Smartwatches, smartglasses, smart ID badges, and activity trackers will all find a home in the enterprise and change how we do our jobs.
You're forgiven for feeling that wearable technology suffers from a hype bubble. As of today, most wearable tech categories – outside of fitness – boast a high number of products but a low number of buyers.
Looking past the hype, though, wearables represent the next logical step in the mobile revolution. If done right – with vigorous ecosystems of brands, retailers, healthcare providers, and even governments tapping into their value – wearables will create more efficient and seamless experiences for wearers.
Many of these wearable scenarios will come about through a surprising channel – the enterprise. While most of the world focuses on consumer wearables, enterprises might offer an even bigger opportunity. Over the next few years, companies will experiment with wearables in both customer-facing and back-end work scenarios. Here's a look at seven ways wearables will enter the enterprise.
1. Wearables will become embedded in healthcare systems. We're all familiar with the consumer fitness devices market. Companies like Fitbit, Nike, Jawbone, and Basis help people track their activity levels (and in some cases, their nutrition and sleep patterns) in the name of health. Those devices are sold to individual consumers, but perhaps a bigger opportunity lies in embedding them into the wider healthcare system. Fitlinxx does just that, working with insurance companies, hospitals, and corporate wellness programs to distribute its activity-tracking wearable along with software and tools to help employees use the devices effectively.
The FitLinxx Pebble activity tracker
Doctors have access to the Fitlinxx data, which helps improve the chances of sustained health. And companies and employees that use wearable devices for healthcare may be eligible for lower insurance rates, too – another incentive.
2. Retailers will create innovative in-store experiences. Imagine walking into a clothing store to find that the sales associate knows your name and greets you with two shirts that might interest you – in your own size and in your favorite colors. Or walking up to a 4K digital display that offers you an on-the-spot promotion.
These scenarios can be achieved through mobile phones interacting with in-store beacons, but they are better executed via smartwatches. Mobile phones can be stolen, or require repeated authentication by the user (even with biometric solutions like those on Apple's iPhone 5S). A smartwatch has the potential – as with Bionym's Nymi band – to create a secure, persistent authentication state so long as it's around the wearer's wrist. In other words, a user doesn't have to repeat sign-ins, enter passwords, or sign her name at point of purchase; she’s known as herself so long as the band remains clasped. And Forrester's data shows that 28% of online U.S. consumers are interested in wrist-based wearables.
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