Wearable Technology: Small Devices With A Large Impact

In the time we live in, technology has evolved, and continues to do so, at a rapid pace.  In the past decade, we’ve seen the introduction of tablets, such as the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab, which revolutionized the way lawyers view, store, and access documents.

Recently, society has seen a large uptick in the amount of people utilizing “wearables.”

What Are Wearables? Wearables are smart electronic devices that are typically worn on a person’s wrist, as a watch would be.  Wearables provide a person with the time, just as a watch, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.  Most wearable devices track numerous aspects of a person’s activity.  Wearable technology is an example of the Internet of Things, meaning wearables collect, store, and exchange user data. 

Why Is Wearable Technology Important?  Most wearables have the ability to store crucial information, unique to the individual wearing the item.  For example, depending on the wearable being utilized, a wearable can store information regarding a person’s heartbeat, heart rate, amount of steps taken, periods of activity and inactivity, location, and time spent sleeping, just to name a few.  This information is stored through the wearable device, creating a vast portfolio on the user.  Think of wearable technology as a biographical author of the user’s life, documenting nearly everything the person does.

How Does Wearable Technology Affect Lawyers?  Wearables have the ability to monitor, store, and track a person’s movements and activities at all times.  Suddenly, these seemingly innocuous devices can become the user’s best or worst witness.  Wearables have the ability to confirm or repudiate a deponent’s testimony.  Additionally, the information ascertained from wearables has the potential to lead to other discoverable information that otherwise would have been unknown. 

Substantial consideration should be given to adding a new line of questioning when conducting a deposition regarding a deponent’s ownership and use of wearable technology, as well as detailed questioning regarding a deponent’s daily activities because the information obtained from wearable technology can be invaluable to a lawsuit.

How To Obtain Wearable Information?  The easiest way to obtain this information, as any information, is through consent.  If that is unsuccessful and a lawsuit has commenced, traditional discovery procedures such as a demand for production of documents or more specific interrogatories may be more fruitful.  If those methods do not produce the desired documents, it would be advisable to serve a subpoena on the manufacturer of the wearable technology.  However, be prepared to face opposition, as most technology companies are resistant to providing this information without a court order.

Are Wearables A Trend?  Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 8.4 billion connected “things” will be in use worldwide in 2017, which is up 31% from 2016.  Gartner forecasts that number will increase to 20.4 billion by 2020. 

It appears wearables are here to stay, at least until the next technologically evolutional device.  While wearable technology exists and is prevalent, it would behoove attorneys to utilize the unique information stored therein to further strengthen their positions.

Qualified and experienced attorneys at Hoagland Longo are available to assist you.