The benefits of wearable technology for businesses in 2021

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:

  1. More consumer data.

  2. Increased employee productivity.

  3. 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. 

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 up-selling proposition.

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