Issues and Adoption Barriers in Wearable Technologies

Issues and Adoption Barriers in Wearable Technologies

Ali Padyab, Abdolrasoul Habibipour
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJTD.2021010104
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The rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) has given rise to many wearable devices integrated into daily life. However, achieving end-users' long-term adoption is still an issue. While wearables' technological implementation is advancing rapidly, their consequences need to be scrutinized to alleviate the concerns that threaten a strong civil and sustainable society. The purpose of this article is to investigate issues (social, ethical, and ecological) and adoption barriers related to wearable technologies from end-users' perspectives. The authors undertook a systematic literature review combined with two rounds of interviews with domain experts as well as end-users of IoT wearable devices to find relevant issues and adoption barriers. This article summarizes social, ethical, and ecological issues as well as adoption barriers of wearable technologies. These issues and adoption barriers have important implications that need to be addressed to increase the adoption and diffusion of wearable technologies.
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1. Introduction

The term IoT was first used as an emerging global, Internet-based information service architecture that serves as a backbone for ubiquitous computing. The IoT enables smart environments to detect, identify and retrieve information from the surrounding objects and communicate the information over the Internet for different purposes (Weber, 2010). The effects of IoT over lives of billions of people are unavoidable. The IoT is an evolving concept that comprises an increasing number of technologies and exhibits a range of changing features such as low cost and energy consumption which are widely used nowadays such those of smart things. One of such application domains is wearable IoT (or wearable technologies) which are “devices that can be worn or mated with the human skin to continuously and closely monitor an individual’s activities, without interrupting or limiting the user’s motions” (W. Gao et al., 2016, p. 509). Accordingly, any kind of sensor that needs to be connected to the users’ body or clothes for its primary functionality can be considered as wearable sensor. Examples of these wearables are smart gloves, smart watches, smart glasses, and fitness trackers. Wearable technologies consist of five main functions, namely, the interface, communication, data management, energy management and integrated circuits (Çiçek, 2015). While the market has seen a plethora of wearable devices, some research shows that achieving users’ long-term adoption is still an issue (Ledger & McCaffrey, 2014; Wu et al., 2016). Several studies have pointed to the lack of research and highlighted the issues in relation to adoption of wearables that needs further research (Page, 2015; Sergueeva et al., 2020; Sinha & Gupta, 2019). Adoption and acceptance of wearables by their intended users depend on how various obstacles related to their use and diffusion are addressed (L. Gao & Bai, 2014; Özsungur, 2019a, 2019b). Exploring and alleviating those issues will lead to maximization of the potentials of the wearable devices, it is thus prominent to accurately understand issues that stem from end-users of such devices. There are studies that have explored the contributing and inhibiting factors that influence the adoption of wearable devices from the technological point of view such as mobility, architecture and functionality (Adapa et al., 2018; Chuah et al., 2016; Kim & Shin, 2015), however, non-technological challenges remain as an under-researched area. In addition, most of those studies that have discussed the barriers in relation to the adoption of wearables, have investigated the issue from an organizational perspective (see e.g., Page, 2015; Salem et al., 2020) and therefore, the point of view of end users has been widely neglected.

A bottom-up approach for IoT policy-making, research and service design allows policymakers and practitioners to account for individual’s concerns in relation to their needs (Melis et al., 2016; Padyab & Ståhlbröst, 2018). However, individuals’ perspectives have been largely absent in the research related to the adoption of wearables. Ulrich (2000) argues that the social, ethical and ecological issues and consequences that professional action may impose on others needs to be open to the critique of all those who may be concerned in order to promote a strong civil society. Addressing these issues will lead to acceleration of IoT potentials. Understanding the acceptance of IoT technologies from the perspective of end-users requires exploration of individuals’ concerns embedded in the usage obstacles that inhibit wearables’ adoption. Thus, the purpose of this study is to contribute to understanding individuals’ perceptions of challenges in the domain of wearable technologies. Therefore, this research proposes the following research questions that guide this study: 1) What are the social, ethical and ecological issues in the wearable technologies from individuals’ perspectives? and 2) What are the challenges and constituent barriers related to the end-user adoption of wearable technologies? This understanding will serve as a basis to identify the impediments for wearable sensors to be adopted by end-users. To answer these research questions, the authors conducted a literature review and in-depth interviews with the experts in this field who are also users of wearables. An inductive qualitative analysis was adopted to identify the relevant issues and barriers particular to the wearable technologies. The results of this research will help future research to theorize about influences of user’s decision in adoption of services provided via wearable technologies. From a practical perspective, this study portraits a rich picture of societal debates and questions required as a starting point for the analysis of a sustainable IoT with respect to non-technological issues.

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