Wearable technologies

Wearables at Workplace (www.womenofwearables.com)

Women of Wearables tells us that ‘Wearables at Work Next Big Thing’. Much is made of the potential safety dimensions (e.g. panic buttons for staff working by themselves) of such wearables, whilst the control dimension, a version of clocking-in and clocking-out, for example, or ‘mood readers’ that tell whether or not an employee is bored or irritated or looking attentive etc. is downplayed. And whilst the size of the potential market is a source of much rejoicing on these web pages, little attention is paid to the resource implications of such devices, from their material costs, in every sense of that phrase, to their energy drainage to the problem regarding waste disposal that is already much discussed regarding smartphones. Ken Loach’s new film Sorry We Missed You looks at the impact of such technologies on workers, in this instance a woman care worker for the elderly and a male delivery driver, whom are compelled to ‘feed’ a smartphone and a ‘proof of delivery device’ (called a gun by the driver) respectively, to fulfil their work requirements. But neither are automata, and their work conditions are disastrous, not just for them, but for their family lives, and for their clients. Especially in the context of care. Brave new world? I don’t think so.

Gabriele Griffin

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