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Left to Their Own Devices


Queen’s University



Project Leader(s)

David Lyon and David Murakami Wood, Department of Sociology


This research project highlights the current state of wearable devices being used in workplaces; the types of devices and ways they are being used; and the possible implications these developments may have on Canada’s privacy regime.

The research report defines wearables and the main reasons why workplaces are interested in adopting them, and describes the market trends fueling this adoption in specific sectors. It also outlines various use cases, device types and sensor capabilities. The report includes examples of how these devices are being used in Canada. An assessment and recommendations section outlines the main issues that the current privacy regimes in Canada (federal and provincial) will need to address as they examine wearables in workplaces, namely the status of the information produced, and assessing workers’ expectations of privacy. The researchers have provided recommendations for policy and decision makers on how to best ensure wearable device implementation in the workplace is compliant with Canadian privacy law going forward.

In the course of the project, the researchers also created an inventory listing of over 420 wearable devices available for workplace applications (at the time of research). The inventory includes details about device type, target sector/user, monitoring capability (information type), marketed capabilities and business purpose, as well as drop-down menus for sorting and frequency counts for quick reference analytics. The researchers also created an infographic illustrating the main findings of the inventory.

Project deliverables are available in the following language(s):


OPC Funded Project

This project received funding support through the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s Contributions Program. The opinions expressed in the summary and report(s) are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Summaries have been provided by the project authors. Please note that the projects appear in their language of origin.

Contact Information

Surveillance Studies Center
Queen’s University
Kingston, Ontario
K7L 3N6

Telephone: 613-533-6000, ext. 78867
FAX: 613-533-6499

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