Gartner recently forecasted that global spending on wearable devices would total $81.5 billion in 2021.
The growing focus on health and wellbeing is sure to see the likes of Fitbit and Apple Watches grow, while the latest breakthroughs in retail could rely on a combination of new mobile and wearable technology to track customer behaviour.
Simply – it’s going to be a massive year for wearable technology, in all its forms.
We’ve already looked at some of the benefits of wearable technology in our interview with Apadmi Chief Technology Officer, Adam Fleming – but we’re seeing more and more opportunities within the wearable technology field that may be the key to unlocking the potential within your business.
This is Apadmi’s ultimate guide to wearable technology, and the benefits it can offer your company this year.
What is wearable technology?
Simply put, this term refers to any technology designed to be worn is wearable technology. This includes smartwatches, smart rings, smart glasses, smart clothes and even devices implanted within the user.
The commercialisation of wearable technology started in 2009, with Fitbit launching the Fitbit Tracker – a wireless-enabled device with an internal motion detector that could be clipped onto a user’s clothing to track the user’s movement, sleep patterns and calorie burn.
The benefits and capabilities of wearable technologies are continuously growing. In the last decade, wearable technology has evolved to capture more complex data such as heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels and much more.
While there are many benefits associated with wearable technology, we’ve decided to home in on three key benefits that most businesses can gain from the implementation of the technology:
- More consumer data.
- Increased employee productivity.
- Improved Customer Service.
Benefit #1: Analysing consumer wearable technology data
Due to the nature and heavy adoption of wearable technology, these devices are capable of collecting vast amounts of user data. This data can then be analyzed and used to provide a better customer experience.
For example, smartwatches are capable of monitoring a user’s sleeping pattern and sending the information to a mobile app to be analysed. The app can then provide personalised tips on how to improve the user’s sleep, or suggest to the marketing team the best time to target the user with messaging.
Security considerations for businesses and wearable technology
As we discussed in our ethical data capture post, security and privacy are of paramount importance when it comes to building consumer trust. Wearable technology introduces new security considerations for businesses looking to introduce the technology into their companies:
- The ability to capture sensitive photos, videos or audio – Due to the enhancement in hardware capabilities available to wearable technology, many discreet wearable devices can record high-quality video, audio or take pictures, which could be used to obtain copies of confidential information, or record videos of sensitive areas. Google Glass is a notable and controversial example of wearable technology raising security and privacy concerns; in response, Google stopped production of the smart glasses in 2015, but released an updated version of the product two years later with a focus on targeting enterprise use cases. They called this product Google Glass Enterprise Edition.
- Lack of encryption – Many wearable devices lack encryption for either the data stored locally on the device, or data being transferred over a network. Unencrypted data is vulnerable to attack or theft, and can be detrimental to a company’s reputation and even its customers. With that in mind, it’s advised that additional security measures should be considered when introducing wearable technology into a business – for example, limiting the data/functionality these devices have access to. This ensures that your business can enjoy the benefits of wearable technology, without putting sensitive data at risk.
Benefit #2: Wearable technology and employee productivity
In the past decade, wearable technology has evolved beyond fitness trackers.
Due to a combination of low costs and easy connectivity, wearable devices have become a vital tool in monitoring and analysing consumer and employee behaviour to improve business processes.
A study led by researchers from the University of London in 2014, found that fitting employees with wearable technology can boost their productivity by up to 8.5%. There are a few ways in which connected devices achieve this:
- Improved communication and reduced distraction – Smartwatches provide a fast and easily accessible way to view notifications. At a glance, a user can view their schedule or gather essential information. On top of that, these devices can be configured to block non-work-related notifications, so workers aren’t distracted by other push notifications.
- It boosts efficiency and speed – Many wearable devices come with inbuilt features to help user’s complete their daily tasks. The most notable of these features is the ability to complete tasks using voice commands, allowing the user to perform many of them hands-free, from dictating emails and setting reminders to triggering business-specific processes.
Wearable technology and employee wellness
Many employers have chosen to use wearable technologies, such as fitness bands and smartwatches, to enrich their wellness initiatives.
Wearable technology helps monitor vital signs and can provide medical notifications to both the employee and employers. The monitoring of health activity even allows employers to provide employees with incentives for reaching health goals.
Workplaces with healthy, happy employees typically result in more production, engagement and employees taking fewer sick days, leading to greater business success.
Wearable technology and employee safety
In all workplaces, employee safety is of the utmost importance – but wearable technology can enhance it even further in a few ways.
One example comes from SmartCap Technologies, who provide a range of products that look like regular caps and hats, but which contain sensors that monitor a user’s fatigue. These wearables are especially useful for truck drivers who are at risk of causing injury if driving while tired. The information gathered from these devices can be monitored and send alarms to both the driver and a member of staff who’s monitoring them, to let them know that the driver is becoming fatigued.
Another example is its ability to provide its users with a discreet and fast way to send distress messages to a pre-set list of contacts in the event of crisis or danger. This application of wearable technology can be particularly useful for workers who require independence, such as couriers or hotel cleaning staff.
