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Social, Ethical and Ecological Issues in Wearable TechnologiesSocial, Ethical and Ecological Issues inWearable TechnologiesCompleted ResearchAbdolrasoul HabibipourAli PadyabLuleå University of TechnologyLuleå University of ltu.seAnna StåhlbröstLuleå University of [email protected] rapid growth of Internet of Things (IoT) has given rise to a plethora of wearable devices integratedinto daily life, however achieving end-user’s long-term adoption is still an issue. The purpose of this paperis to investigate social, ethical and ecological issues related to wearable technologies from end-users’perspectives. We undertook a systematic literature review as well as two rounds of interviews with domainexperts as well as end-users of IoT wearable devices to find relevant issues related to social, ethical andecological. After synthesizing the results, eighteen issues found to be relevant to the wearabletechnologies. These issues have important implications for reducing the negative barriers that challengethe adoption of wearable technologies. The originality of this study lies with its non-technological focusthat provides insights into issues that are rooted into individuals’ concerns.KeywordsWearable Technologies, IoT, Social issues, Ethical issues, Ecological Issues, End-usersIntroductionThe term IoT, was first used as an emerging global, Internet-based information service architecture thatserves as a backbone for ubiquitous computing. The IoT enables smart environments to detect, identifyand retrieve information from the surrounding objects and communicate the information to internet fordifference purposes (Weber 2010). While it is expected that around 9 IoT devices will be available for eachperson by the year 2025 (74 billion devices will be connected by the year 2025 (Statista 2018) and worldpopulation is expected to reach 8.1 billion people by that time (Maqbool 2013)), so the effects of IoT overlives of billions of people is unavoidable. IoT brings challenges regarding its adoption and diffusion. Oneexample is the information collected from the IoT devices that encompass the information about a person,in which increases privacy risks and consequently adoption intention of IoT services (Hsu and Lin 2016).Privacy concerns is one of the most researched topics regarding adoption barriers and issues related to thetechnologies that are enablers of IoT such as wireless sensor networks (e.g. Li et al., 2009), radiofrequency identification (e.g. Juels, 2006) and mobile applications (e.g. Christin et al., 2012). To this end,studies in the IoT are limited on technological challenges such IoT design, architecture andimplementation (Atzori et al. 2010; Uckelmann et al. 2011). However, despite the importance of thedevelopments within the field of IoT, researchers know little about the concerns in the IoT from theperspectives of the people who are affected. User acceptance toward a technology is the majordeterminant of actual usage behavior (Yi et al. 2006). Additionally, user acceptance in the IoT is barely atechnical issue and other challenges should be considered attracting and retaining IoT users.The IoT is an evolving concept that comprises an increasing number of technologies and exhibits a rangeof changing features such as low cost and energy consumption which are widely used nowadays suchthose of smart things. Current study is only limited to wearable technologies as one application domain ofTwenty-fifth Americas Conference on Information Systems, Cancun, 20191

Social, Ethical and Ecological Issues in Wearable Technologiesthe IoT. The simplest definition for wearable technologies is the technological devices that are wearableon a user’s body (Nugroho and Beilharz 2010). Accordingly, any kind of sensor that needs to be connectedto the users’ body or clothes for its primary functionality can be considered as wearable sensors and isincluded in our study. Examples of these wearables are smart gloves, smart watches, smart glasses andfitness trackers. Wearable technologies consist of five main functions namely, the interface,communication, data management, energy management and integrated circuits (Çiçek 2015). While themarket has seen a plethora of wearable devices, some research shows that achieving users’ long-termadoption is still an issue (Ledger and McCaffrey 2014; Wu et al. 2016). Exploring and alleviating thoseissues will lead to maximization of the potentials of the wearable devices, it is thus prominent toaccurately understand issues stem from end-users of such devices. There exist studies that have exploredthe contributing and inhibiting factors that influence the adoption of wearable devices from thetechnological point of view such as mobility, architecture and functionality (Adapa et al. 2018; Chuah etal. 2016; Kim and Shin 2015), however, non-technological challenges remain as an under-researched area.A bottom-up approach for IoT policy-making, research and service design allows policymakers andpractitioners to account for individual’s concerns in relation to their needs (Melis et al. 2016; Padyab andStåhlbröst 2018). However, individuals’ perspectives have been largely absent in the research related tothe IoT adoption barriers. Ulrich (2000) argues that the social, ethical and ecological issues andconsequences that professional action may impose on others needs to be open to the critique of all thosewho may be concerned in order to promote a strong civil society. The purpose of this study is to contributeto the understanding individuals’ perceptions of challenges regarding IoT use in one domain of wearabletechnologies. Thus, this research proposes the following research question that guides this study: Whatare the social, ethical and ecological issues in the wearable technologies from individuals’ perspectives?This understanding will serve as a basis to identify the barriers for wearable sensors to be adopted by endusers. To answer this research question, we conducted a literature review and in-depth interview withexperts and individuals. An inductive qualitative analysis was adopted to identify the relevant issuesparticular to the wearable technologies. The results of this research will help future research to theorizeabout influences of user’s decision in adoption of services provided via wearable technologies. From apractical perspective, this study portraits a rich picture of societal debates and questions required as astarting point to analyze a sustainable IoT with respect to non-technological issues.The structure of this article is as follows: first, the research methodology is presented. This is followed bypresenting the findings of this study under social, ethical and ecological categories. Next, thecontributions and implications of the results are discussed. Finally, limitations and ideas for furtherresearch are indicated.MethodologyQualitative data collection was conducted in different phases with different sources of data in each phase.The corroboration of data sources allowed us to achieve this rich picture we set out to achieve, meaningthat primary and secondary data were used in this study, where each phase’s data collection gave insightsto the later phase.First Phase - Literature ReviewThe first phase comprised of understanding the ethical, social and ecological issues related to wearabledevices discussed in the literature. The method employed for this review was guided by Webster andWatson (2002). A literature review is a natural starting point in order to have an initial set of issues thatare known to researchers. Literature search was performed from February to April 2018, limited toarticles in English only. We grounded our review in the population of IS literature published between2005 and 2019. The reason for selecting this period was that wearable technologies have just become apopular topic over the past decade (Çiçek 2015). The starting point of any review is to retrieve small setsof highly relevant publications in high ranked journals indexed in Web of Science. Next, the search wasexpanded into conference proceeding databases to identify papers that focused on wearable technologies.ACM Digital library, IEE and AIS proceeding databases were elected for this purpose since they cover afair amount of proceeding publishes. Using search engines of digital databases and combination of terms“wearable” “technology”, “wearable technology” and “Wearable technologies”, the largest amount ofreturned hits was considered for inclusion.Twenty-fifth Americas Conference on Information Systems, Cancun, 20192

