The commercialization of personal data has long been a looming threat, but it's getting more complicated as wearable technologies become more ingrained in our daily lives. According to a new report, tech like activity-tracking wristband Fitbit and home automation products by Nest are being used to collect customer data, which serve as the basis of a secondary stream of revenue for those companies.
"Smart-thermostat maker Nest Labs (which is being acquired by Google for $3.2 billion) has quietly built a side business managing the energy consumption of a slice of its customers on behalf of electric companies. In wearables, health tracker Fitbit is selling companies the tracking bracelets and analytics services to better manage their health care budgets, and its rival Jawbone may be preparing to do the same," Forbes explains.
Both companies insist that these are benign uses of collected data, with Fitbit pointing out that tracking employee fitness could, for instance, lower insurance rates. Still, the implications open up alarming possibilities for the future of customer data as a market unto itself.