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

Dashboard and Collaboration; Alert and Message
Next, the Dashboard and Collaboration and the Alert and Message groups represent the capabilities required for interfacing with teams, system alerts, IIoT-based triggers and the back-end reporting for these interactions. These are surprisingly simple features, such as text messaging and status icons, that unlock tremendous capabilities for businesses that want to embrace a truly connected workforce in which team members can quickly interact with the people and systems around them, without having to find a terminal. Many of these features are also well-suited to smart watches and mobile applications.

Navigation Series
The Navigation Series groups together many of the component requirements that allow businesses to take advantage of the ways in which wearable devices bridge the physical and digital worlds. Devices like the Microsoft HoloLens are pushing the boundaries of how users understand where they are in local space, and just about every wearable technology in the Hardware Series benefits from capabilities like geofencing and Bluetooth beacon-based proximity sensing in industrial environments.

Work and Help Series
Lastly, the Work and Help Series contains the elements that end users need to get their jobs done effectively. These include individual work requirements, such as workstreams, as well as the ability to capture and view help videos, and to expedite tasks. The Work and Help Series drives value through improvements in operational efficiency, and the return on investment (ROI) delivered by these elements is demonstrated through improved training, access to stored guidance from experts, and the ability to easily share "tribal knowledge" and skills from more experienced employees to new hires.

The Elements of a Connected Workplace
Companies that have already begun deploying wearable technologies have experienced improvements in the flexibility and productivity of many of their most important business processes and operations. One thing that makes wearable technologies much more transformative than the mobile technologies that came before is their ability to operate in the real world, understanding location, capturing rich context and enabling improved decision-making through real-time information and interactions.

APX Labs estimates that one in five adults works in a position that can realize immediate and tangible benefits from smart glasses. Manufacturers, especially, that evaluate their processes and identify problems needing solving in real time have the potential to experience significant gains in productivity, efficiency and compliance from smart glasses and other wearable technologies. The growing investments in IoT-enabled technologies and processes throughout industrial organizations are an encouraging step along the path to creating truly connected enterprises.

Brian Ballard is the CEO and co-founder of APX Labs, whose Skylight operating system enables the use of smart glasses and other wearable technologies to create ways for the workforce to interact with the digital and physical worlds.

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