Wearable technology: will it change your business in 2015?

By Nicole Miskelly | 11 December 2014

The Financial Times (FT) reports that smart devices are the fastest-growing element of the Internet of Things, where everyday objects are linked to the internet to collect and receive information from other connected devices and web services.

Apple launched Watchkit last month, the software development tool for the Apple Watch and according to Philip Schiller (senior vice-president of worldwide marketing, Apple) Watchkit will enable developers to build apps that can be used by Apple Watch wearers to find the latest flight information on their way to the airport or make alternative plans if their train or bus is late and turn off their house lights after they have left home. Instagram and American Airlines have already built an Apple Watch app in anticipation for the launch in early 2015.

Gartner predicts that the number of interconnected items (excluding tablets, smartphones and PCs) are set to rise from 900m recorded in 2009 to 26bn in 2020. Existing wearables include the Google Glass headset and fitness wristband such as FitBit but according the FT, home appliances, apps for in-car “infotainment” systems and healthcare monitors are also being developed.

The current wearable tech available enables people to manage aspects of their lifestyle but what about their work lives? In a Forbes report, Samsung said that recent innovations in mobile technology promises to make field workers as insightful and connected as those in the boardroom. Field workers in particular can benefit from wearable devices which enable those on the front line to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.

Samsung recently announced their collaboration with SAP to deliver enterprise mobility solutions for a number of industries and aims to equip field workers with a universal mobile application platform. The collaboration is intended to provide enterprise applications to the extended workforce and to help provide businesses with shorter time to market, quicker access to revenue streams and improved real-time decision support to executives and the workforce. According to Samsung, the collaboration also creates an open-source platform for developers to build new enterprise mobile applications using Samsung device features such as multitasking, voice and gesture controls.

Samsung said that the areas of retail, financial services, oil and gas and healthcare, workplace mobility and connectivity could present the greatest opportunities for wearable technology. Within retail, the integration of retail applications on wearables and mobile devices could provide immediate access to inventory and allow employees to access customer data, product information and process mobile payments on the retail floor. Oil and Gas workers require the ability to analyse risks within hazardous environments, wearables create a hands-free user experience and can allow workers to receive information and respond quickly to urgent safety issues.  Within financial services at the moment, mobile banking features and enhancing the customer experience are top priorities. Smarter mobile banking solutions could offer user-friendly and secure experience for banking and insurance customers. Devices, applications and customised mobile applications could also help to manage health information and data more effectively, a trend which has been predicted to be big in heathcare in 2015.

According to Forrester research, 45 per cent of US consumers can see themselves wearing smart computers compared to 32 per cent in Europe. The report which is set to be published next week, predicts that the number of people using a wearable device will triple in 2015 and the biggest driver of demand is coming from businesses who want to supply employees with these devices. 68 per cent of the business-decision makers polled said that developing a wearables strategy for their business is now a priority. Researchers said to look out for wearables that monitor the safety of field workers and location-aware smart watches which enable managers to locate shift workers.

By Nicole Miskelly, bobsguide Lead Journalist 

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