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

Hardware Series
The second row from the bottom represents wearable devices available on the market today—smart glasses, smart watches and some peripherals. Not every device is well suited to every job function or business need. For example, smart watches are an excellent tool for workers who need to quickly glance at alerts, messages or task lists while performing hands-on work. Smart glasses are better suited for in-view access to detailed instructions or remote guidance from colleagues through the "See What I See" video collaboration function. By considering the use case, the job function and each device's unique attributes, businesses can determine which wearable technology is right for which job.

Communications Series
In the column on the left side of the table, the Communications Series describes different high-level concept requirements to enable real-time collaboration. This includes the ability to access expert help via video collaboration, telestration, audio calling, screen capture and more.

"See What I See" occupies hydrogen's spot on the table because that is the most common element, and video collaboration and remote guidance capability are the most requested smart glasses functionalities. In any industry, complex technical tasks are solved faster and with less re-work when two individuals can look at a problem together and collaborate in real time. By enabling this ability, See What I See improves the quality of work and can also allow lower-skilled or new employees to carry out high-skilled work with a little coaching from remote experts or more experienced employees. In addition, the technology reduces costs by allowing a business to use real-time, point-of-view video feeds rather than having to fly an expert from one location to another.

Document and Share Series
Moving to the right, the Document and Share elements demonstrate businesses' needs to capture, transmit and interact with key media. These capabilities include video and audio capture, high-resolution image capture, time-lapse images, and bar-code or QR code scanning.

Platform Group
Occupying the middle of the table, the Platform Group lists common examples of wearable technologies deployed in an enterprise setting to integrate with existing applications and technologies, such as those from SAP, Microsoft, Salesforce.

The elements in this group, such as Web-based application programming interfaces, machine learning and encryption, represent the minimum requirements that any wearable technology must support in order to be deployable within most Fortune 500 companies. Enterprise buyers can save themselves a lot of time and trouble during the integration process if they ask wearable technology vendors about the items in the Platform Group up front. An enterprise-wide software platform that extends across all wearable devices and is designed to easily integrate with the elements in the Platform Group can also help make this process easier.

Data Feed Series
Continuing across the table, the Data Feed Series addresses wearable technologies' ability to work with the continuously evolving landscape of data and sensor feeds generated by the numerous connected devices and systems comprising today's Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). These include the ability to provide real-time graphing and progress bars, visualize markers and calculate distances, make use of location tracking functions and more.

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