Wearable tech gives businesses a competitive edge

Wearable technologies are the next evolutionary step in computing. Businesses are already finding a multitude of ways to profit from them, and the wave is just beginning.

Frederick Taylor would have loved to have been able to monitor the efficiency of workers with wearable sensors. Tesco uses armbands to track how workers are transporting goods in their warehouse. Employees like it because it saves them from having to carry and fill out clipboards of paperwork.

The technologies are not only about efficiency. In the construction industry, sensors can now notice when a backhoe driver's head falls forward or their back slumps. That indicates they're tired or even that they experienced a "microsleep," where they actually did fall asleep for a fractional second. When operating heavy equipment, that's plenty long enough for a mistake that could cost somebody an injury or their life. Therefore, if the continues to work, they're at greater risk of an injury. Some wearables can track such long-term health indicators as rates of breath and heart beats per minutes.

Displaying Hands-Free Data

20 years ago, Boeing began using technology that allowed pilots to see critical information without having to glance down at dials. Now, many technicians from wire assemblers to plumbers can access instructions without having to use their hands to thumb through instruction manuals. Some smartglasses allow the workers to talk one-on-one with a remote expert.

An EEG headband developed by Melon may help knowledge and creative workers by monitoring their brain waves to determine when they are about to have a new idea and to track at what times of day or under what circumstances they are most productive.

Increasing Security

One obvious use of wearable technology is to monitor employee locations. Along with that, it could track visitors to make certain they remain within authorised areas. Employees with authorisation could enter restricted areas with less hassle over identification. It could also keep them away from areas under construction or repair.

Police are wearing technologies to track their activities to better respond to allegations of abuse. One city in California had complaints against police drop by 88 per cent. And police in trouble no longer have to call on their radios or rely on a citizen to call 911 if they're unable to. The military can also track activity as well, to respond more quickly when someone attacks soldiers. Sensors can let firefighters know when they're approaching dangerous levels of heat and gas.

According to Goldsmiths, University of London, these new technologies improve employee satisfaction by 3.5 per cent. That's from a survey taken of 4,000 adults in the United States and the United Kingdom. One out of every three reported that wearable technologies had enhanced their careers.

Netclearance has launched a suite of wearables for the enterprise including the mBeaconSense and the employee mBeaconCard badges that can help monitor employees and visitors. It also works as a way for employees as a way to signal for help during emergencies.

Wearable technologies in business enterprises are here, and are going to become mainstream in the years ahead.

Jonathan Duff, Executive Director EMEA, Netclearance