How wearable technology is changing the workplace
October 29, 2015
You'd be forgiven for thinking that wearables in the workplace is a recent occurrence but early adopters have been utilising the tech for over 20 years. Some of the first applications included belt- and wrist-mounted PCs for remote workers enabling more efficient working, and eventually devices became smaller, thinner and focused on wearer safety.
In 2004, one of the UK's largest supermarkets took up the wearables mantle, and began to utilise first-gen devices across hundreds of its stores. In its distribution centres, wearables tracked the speed and accuracy of employees collecting products off shelves, and in-store, the supermarket saw efficiency gains which led to a reduction in staff numbers.
Only a couple of years later, the first fitness device was born - a partnership between top sports brand and top tech brand which subsequently led to a rise in the use of wearables by professional athletes; coaches and officials were suddenly able to monitor athletes' physiology of performance, whether it be heart rate, speed or impact of a fall/collision.
Consumer-driven devices verses enterprise adoption
By 2024, IDTechEx predicts the wearable market will be worth $50billion. Market watchers tend to agree that the enterprise sector will be one of the largest consumer groups as more employers begin to see the benefits of wearables for productivity and efficiency improvements.
Consumers have seen how useful fitness wearables have been to track weight loss for example, but we're still waiting for the 'iPhone' moment - when your wearable device becomes invaluable. However, wearables offer solutions to specific workplace problems.
Smartglasses will soon be designed to display a patient's vital signs to the doctor while performing surgery, removing the need for the surgeon to look away from the procedure. On construction hands-free wearables will be able to provide workers with location and safety alerts, taking into account their location and the environment. Many of these, and future applications of wearables will require discreet sensors, that will not only assess the wearer's cognitive patterns, vitals or posture, but also prove to be robust and user-friendly.
Today, many of us are already using wearables, and we're bringing them into the workplace. Let us know whether you believe wearables are the future of the workplace and where you think this tech will add most value - firstname.lastname@example.org.