Wearable tech hasn’t just taken off, it’s become an everyday part of work life. A study by Human Cloud at Work found that those working with wearables increased productivity by 8.5 percent, while their job satisfaction went up by 3.5 percent. And according to a Gartner study, by 2020, 75 million wearables will permeate the workplace.
So what does this mean for an entrepreneur? Why should any entrepreneur use wearable technology? How can you benefit from it in daily business and workflow?
Better Time Management and Communication
The main hook to using a wearable is to make your workflow more efficient. In a study by SalesForce, 20% of companies surveyed were already using wearables for real-time communication, and another 20% for time-management. It makes sense- with a smartwatch, you can screen incoming calls, and read text messages and weather forecasts at a glance. With some smartwatches like the Apple Watch and Samsung Gear, you can even view upcoming events and schedule new ones through voice commands.
These features may not seem innovative, but it saves you having to unlock your smartphone every time you receive a notification, which saves you from other distractions on your smartphone like games and social networks.
Easier Collection and Access to Information
With wearable technology, we can carry and access vast amounts of information, such as text, photos and videos. Companies have used wearable tech to access information since early 2000, when Bell Canada equipped their phone technicians with wrist-worn PCs, saving hours of having to walk back to reference their computers in their trucks. It doesn’t even have to be on your wrist- Schneider Excavating outfitted their surveying teams with voice-activated computers in their belts, as early as 1998, reportedly increasing efficiency by 150%.
If you decide to use wearables in your work environment, be creative in how you can use it to make work easier for you. For example, consider what information you can move from desktops or manual processes to a wearable. For Theatro store clerks, wearables make it easier to check the inventory of a specific product, or check when their next break is without having to leave the customer.
Wearable tech isn’t just making it easier to access data, but to record it too. In this survey from Salesforce, a popular use case is for sales teams on the go to use natural voice dictation to record important information that can be transferred directly to a CRM.
Safer, More Secure Work Environments
Wearables can also provide information in such a way to make certain tasks safer in ways smartphones can’t. For software company, PeopleNet, smartwatch apps presented a unique opportunity to improve the trips that truck drivers take. By using the same vibration technology in a smartphone, wearables could provide truck drivers important information like speed limits and directions without having to take their eyes off the road. Kinetic has developed a wearable that measures and guides certain physical labor tasks, like heavy lifting.
From a security perspective, badges and lanyards with RFID or NFC technology can restrict access to certain locations, like a VIP room or an office with sensitive information. This type of technology is becoming increasingly popular at festivals and universities, as demonstrated by RFID developers, Stark RFID.
From an entrepreneurship perspective, there are other ways to use wearables to create safer environments. In fact, health tracking is the one of the most popular uses for smartwatches in large offices. Zensorium’s Being is one such example, a wearable that monitors stress levels, heart rate sensing, and even sleep activity.
Despite all the progress made with wearable tech, there’s still much to be done. The biggest issue facing the technology right now is privacy. In a Wall Street Journal article, various popular concerns with smartphones were outlined, including biased treatment of employees based on their health metrics. For example, if one employee had less sleep than another, would it be ethical for the boss to favor the better rested employee?
As we continue to learn more about the pitfalls of wearables in the workplace, we’ll also learn of its potential. The Apple Watch is only in its first year, the Samsung Gear in its second year. While Google Glass was unveiled in 2013, it was quickly covered up once again to sort out its web of technical failures.
For many other wearables, they simply have not managed to become staples in the average citizen’s lifestyle, at least not yet. But for entrepreneurs, they present several opportunities to make certain mundane processes like checking your messages or accessing a room safer, easier, and more efficient.