It’s a good question and one that’s worth answering (or attempting to answer) as wearable technology becomes this year’s arms race.
In typical fashion, Apple didn’t jump and play its hand early when Android compatible smartwatches hit the market in the last few years. Instead, it waited and developed the Apple Watch, which has the entire modern world waiting anxiously for its release.
Wearable technology (including the Apple Watch) is quickly becoming the most scaled-down version of Apple’s offerings. As the iPhone continues to get larger and tablets – like the iPad – continue to shrink, those concepts are on the verge of blending together. The next logical progression is the introduction of an unobtrusive wearable tech piece, able to be on your person at all times, while maintaining the essential capabilities you expect from your handheld devices.
That’s where the Apple Watch fits in.
The Apple Watch is going to push the category forward and will almost definitely inspire many imitators, once competitors see how – when done right – wearable tech will start to supplant our need to pull a phone from a pocket or a tablet from a bag.
That ‘hands free’ feature is a key issue and leads, naturally, to many business uses. TechTarget breaks down some ways in which the Watch could land in a business setting:
Wearables may also be able to remotely manage equipment, such as machinery on an assembly line, making the workplace safer for employees. Workers who need to wear special suits, such as environmental disaster teams, could have hands-free access to data a smartwatch. Any user who needs instant access to important data -- members of sales teams, real estate agents, lawyers, rural doctors, law enforcement and fire fighters, military personnel and more - can benefit from using wearables in the workplace
It’s difficult to project exactly how far into the workplace the Apple Watch may reach. If it does become a staple, though, then it opens up a brand new set of questions on how to manage wearable tech within the workplace. How do you manage employee tech that’s on – and on them – all the time? While answers to those questions will still emerge, the benefits of wearables in general have already been demonstrated:
Safety – Doctors can check vital signs and monitor patient status during medical procedures without distraction. Employees of all kinds can be notified instantly of any hazards or emergencies (regardless of whether they're operating a vehicle or anything else that might tie their hands up).
Training – Employees can be given step-by-step instruction on a procedure or process, all through wearable tech. It's a perfect quick-reference solution that can eliminate the need to print out and distribute hundreds of manuals and allows for literal 'hands on' training methods.
Wayfinding – Powered by iBeacons and voice activation, wearable tech can help employees or others in navigating a facility (hospital, warehouse, factory) with haptic feedback. This feature could effectively replace maps or legends.
Monitoring – By using “glances,” wearable tech can be used to monitor the most recent status of a piece of equipment, patient, process, etc. In addition to getting important information out more quickly, wearables allow processes to be monitored all the time.
Access – Wearables in the workplace can stand in for traditional means of access. Instead of carrying a key fob or badge, wearable tech could be easily programmed to monitor employees going in and out of the workplace. This can improve security and give employees hassle-free access to where they need to be.
Public Service – Public servants can use wearable tech to improve their ability to better the community. Police officers, for example, could access records while walking or on bike patrol. Wearables could be used to identify suspects, license plates, and location of other units while walking a beat or during pursuit. Wearable tech can also provide documentation of an arrest or general police activity to ensure proper conduct.
Construction – Any job requiring heavy concentration and use of one's hands to do the job correctly will massively benefit from a device that removes distraction and the need to physically interact. Construction is a great example and in addition to the inherent benefits, workers could access their work plan and continue to improve the distribution of information across the site.
The Apple Watch is coming soon, whether or not the world is ready. We think it is. The Enterprise has room for the next step in technology and 2015 is going to be the proving ground that it not only fits, but will grow, adapt, and thrive.