Just as smartphone usage has evolved from phone calls and emails to being an essential part of an employee’s work life, wearables such as smartwatches are also continuing to enable employees to be more productive, efficient and safe. Wearables are projected to be a $60 billion part of our workforce by 2022, and usage is steadily increasing as devices grow their capabilities and employees are more comfortable using the technology.
In the sci-fi world of the future, employees are often replaced by robots and made obsolete in various scary scenarios. In reality, wearables can actually make employees more indispensable. In fields such as construction and manufacturing, wearables can enhance employees abilities as well as keep them safe. As the workforce ages and jobs become increasingly complex, wearables can amplify hearing, sight and strength and sound alarms if anything is amiss. Headsets, augmented reality (AR) and exoskeletons mean humans can basically have superpowered senses while working.
Another safety and productivity benefit is being able to track and work with employees at any time. Through wearable tech, employee locations can be easily pinpointed in the event of a disaster or other unexpected event. Sales calls and time can be logged and monitored. Research shows a 10% increase in workplace productivity when wearables are implemented. Studies also show that goals are much more readily reached both when written down and when shared, creating accountability and community.
Wearables seem to work best when utilized in task-specific ways. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) give architects and interior designers the incredible ability to create detailed simulations of projects for clients and that surgeons can perform operations even more accurately. Wearables have also proven beneficial in improving quality of life for the chronically ill via VR and for police, security and military forces using body cams.
Office applications for wearables are also increasing and creating benefits for employees who work for the same company at different locations. Office headsets for meetings, for example, can make it seem like you are at the meeting rather than hunching over a conference room speaker. Virtual assistants keep everyone on task, translation devices ease and even erase communication barriers, and you can even improve your posture with a posture tracker. Smart suits, jackets and caps are also in the works.
Another benefit of using wearables at work is simply overall employee health. Step counters and programs to incentivize their usage promote positive lifestyle changes. Fitbit reported 1.6 billion in revenue in 2017 alone and Fitbit users take 43 percent more steps than non-users. This promotion is one of the most powerful pros to workplace wearables, as it is key to prevention of health issues and general employee wellbeing.
Given the general increase in adoption and overall benefits of wearables in the workplace, it stands to reason that more innovation and ease of use will mean these devices become more commonplace over time. And since they collect data, the real-time feedback they provide allows changes and adjustments can be made and pushed out quickly. All of which means that fitbit or smartwatch you already rely on is only just the beginning.
As the holidays approach, it’s not just mistletoe, snow, and eggnog on people’s mind — it’s the anxiety-inducing prospect of gift-giving. What should you buy? What should you ask for? Socks, again? Or something more exciting? Whether you’re a confident shopper or not, it can be difficult to come up with good ideas year after year.
New technology can make a superb gift both to wrap and unwrap, but it can also be risky. Tech advances fairly rapidly, meaning most products have a shelf life that often ends with the next big upgrade. But if you’re constantly waiting for the “best” tech product, you’ll be waiting forever.
This seems to be the case with wearable technology. People sit around waiting for smartwatches to get smarter and end up missing out on all the great things they have to offer.
Maybe this is the year to embrace wearable technology, or maybe it’s not. Whatever the case, I submit to you several ideas that I think would make great gifts this holiday season.
With the New Year comes new goals, of which fitness is often one. FitBits make great gifts for close family members or loved ones that have expressed an interest. The newest versions are even better than the last: the FitBit Charge 2 now includes cardio monitoring and guided breathing; the Flex 2 is now smaller, more stylish, and water-resistant.
Samsung Gear is less about fitness than it is style and efficiency. The release date and pricing have not been released yet, but it will likely hit the shelves before the holiday. The S3 will be the first device to connect to high-speed LTE networks from its carrier. With the look of a luxury watch and the function of a cellular companion, word has it the watch will have a four-day battery life compared to the Apple Watch 2’s 18 hours.
Transitioning from the wrist to the head, one can’t talk about wearable technology anymore without mention of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Sony’s PlayStation VR, released on October 31, has a 5.7” display and a 100-degree field of vision.
On to AR, the Microsoft Hololens has been the talk of the tech world for some time now, but has yet to become commercially available. That all could change between now and the end of the year. The HoloLens overlays “holograms” onto your field of vision and lets you interact by tracking your head and hand movements.
These are just a few of the up-and-coming wearables in the tech world. In my opinion, a high-tech holiday season is a happy one. And if you can’t have a white Christmas, you might as well have a wearable one.
Pokemon GO has swept the globe in recent weeks, leading otherwise sane adults to injure themselves, ignore safety precautions in their surroundings, and shirk grown up responsibilities in favor of chasing and capturing a bunch of virtual monsters on their smart phones.
What’s the secret formula behind Nintendo and Pokemon Inc.’s insanely successful mobile app? More importantly, what can this addictive game tell us about the future of computing?
By now you know the goal is to catch ‘em all, but what’s more interesting about the Pokemon GO phenomenon is how the game utilizes augmented reality. By using your phone’s GPS to place you inside the game, Pokemon GO blends the real world with an augmented one full of cute little creatures to capture.
This is the first time augmented reality (AR) has found success on such a large scale, and it signals the huge surge we’ll soon see in AR technology. Unlike virtual reality, which transports users to an entirely fictional world, AR seeks to blend elements of the real world with a virtual one, creating a dreamlike landscape.
With startups like Magic Leap already bringing in huge rounds of funding for technology they haven’t even revealed yet, it’s clear that the future of tech resides in these mixed media spaces. Instead of passively consuming information, as we mostly do today on the internet, AR allows us to have compelling immersive experiences. Pokemon GO is bringing people together in a way that video games and smartphones rarely, if ever, do.
So how can we account for the runaway success of augmented over virtual reality technology? For one thing, AR doesn’t require expensive equipment or additional technology, as VR does with its headsets. We have all the technology we need for AR with a GPS-enabled smartphone. The overnight success of Pokemon GO will inspire a whole new crop of VR apps. Beyond games, we can expect to see this technology take off in the health, entertainment, and even political spheres. Essentially, all the ways in which we use our smartphones on a daily basis are ripe for a VR makeover.
Perhaps it’s fitting that a cult favorite game from the nineties has resurfaced to lead the way into the AR future. After all, augmented reality tech has been around since the late 1960s, when the first head-mounted augmented reality system was created by Ivan Sutherland to show computer generated images. By the early 90s, the Air Force was using AR to allow the military to remotely control machinery. By 1998, the 1st & Ten technology changed the way we view football. From there, AR made its way more fully into the entertainment industry in a variety of media forms.
From Pokemon GO to Magic Leap, we can safely assume that augmented reality is not only here to stay, but that it will continue to revolutionize the way we interact with the world around us. Here’s to witnessing the dawn of an immersive future!