By Jacquie Pirnie - January 26, 2015
Tags: business tech, employee tech, enterprise tech, wearables
While Google Glass and FitBit are widely recognized by the public, it seems wearables may gain an initial foothold in the business realm. Specifically in the area of industrial processing and high-tech mechanical engineering, wearable technology can create a smarter and safer factory floor. Toshiba engineers already use augmented reality apps for repairing machines.
With the public sale of Google Glass in 2014, you can expect businesses to get creative on how they can use wearables to maximize productivity in the workplace.
Wearable electronics are nothing new. After all, wristwatches and hearing aids are the same as the emerging technology that is generating so many headlines minus the connectivity, of course.
Providing technological interactivity to things we wear is the huge step. The most noteworthy devices so far are networked glasses, and the biggest player is Google and its Google Glass. But the category is set to explode: Juniper Research predicts that 130 million wearable devices will be deployed by 2018. However, this figure might be conservative, as companies show plenty of intriguing possibilities and applications for their gadgets.
The Juniper report notes that there are a number of social and legal barriers to the deployment of wearable devices. However, not all of these hurdles will apply to every device, or indeed, every kind of device. Issues such as privacy commonly arise if the wearable device such as smart glasses has a camera and gives the appearance of filming at all times. In the case of healthcare wearables, the most relevant issue is the storage of confidential and personal vital health information by these devices.
By creating a cogent strategy for protecting employee information while simultaneously securing corporate data, enterprise wearables can enhance operations without weakening IT infrastructure. The key to success for wearables in the enterprise will hang on the balance between Big Brother type monitoring and legitimate employee value.
As more wearable products are rolled out, Juniper expects that governments will in turn seek to develop regulatory frameworks to legislate their use, both from a privacy and data protection perspective.
Google Glass is just the tip of the iceberg. Where there is opportunity, a million smart entrepreneurs will follow. Glasses have become almost standard. Wearable bands like FitBit now track workouts and keep track of patients. Other devices on the horizon include smart wigs and even smart tattoos.
Business users will increasingly demand access to greater volumes of data on wearable devices, such as databases, designs and diagrams, and other data-intensive documents.
Therefore, it looks very much that wearable technology might gain some ground if the right use cases present themselves. But these use cases are still thin on the ground at present, so mass adoption of such technology may be in the not too distant future for business.
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