Many of us are anxious to reap the full benefits offered by wearable Health Tech devices, but in the rush to take advantage of this new technology, we need to pause to ask the question, “Is it safe?” Already, there have been reports of irritation caused by fitness bands and other problems. And with the FDA focusing more on devices that play a diagnostic role, many devices will receive little or no scrutiny by government agencies.
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is working to fill this gap. As reported by eWeek, the organization is working to create a framework for testing and certifying wearable devices. Wearable devices have the potential to pose significant risks for users. For example, battery technology such as lithium ion can result in overheating which could create a dangerous situation for the user, depending on where the device is worn, whether the user is asleep, and other conditions. Radio frequencies for devices worn close to the body need to be carefully assessed, and there is the potential for skin reactions to materials used to make the devices. The group is even looking at data security as a possible area of risk, requiring protection from hackers.
According to the article, UL hopes to have the framework for wearables developed by the end of 2015. The coverage could range from informal test reports to sophisticated lab tests and certification. This is an important area and one that wearable manufacturers should endorse and support. This is a complex and fast-growing field, and we should do everything we can to avoid a scenario that would erode consumer confidence in wearable Health Tech products.