While morning show hosts and millennial blogs tend to focus attention on the 'fun' and 'glitzy' examples of wearable tech, like fitness trackers and smart watches, the bigger impact of this shift is how technology gets utilized in the workplace. That's because while many of today's so-called 'innovative' new products require the defining of new problems they then solve, wearable work technologies much more frequently bring solutions to problems that have plagued industries for decades.
Working Safer and Smarter with Hands-free Devices
Take for instance the proliferation of wearable cameras. Many Americans are already aware of the tense debate regarding the implementation of vest cameras on all law enforcement personnel, and the subsequent review and release of their footage for accountability purposes, but this isn't the only industry seeking such camera tech.
Most technician and construction jobs require employees to use both hands to fix sensitive, sometimes dangerous, equipment. Head or vest-mounted cameras are the ideal solution for those working in the field who need to send streaming video to the office for advice or review as they work. This is expected to become such an essential piece of work equipment that industry experts project annual head-mounted sales will leap up to 40 million units by the year 2020.
Another excellent example of wearable technology geared towards safety is the SmartCap. The SmartCap is a removable sensor that can be applied to any type of headgear, including a standard baseball-style cap, headband, or beanie. When in contact with the user's head, the sensor is capable of reading and processing electrical brain activity to determine their level of alertness. Should the user's alertness fall, the operator is alerted with an alarm so they can take proactive steps to reduce their fatigue, whether it's moving to a different task or taking a break.
Such a sensor has already proven to be a huge boon for several big truck driving companies who found fatigue was a primary factor in accidents involving heavy equipment.
Improving Productivity and Enhancing Customer Service
In the retail industry, new voice-activated clip-on computers have marked the end of the walkie talkie. The Dallas company Theatro is leading this charge with its exciting Wearable Computer, designed specifically for the dynamic needs of brick and mortar retailers.
This tiny 1.25 oz clip-on allows all employees to connect via a WiFi infrastructure and use unique voice commands to access a variety of device applications. This allows employees to stay connected with each other and store information , such as replaying a recorded version of the morning status meeting. The device is even capable of utilizing Wi-Fi triangulation to locate unique users within the network. So if one staffer requests, "Where is Mike?", the system can find the user and respond, "Mike is behind the front counter."
As an added bonus, all of these actions can be done without diverting attention from customers.
What other wearable tech pieces do you think would be helpful in the workplace? Let us know on our Facebook page.