Wearable tech has been hot this year, with a lot of companies emerging as players in the wearable space. Everything from activity monitors to wearable cameras to smart watches have popped into the Internet of Things (IoT) market, some making more impact than others. And while the implications on the consumer market are clear, the enterprise market remains wide open and ripe for disruption.
There are some obvious use cases for wearables in the workplace like employee monitoring, health and safety monitoring, and access control. Hitachi, for example, has already introduced what looks like an elaborate employee ID badge embedded with sensors that track who employees talk to — as well as where and how actively. "A manager can monitor who speaks up at meetings and who spends more time at the coffee machine than their desk," Forbes reported this week.
More devices like Hitachi's will come along at their own pace and not really change the way businesses run.
The area that I expect wearables to have the largest impact and disruptive force is in helping to manage and augment our everyday interactions with both people and things.
Earlier this year the International Data Corporation (IDC) reported that wearables took a huge step forward over the past year and predicted shipment volumes will exceed 19 million units in 2014, more than tripling last year's sales. From there, the global market will swell to 111.9 million units in 2018, resulting in a compound annual growth rate of 78.4 percent.
For the record, additional IDC research found that Samsung, which has already unveiled multiple wearable computing devices, was identified as the most trusted brand for wearables, ahead of Apple, Sony and Google.
But it's more than a matter of trust. To get to the point where wearables can really take on this role in our everyday lives, we need to go beyond just the tech we wear or others wear. We need to reach a point where sensors are truly pervasive, so that every item that we interact with has a record of that interaction and offers us some enriched data for our environment.
As more devices in the workplace become connected and have embedded sensors, then the work environment will become increasingly data rich.
The reason the devices around us will need to have embedded sensors is simple. We just do not have the real estate on our body to wear a sensor to tell us everything we might want to know.