Benefit #3: How wearable technology can boost customer service
Companies can leverage the advantages of wearable technology to improve their customer service proposition. Many companies are integrating wearables into their business processes to increase both customer engagement and experience.
Audi is a great example, using virtual reality headsets to make the car buying experience more engaging and immersive for its customers. At a limited number of its dealerships, Audi allows customers to put on a virtual reality headset to visualise cars in several different virtual landscapes. Through the headset, the customer can experience the vehicle’s features and customisation options, improving the dealer’s upselling proposition.
Another company utilising the power of wearable technology is HSBC. They’ve teamed up with Samsung to bring smartwatches into their branches to be used by their employees. This enables the branch employees to streamline their communication, provide more efficient customer service, and assist the branch manager in tracking overall bank operations across the branch.
The smartwatches can be configured to have a list of predetermined text messages that let employees quickly communicate about common customer interactions. These template messages can include phrases such as “Your 9 a.m. appointment is here”. Streamlined communication like this results in customers being dealt with quicker, improving overall customer satisfaction.
Wearable technology provides a huge benefit to business owners, as having such valuable data connected to the cloud allows them to react quickly to events happening in any of their branches which can result in smoother, more refined operations and promotions.
What business sectors will benefit from wearable technology?
With its numerous applications, wearable technology is changing the way we work.
Across all industries, wearable technology can provide a means to increase efficiency, productivity and safety. Here are a few of our favourite examples of the impact wearable technology is having in various sectors:
- Manufacturing – Introducing wearable technology into a manufacturing environment has proven to boost efficiency in the workplace. Big companies like General Electronics have adopted wearable technology in the form of smart glasses to increase worker productivity. General Electric uses Google Glass’ Augmented Reality (AR) capabilities to show workers instructional videos, animations and pictures. This increases worker productivity by eliminating the need to stop work to check their computers, or their paper-based manuals to search and identify solutions to the challenges they may face.
- Logistics – DHL Supply Chain is one of the world’s largest logistics companies, with an annual revenue of $15 billion. DHL began testing the use of smart glasses in their warehouse in early 2015. The use of AR glasses within its warehouses is driving increases in accuracy, productivity and efficiency in the parcel-picking process. The user-friendly and intuitive interface, along with hands-free picking, is providing a positive experience and high approval ratings amongst employees. DHL Supply Chain’s initial trial of smart glasses resulted in an increase in productivity by 15%, while halving onboarding and training times. The successful use of smart glasses is also making DHL consider using wearable technology in other aspects of their business.
- Healthcare – In the beginning, wearable technology was primarily used for health tracking. As the technology advances, the devices can capture more health metrics about the user. The growing use of these health trackers influenced the healthcare industry, including insurance providers to develop and encourage the use of wearable health trackers. Remote patient monitoring is one of the biggest advantages of introducing wearable technology into the healthcare sector. The ability to monitor a user’s health via a smartwatch, fitness tracker, smart patch and many more wearable devices, allows healthcare professionals to save the time and costs associated with traditional patient monitoring methods. Vitality Health recently introduced an incentive where a smartwatch would be supplied to their customer for the purpose of monitoring health. Rewards would be issued to customers who reach health targets, such as hitting a daily step count, doing exercises and conducting medical checks.
How wearable technology connects to IoT
Having an internet-enabled wearable device creates an easier, more accessible way for users to connect to the Internet of Things (IoT). The capabilities of IoT devices vary widely, so this gives wearable technology the ability to be used for much more than just fitness tracking and collecting data. Many everyday problems can be solved by combining wearable technology with IoT devices.
Smart homes are a great example of how many different IoT devices can be connected to make it’s user’s everyday life more efficient.
August Smart Lock Pro is an IoT device that can be used to replace an existing door lock. The lock can be controlled via the internet, smartphones and other smart devices. The lock can be paired to a smartphone and a smartwatch, which can then be used to open and close the lock when the user enters/leaves the area – essentially providing keyless entry into your home.
Our top wearable technology examples in business for 2021
We’ve been keeping an eye out for new wearable technology in 2021 and a few things have caught our attention:
- Google Glass Enterprise edition – Google glass has to be at the top of the list for wearable devices in 2021. Its many applications across multiple industries make it a market leader in the smart glasses market. Huge companies such as DHL, Boeing, General Electronics and many more have started to leverage the use of wearable technology to increase efficiency and productivity. It’s predicted 14.4 million American workers will be using smart glasses by 2025.
- Apple Smart Watch – The Apple Watch has become a popular wearable technology due to its intuitive interface and interoperability. Smartwatches have made their way into various companies to improve efficiency, productivity and customer service. Their fitness tracking capabilities allow for employers to monitor and incentivise employee health, which in turn leads to an increase in employee satisfaction and productivity.
- Microsoft Mesh – A recent innovation from Microsoft, this focuses on post-Covid collaboration through a combination of AR and VR running on the latest generation of Hololens. Microsoft Mesh looks set to bring cutting edge AR experiences into the mainstream, popularising wearable technology further in the coming years.
The power of wearable technology is just starting to become clear and some of the winners in the next decade will be those businesses that champion it. If you think wearable technology could help drive success within your business and want to further discuss the options available to you, contact us below.