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Embracing the possibilities but not the risks of new tech

18 May 15

While many people can consider using a prosthetic limb produced by a 3D printer, many would turn away any 3D printed food. A majority of people also think wearables and drones should be used in the office, but say businesses should ensure employees are protected from risk.

These findings are from a survey sponsored by Chubb Group of Insurance Companies which looks at consumers and businesses and the perceived risks posed by new technologies.

"In general, consumers think businesses are doing a good job protecting their customers and employees from injury or harm - except when it comes to protecting their financial and personal information," says Steven Hernandez, Chubb worldwide loss control manager.

"Consumers also are embracing many of the products and services being developed through new technologies, but they clearly are concerned about how companies are managing the emerging risks of such innovation," he says.

3D printing

Many survey respondents were extremely or very concerned about the safety of materials used to manufacture 3D printed products (63%) and the durability and performance of those products (54%).

Nevertheless, they were willing to consider using 3D printed items, including: a prosthetic limb, such as an arm, leg or hand (77%), shoes or clothing (64%), an automotive part (58%) and a house (51%). Only 23% would eat 3D printed food, and 8% would not use any 3D printed item.


Of those surveyed, 59% would always or often permit drones to inspect utilities, facilities or property in remote areas.

Only 48% would always or often permit them to take aerial pictures of property, 42% to fly a banner advertisement in a public space, 37% to deliver a package to a customer's home or business, and 22% to follow and record employee activities during work hours.

Most respondents wanted companies to provide drone operators or employees with safety training (92%), ensure the data or images captured do not violate an individual's privacy rights (88%), and notify and obtain written consent from businesses and individuals subjected to surveillance or fly over (83%).


Nearly half (49%) said that employees should be able to always or often use their own personal wearable device while engaged in construction, utility or work-related physical activity.

They were less likely to approve the use of personal wearable technology on the manufacturing floor (41%), in corporate strategy meetings (39%), while driving for business purposes (39%), when meeting with clients (34%) or during a job interview or a performance review (25%).

Protecting from harm

Most respondents believed that businesses protect office (76%), manufacturing (64%) and retail workers (63%) from injury or harm extremely or very well.

Retailers were thought to be doing the poorest job of protecting consumers' financial and other personal information. Over half (58%) of respondents said they were not very well or not at all well protecting the information, compared to 37% for financial institutions and 36% for health care organisations.  

Chubb's 2015 Consumer Perceptions of Business Risk Survey was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, an independent public opinion and market research firm, in mid-March 2015.

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