An Elemental View of Workplace Wearables

Employees who regularly use their hands to build, move or fix things, or to monitor assets, can benefit from wearable technology. But it's important to first understand the full range of technologies that comprise wearables for the workplace.
By Brian Ballard
Sep 23, 2015

Many people may think of wearable technologies, such as smart glasses, smart watches and fitness trackers, primarily as consumer products. But leading companies are already experiencing quantifiable business benefits by equipping employees with wearable technologies in the workplace.

The ecosystem of available wearable technologies is growing fast. IMS Research conservatively estimates that the wearable technology marketplace will grow to $6 billion by 2016, and Gartner Research expects smart glasses to realize $1 billion in annual cost savings in the field services industry alone. However, this rapid growth can make it difficult for enterprise buyers to know where to begin, or which devices are best for their needs.

To help businesses better understand today's wearable technology ecosystem, APX Labs has put together a visualization based on the Periodic Table of Elements. This visualization captures the numerous hardware types, use cases and common capabilities related to wearable technologies. Each element in a color-coded group is related in some important way, just like in the scientific Periodic Table of Elements. However, instead of atomic numbers and chemical properties, we've substituted value propositions and business benefits of the underlying technologies.

Using this table as a starting point, I'll describe below the major elements of wearable technologies that enterprise buyers need to know before evaluating and deploying these devices in their workforce.

Click on the above chart to view a larger version.
Industry Series
Across the bottom row of the table are the industries already using wearable technologies. Such technologies lend themselves especially well to uses in manufacturing, field services and repair, and warehouse and logistics. People who spend their days building, fixing and moving things benefit most from smart glasses and smart watches, which allow workers to access the information, applications and systems they need to do their jobs while staying hands-on with the task in front of them.

The industries listed on the table include automotive, aerospace, telecommunications, utilities and others. Leading companies in these industries, such as Boeing, have already begun publicly sharing success stories on how they're using smart glasses and other wearable technologies within their operations.

The other elements on our periodic table represent capabilities enabled by wearable technologies.

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