The Chinese military says wearables could reveal secrets

Location and health info could put soldiers at risk
Wareable is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Smartwatches and wearables might not be enjoying smartphone sales yet but they're already running into the same problems. We've seen smartwatches banned in exam halls to minimise cheating and calls for a ban for drivers to avoid distractions.

Now China's military, in its People's Liberation Army Daily, has warned of the dangers of its soldiers using connected wearables.

Read this: Gangnam Style - why wearable tech is about to explode in Asia

The PLA stopped just short of banning wearables (watches, fitness trackers, smartglasses) amongst the military but did warn against using devices that can transmit personal data such as health conditions or allow an individual to be tracked based on information on location and movements if accessed by hackers.

"The moment a soldier puts on a device that can record high-definition audio and video, take photos, and process and transmit data," it stated, "it's very possible for him or her to be tracked or to reveal military secrets."

No particular brands or devices were alluded to in the publication though the success of Xiaomi's Mi Band in China and Taiwan and the recent launch of the Apple Watch could explain the timing of the warning.

It also makes clear that wearables must have specific functionality to be deemed potentially dangerous.

"The use of wearables with internet access, location information, and voice calling functions," it said, "should be considered a violation of national security provisions when used by military personnel."

Elsewhere in China, a $27 smartband which handles transport payments, health tracking and in-store discounts is set to be rolled out in 400 cities across the country. Before long, the military in China and around the world could have one wearable for work and one for play.

How we test


Sophie was Wareable's associate editor. She joined the team from Stuff magazine where she was an in-house reviewer. For three and a half years, she tested every smartphone, tablet, and robot vacuum that mattered. 

A fan of thoughtful design, innovative apps, and that Spike Jonze film, she is currently wondering how many fitness tracker reviews it will take to get her fit. Current bet: 19.

Sophie has also written for a host of sites, including Metro, the Evening Standard, the Times, the Telegraph, Little White Lies, the Press Association and the Debrief.

She now works for Wired.

Related stories