The capabilities of these devices are astounding, but so are the potential legal ramifications. From using Fitbit in the courtroom to negative effects of Oculus Rift, wearable technology may eventually turn out to be at the center of personal injury cases in the near future.

Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift is a gaming accessory owned by Facebook. The product is on the market as a development kit for a few hundred dollars. It's primarily used by content developers who want to develop games and virtual environments for their products.

If you search for Oculus Rift on YouTube, you'll see some neat footage of the device's capability for making video-game scenarios come to life. You may also see developers and testers losing their balance and falling if they stand up while using the device, or accidentally hitting an object that's not visible to them when they wear the headset.

The headset comes with an array of warnings, and the potential problems are similar to those faced by the first Wii and the PlayStation users. Enthusiastic gamers who used those systems found themselves losing the controllers or forgetting to pay attention to their real-world environment, which caused injuries to themselves and damage to their surroundings.

The potential impact of the Oculus Rift is similarly fraught with risks. In addition to losing track of nearby objects in the real world, gamers who use the device might also experience disorientation, nausea, and involuntary movements. The literature lists a range of potential side effects.

In an interview, expert personal injury attorney Michael Ehline of EhlineLaw.com stated, "There is no debating that these new wearable technologies are incredible, sophisticated, and most likely beneficial. However, from a legal stance, there are many potential dangers attached to these new devices."

How Oculus Rift might turn up in personal injury cases remains to be seen, but the potential for unforeseen consequences that result from failure to follow instructions for use of the headset will surely result in some interesting legal battles in the near future.

Google Glass

Google Glass has existed for about two years, but it's found a variety of lifestyle applications. From navigation to perfecting your golf swing or messaging on the go, Google Glass is a product for the present and the future.

Now it's being used by a California attorney who believes the device has the potential for significant impact on personal injury cases. He says it could provide evidence to clarify testimony in conjunction with witness testimony.

Right now, he is using Google Glass to become comfortable with wearable tech. He uses it in the courtroom to record interviews and depositions for clients. The use of Google Glass and other wearable tech in the courtroom as backup recording device, for real-time research, and as a source of admissible evidence will likely give rise to new questions and set new precedents.

One unique possibility for Google Glass in the legal arena is using might be in jury selection, with real-time advice from a distant colleague or jury consultant during the process. Attorneys could also use it to stay connected with clients and conduct calendar activities.

More applications will likely become apparent as the general public and legal professionals explore wearable tech.

Fitbit and other exercise monitors

Wearable tracking devices are another type of wearable tech that has caught the attention of the legal industry. One attorney in a personal injury case is hoping to use Fitbit data to establish accident injury effects that have been plaguing a client.

These devices can record and transmit the user's heart rate, activity levels throughout the day, sleeping habits, and distance traveled. They can also monitor the intensity level of activity at any given point.

In the aforementioned case, the woman who was using a tracking device experienced an injury several years ago. She has a history as a personal trainer and led a very active lifestyle prior to the injury.

Now her attorney is hoping to back up her testimony with evidence provided by the Fitbit tracking device. They hope it will show that her current activity levels are below normal for someone in her demographic.

The case will likely set a landmark in the use of wearable technology for evidence in the courtroom. A precedent could be set for use of these devices by prosecution, defense, and insurance companies.

Wearable tech in the future

As devices evolve and expand their ability to track our personal activity on a daily basis, it's likely they will affect how court cases are approached in the future. The potential for impact in personal injury law is the most obvious, perhaps, but other areas of law will probably see uses for wearable tech in the future as well.

A major question in the future of monitoring technology is whether or not the courts will be able to force the disclosure of information from such devices. The data from these gadgets has the potential to help or hinder certain cases significantly, but whether it can remain private is yet to be seen.

Privacy issues will likely become a highly contested point as the use of wearable tech data in legal cases becomes more common. For now, anyone who purchases or uses wearable technology will benefit from reading data privacy policies and warning information related to the devices.

Published on: Jan 2, 2015
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