Physical and privacy risks relating to wearable devices has prompted a familiar face in the safety arena to research the technology. With so many questions
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.claimsjournal.com
With so many questions relating to wearable device safety, Underwriters Laboratories has delved into the wearable technology space, said Anura Fernando, principal engineer, eHealth – Medical Systems Interoperability and mHealth at Underwriter Laboratories. Initially, UL’s research was focused mainly on materials characteristics that were relevant to either the initiation or spread of a fire. Fernando said that its research has gradually expanded into examining an entire product’s life cycle. – “We were originally involved in testing products after they were developed and as they were getting ready to enter the market, to make sure that they met this baseline of safety requirements that would ensure that they didn’t catch on fire or pose a shock hazard,” explained Fernando. “We began to recognize that these kinds of safety issues really need to be thought about right from the very beginning of the product’s life cycle…at its inception.” For the past 30 years, UL has worked with manufacturers from product concept all the way through decommissioning, “It’s important to think about what happens to the product after it’s finished on the market. How do you dispose of it? What are some of the material disposal considerations? Do the products have hazardous materials that shouldn’t be disposed of in landfills?” he said. “Now we’ve shifted to this begin to end life cycle model.” “The Internet of Things and cloud computing are very much analogous today to what electricity was 100 years ago. We are beginning to look more and more at data, what role data plays. New ways that power is utilized.” – In addition, UL is analyzing how data is protected, examining encryption and storage methods.
“How do you ensure the integrity of data, so that data that starts from point A doesn’t end up somehow convoluted into something else when it arrives at point B? What do you do about hackers who are trying to penetrate these systems?” – How a wearable device product interacts with human skin is also being analyzed. Fernando explained that there are many different plastic and electronic components packaged in wearable applications. He said different use scenarios need to be considered. “If it’s a wearable product that’s going to be in long term contact with human skin, then you may want to know what its bio compatibility characteristics are,” “The very same tools that we use to characterize the material for electrical purposes, things like infrared spectroscopy, can now be used to also characterize the materials relative to biocompatibility. Then once the biocompatibility of the material’s been tracked, then you have things like its IR (infrared) signature that we can track to make sure that the material consistency remains the same.” Many of the devices use lithium ion rechargeable batteries. It’s important to think in terms of how this type of technology could fail and what the results of failure would be.