Enterprise wearables have had a slow start, but experts are predicting that as the 5G rollout ramps up and devices get smarter, wearables will start popping up at work.
ABI Research forecasts that enterprise wearable device revenue from smartwatches, smart glasses and wearable scanners will top US$55 billion in 2022 from a comparatively small US$10.5 billion in 2017.
This revolution is already starting, as a number of wearables prove their benefits to business.
Microsoft wowed the mixed reality scene last year when it quietly unveiled HoloLens, an augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headset running on the Windows Mixed Reality platform. Something that up until now has been strictly limited to sci-fi movies suddenly looks possible – the physical manipulation of hologrammatic representations of designs and products, allowing users to see their work from all angles and make changes without costly prototyping.
HoloStudio takes that one step further, with 3D modelling that can then be sent directly to a 3D printer. The applications for construction and manufacturing are obvious, but Microsoft also demoed an interactive human anatomy curriculum, showing how AR/VR can also be used in education and medicine.
A new vertical for the wearable industry that’s been gaining ground is ‘hearables’, in-ear smart devices like Theatro. Theatro connects employees to each other and into the enterprise’s computer systems through voice activation, using a personal assistant and mobile apps.
Connecting employees directly to each other is an obvious boost to efficiency, but voice access to enterprise applications has even more potential. An employee can check inventory, order new products and access customer systems quickly and seamlessly throughout any customer engagement.
ProGlove calls itself the “first smart glove for industries” and offers manufacturing and logistics companies a variety of tools to make their employees more efficient. The glove features built-in sensors and a readout display, and its applications include: telling workers which tool they need for a task; what the next step is in their manufacturing process; or hands-free scanning of goods in the warehouse.
Not only does ProGlove aim to make workers more efficient, it also helps them work in safety, without having to carry and refer to handheld computers or paper documents.
A simple but effective solution to business security is offered by the Nymi, a bracelet worn by employees that gives two-factor authentication. The band can detect the wearer’s electrocardiogram to prove ID.
Once activated, the band relays the user’s authenticated state as long as it’s being worn. In this way, employees can securely interact with Industrial Internet of Things devices or work computers throughout the day, instead of logging into each individual machine.
Zebra wearable computers
Those who are willing to fully embrace enterprise wearables can take advantage of Zebra's full suite of products, including a microphone-equipped headset, earphones, a wrist-mounted computer and a ring scanner.
The suite is aimed at the manufacturing, logistics, transport and retail industries, and offers a host of features, including Bluetooth scanning and voice applications.