Social, Ethical and Ecological Issues in Wearable TechnologiesThe titles and abstracts of each article were examined to verify for inclusion and after initial screening, 78articles were then acceded into more detailed investigation. The articles focusing only on the technologicalissues were excluded from the review. A total of 26 papers were identified to be relevant, i.e. mentionedabout the social ethical and ecological issues related to wearable devices.At the end of this phase, 39 issues were extracted from the literature. After removing duplicates andgrouping them, we identified 14 issues that could be grouped into 8 high-level categories of: Privacyprotection, Security of physical and digital assets, Intellectual Property Right (IPR) issues, Highpower/energy consumption, Using recyclable material, Limited communication range, Designconstraint/bulky size and Overreliance on the technology.Second Phase - Interviewing ExpertsIn order to promote stronger interaction between research and practice and to obtain more reliableknowledge, social scientists recommend that studies should include different perspectives. Van de Ven(2007, p. 9) emphasized for “.a participative form of research for obtaining the different perspectives ofkey stakeholders (researchers, users, clients, sponsors, and practitioners) in studying complex problems.By involving others and leveraging their different kinds of knowledge, engaged scholarship can produceknowledge that is more penetrating and insightful than when scholars or practitioners work on theproblem alone.” Accordingly, in the second phase, we sought to interview experts who use the wearablesensors and have been active in the development process of wearable technologies. The aim of theinterviews in this phase was to gain insights regarding experts’ perspectives on what they deem as issues,and to reflect on the identified non-technological issues identified in the first phase. Semi-structuredinterviews were conducted with the help of an interview protocol as a guide through the interviewingprocess. The 8 identified categories extracted from the literature formed the basis of the interviewprotocol with some open-ended questions to foster further discussions on new any issues. Tworesearchers conducted each interview with typically one asking the questions and the other one takingnotes and building upon initial questions. In total, 8 interviews were conducted with Swedish andNorwegian experts working in the industry and academia. The interviews were conducted in English andeach lasted between 45 to 90 minutes.All interviews were transcribed from the audio recordings captured during the sessions and were codedand combined using Microsoft Excel 365. The main analysis method employed in this phase wasqualitative data analysis, and performed deductive categorization of the data (Mayring 2000). The textwas classified and coded based participants’ answers under ethical, social and ecological themes. The laststep in the analysis was for the research team to develop a common view of the main themes, therefore alltexts were discussed iteratively and in the case of uncertainties, the research team met and built a sharedmeaning.Third phase - Interviewing End-usersTo explore how individuals think and feel about the issues related to wearable devices, interviews withend-users were conducted allowing for the development of “thick” data. A total of 9 interviews with endusers (among our colleagues, close friends and families) who are already using or have experienced usingwearable technologies were conducted. The demographics of participants varied in terms of occupations(4 student, 5 employed), gender (3 female, 6 male) and age (17 to 55). All interviews were conducted inEnglish and each lasted between 35 to 60 minutes. The procedure for interview was similar to the secondphase, except that new issues found at the second phase was included in the interview protocol. Dataanalysis procedure in this phase was similar to that of second phase.ResultsThe results from the literature review, expert and end-user interviews are presented under social, ethicaland ecological themes. Under each theme, first we will present the issues that were found from theliterature followed by experts’ and end-users’ opinions about these issues and any additional issues whichthey believed to be relevant are presented. After synthesizing all the issues and eliminating redundant orsimilar items, we ended up with the final categories which are shown in table 1.Twenty-fifth Americas Conference on Information Systems, Cancun, 20193

Social, Ethical and Ecological Issues in Wearable TechnologiesEthical issuesSocial issuesEcological issuesPrivacy protectionSecurity of physical and digitalassetsHigh power/energy consumptionSecretly videotaping or recordingPhysical threatsBattery life and heatingSecondary use of dataData threats (informationcontent/leakage)WasteCollecting unnecessary dataIntegrity (e.g. validity andreliability of data)limited communication range andlifespanPersonal data threats (informationcontent/leakage)Overreliance on the technologySoftware reusabilitySecurity of physical and digital assetsReusable materialIntellectual Property Right issuesTable 1. Issues Related to the Wearable TechnologiesSocial Issues in Wearable TechnologiesIssues