Wearables about to kick in for business

Smartwatches and smart glasses for workers proffer benefits, like virtual help. But will the worker go along with the perceived associated tracking?

Virgin Atlantic, the long-haul airline said recently that it would be providing smart glasses.
Credit: Sony

Apple’s wristwatch, the Fitbit wrist-band exercise tracker and even Google’s Project Jacquard, a conductive yarn, are possibly red herrings when it comes to wearable as a genre.

Some are arguing that consumer-focused gadgets are not where wearable is going to excel.

Indeed, counting stairs climbed, or a nagging wrist-watch-based notification that your eggs are cooked are trivial in comparison to a smart-glasses bespectacled health-care worker consulting with a remotely-located physician, for example.

And it’s in these kinds of applications that wearable will likely prove itself as a technology, not in consumer-oriented gizmos, some are speculating.

Smart glasses

Virgin Atlantic, the long-haul airline said recently that it would be providing smart glasses and smartwatches for its on-site engineers so that they can live video-stream engineering issues to a control center, and get work updates.

They will be using Sony’s Smartwatch 3, and SmartEyeglass Developer Edition SED-E1 device, along with a smartphone or tablet, according to a Sony blog post.

Sony reckons this will speed up technical assistance for the engineers working on planes.

Instant expertise

“Any sort of job that requires a high level of technical expertise, or some sort of remote feedback or support, would benefit from wearable technology,” says Rob Chamberlin of Dataxoom.

He was quoted by Kate Jay writing in Verizon Wireless News about business-oriented wearables.

Dataxoom is a mobile network reseller specializing in enterprise mobile data service for wearables.

Any machinist who works on a “highly complex industrial machine, would be a candidate for wearables,” Chamberlin told Jay.

 

Dexterity

Freeing up workers’ hands is another benefit, Steve Richey, a developer at Float Mobile Learning told Jay for her article. Wearables could “replace handheld devices,” Richey says.

Float creates mobile training apps for enterprises and is bullish on wearables as a medium for delivering its content.

What do workers think?

However, it may not be a slam dunk. One slight hiccup in the entire business-oriented wearable future is the bothersome matter of what the employees might think.

Trust was a sticking point in a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey.

Resistance to sharing data with employers, partly because workers think that the data will be used against them “in some way,” was indicated in the survey. A massive 41 percent of survey respondents said they were worried about that.

Tracking workers?

The survey found that many workers thought employers would not use the data for the workers’ benefit if enterprise supplied the wearable devices, like smartwatches.

I wrote about that survey’s findings in a Network World Disrupter blog post in April, 2015, entitled “Employees will only embrace smartwatches if they improve work environment.”

Are you working?

Giving employees wearables could let enterprises “better understand their workforce and tailor working patterns, benefits and office life to their individual needs,” Anthony Bruce, a people analytics expert at PwC, said of the report in a blog post at the time.

Which workers could interpret to mean “understand whether they’re working or not.”

Rose-tinted smart glasses

Jay looks at things a bit more optimistically than me in her Verizon News article. She mentions another PWC statistic which says 77 percent of workers believe an important benefit of wearable technology is “its potential to make us more efficient and more productive at work.”

An example of rose-tinted smart glasses, maybe?

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