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Oz insurer offers Basis breathing-bangle-for-your-data swap

Wrist recorder reads your weight, tells the cloud

An Australian insurance company has jumped on the fitness-tracker bandwagon, and is going to give away Intel Basis walk-snitches to anyone who wants a discount for populating its databases.

It's probably a handy fillip for Intel, which bought Basis Science last year in a bid to create a presence in the wearables market. So far, it hasn't managed to rise out of the ocean of “other” vendors in IDC's data on the wearables market.

Chipzilla's fitness and sleep tracker will be tested on 1,500 MLC Insurance customers, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The data will be sent upstream to US startup Big Cloud Analytics to get a sprinkling of fairy dust and SQL queries, so MLC can see whether users' health has improved over 90 to 160 days wearing the trackers. Those whose health improves will get an offer of health insurance discounts.

Intel Basis can connect to iOS and Android apps (what could possibly go wrong?), and so far has escaped the kind of hacker attention given to more established wrist-jobs like Fitbit.

Electronic Frontiers Australia told The Australian there's not much of a gap between offering something for free and making it compulsory.

Vulture South is just as interested in the security and privacy angles. History suggests wearables and smartphones in combination offer plenty of attack vectors, and it's probably only Intel's trivial presence in the market that has protected Basis from the attentions of black, grey and white hats.

The move will doubtless also spark a political debate in Australia. Its health insurance system is based on a concept called "community rating", with premiums aggregated over large numbers of people. This is partly designed to make sure that everybody can afford private health insurance, as part of a system that imperfectly tries to ensure universal access to doctors and hospitals. ®

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