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.
Virtual reality technology is slowly seeping into several industries, including marketing and casino gaming and even travel, as companies realize the power of virtual experiences. Now, we’re seeing virtual reality technology making waves in the fitness industry with the introduction of a full-body fitness program that aims to help players improve their fitness level without having to set foot in a gym.
Ryan DeLuca of Boise, Indiana, retired from Bodybuilding.com and then teamed up with tech designer Preston Lewis to launch a new company centered on fitness: Black Box.
Black Box creates a full-body workout program customized for the user and allows players to complete their challenges online with others from their home or office. Workouts are completed entirely in virtual reality so a gym membership becomes obsolete.
The creators of Black Box are currently testing the concept and experience in their office, working through all the drill sequences and developing a scoring system. It’s been coined, ‘the gym of the future’ and could very well lead a new generation of gym experiences that give users a chance to completely immerse themselves in a fitness experience while getting in shape.
The game is designed as an adventure or mission so it doesn’t feel like you are working out. According to Black Box VR, “You aren’t working out. You are saving a city. Or solving a mystery. Or finding the treasure….Functional fitness in a fictional world.”
The company has developed three 40-minute exercise routines with different scenarios and have integrated props, such as electronic cable systems, for resistance training into the game. The app that goes along with the game keeps track of performance and all the details of the workout so the user can make adjustments and set goals.
Black Box is getting ready to revolutionize the fitness industry with a no-gym-required workout program. It could very well be paving the way to the future of fitness where simulating movement in a fictional world is just as effective — and maybe even more so — than lifting a dumbbell or running on a treadmill at the local gym.
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.