of their sensors. It is often seen that step calculators or SPO2 tracking or heart rate monitoring show inaccurate data.

The small digital screen of the smartwatches can be problematic for persons with visual problems. Watching these smartwatches can cause eye strain or eye fatigue at times.


Are you being watched smartly?

Besides the health hazard issues, there are other concerns around smartwatches. Data security.

In the last few years, data security concerns have grown incessantly. While some consumer gadget users are concerned about their data security being breached by the manufacturers or service providers of those devices, the majority of the people have no clue about this. They don’t have any idea what data security is, or they are ignorant about it.

The smartwatches have their own vulnerability on this front too. The smartwatches and their compliant applications store a whole lot of data about the user. These data are stored on the cloud-based server of the manufacturer or the service provider. No matter how much the companies assure you about the safety of this data storage, you might not know the reality or check it at all.

A majority of people nowadays use their smartphones to pay digitally. Thus, connecting smart wearables with the smartphone can become dangerous. The signal can be intercepted. There is always a possibility for information transmitted wirelessly to be hacked in different ways, as the hackers can get access to your personal data, especially if it is not encrypted.

This is something that should be paid more attention to by the consumers only. remember, the companies are here to sell their products. If consumers don’t pay attention to the security details, manufacturers won’t be devoted to paying enough time to that. It is as simple as that.

Also Read: New health crisis lurching in the shadow of pandemic and work from home

Shreyasi Dey
Shreyasi Dey
Having extensive experience in accounts and inventory management, Shreyasi Dey has been a passionate writer and a city journalist. Worked with The Times of India, Ei Samay, Discovery India, Dainik Sambad, Aajkaal.


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