Wearables are smart devices that can be worn, like watches and glasses, and are often equipped with sensors that can connect to the internet and mobile applications to exchange data. According to Statista, the number of connected wearable devices around the world was roughly 325 million in 2016 and will jump to 830 million by 2020. Smart watches are among the most popular with over 170 million units of wearable wristwear devices which are predicted to be shipped in 2020. Apart from other big smartwatch vendors like Samsung, Lenovo, Garmin and Pebble, Apple’s watchOS is considered to be the most used smart wristwear operating system.
Some of the most common functions for wristwear devices like smartwatches and health and fitness trackers include monitoring steps, distance travelled, steps climbed, calories burned, activity statistics, sleep time and quality, heart rate, fitness level, workout routes, GPS location etc. These devices are not only helpful in tracking these types of user habits, but the technology is also beneficial to businesses and various industries, like in healthcare and manufacturing, for improving workplace productivity, quickly solving issues and ensuring the efficiency of organizations.
The Top 4 Industries Using Wearables
Several industries like healthcare, manufacturing, law enforcement and education are greatly benefiting from using wearable technology to improve internal processes and provide patients, customers and employees with better ways of enhancing their experiences and professions. Let’s take a closer look at the top 4 industries using wearables.
In hospitals, healthcare professionals like doctors and nurses are able to use wearables to remotely monitor patient vitals and conditions like the heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar levels and body temperature, while also being more efficient in gathering health data. The data collected by these devices gives doctors and nurses a more comprehensive view of their patients which enables them to customize care plans.
Doctors are using wearables like the Google Glass while interacting with patients to handle administrative work like note-taking and patient record-keeping. They can also be used to live stream procedures and during surgery, the doctors can consult X-Rays and patient records while operating. And, for consumers, the Apple Watch Series 4 can do ECG recordings to monitor the heart and any irregular rhythms. It can also detect falls for those older than 65 which notifies emergency services if there is no movement from the injured one-minute after the fall.
In 2017, the FDA approved a project called Abilify MyCite, which is a pill for patients to swallow that contains a sensor to track their health. The pill transmits data to a wearable patch which then sends the information to a mobile application. This project is helpful in treating mental health disorders and chronic illnesses like diabetes. The FDA also approved the Zephyr BioPatch, which can track and monitor a patient’s health condition 24/7 by attaching a wearable to their chest. If any issues arise, nurses and doctors are notified immediately with the patch transmitting information to a smartphone.
By equipping workers with wearables in manufacturing, they can further help with safety and awareness for injury prevention. A smart wristband or headwear could present the worker with environmental and safety information like alerts if a machine is malfunctioning or if a surface is too hot to touch or if there are spilt hazardous fluids nearby. The technology can improve situational awareness and help workers be more mindful of what is in their surroundings like dangerous equipment, shelving or hardware, minimizing the overall risks.
Wearables even allow for hands-free training, for example, General Motors uses the Google Glass to provide better interactive training for their employees directly in their field of work rather than sitting in a conference room learning about the trade. And, with the combination of augmented reality with wearable techs, like the HoloLens, workers can do predictive modelling and project designing and planning. With this technology, workers can see the next steps in a building or assembly process with the overlay of digital content, seeing the final product before even physically completing it.
Wearable tech even helps to locate items in fulfilment centres, provide equipment inspection and they help to deliver remote order and commands to speed up operations and improve efficiencies. Managers can view their workers’ operations remotely as well as track their movements and level of productivity.
Law enforcement officers using wrist-worn smart devices gives them a new resource in the field to connect to CAD, Computer-Aided Dispatch, and gain access to critical information. This technology is throwing law enforcement into a new era of police safety. Wearables like this enable hands-free readiness, situational awareness and allow for the quick review of incoming information to officers. Smart watches can also respond to voice communication and receive instant alerts from dispatch such as notifying an officer of a felony warrant accompanied by a picture of the criminal.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch can send out duress alerts. This means an officer can easily summon assistance if in trouble or danger. It also helps that this watch is equipped with GPS and so the officer can easily be located. Thanks to an internal accelerometer, the Galaxy Watch can also notify dispatch of any sudden movements and signs of stress like running or a spiked heart rate. Foot pursuits can be dangerous for officers and so dispatch can track an officer’s route with the help of real-time geolocation in the wearable.
Wearable tech has a promising future in the education industry. It can allow for increased engagements from students, providing better interactions with their lessons and more immersive learning. Technology like the Google Glass can be used for educators to create teaching schedules that can be shared to fellow students and teaching staff including timelines for submitting assignments and exam schedules. This provides an improved method of communication between student and teacher.
While using wearables students can take advantage of its note-taking and recording capabilities during lessons and lectures, gathering all the information they can. And with messaging functions, students can even send questions to teachers for homework help. This is also helpful for distance learning where students can participate in lessons remotely if they are absent or sick.
In an interesting development in education, the Google Glass came out with a version of their product called Google Enterprise Edition, which helps children with autism spectrum disorder improve their social skills. The images projected on the Glass help the children better understand the emotions of the people around them.
As wearable devices increase in popularity, more industries will begin to implement this technology to improve internal processes and productivity. They will begin to see how it can disrupt their businesses for the better. For more on how we develop Apple Watch apps, check out our website!