WEAR­ABLES IN THE WORK­PLACE

Su­per­charg­ing En­ter­prise Ef­fec­tive­ness

Arabnet - The Quarterly - - Front Page - By Alexis Bagh­dadi | @Guer­rillawriter

Tech gi­ants like Ap­ple, Mi­crosoft, Sam­sung, and Sony have bred a wide, loyal and tech-hun­gry cus­tomer base for smart and con­nected con­sumer elec­tron­ics. This con­sti­tutes an ideal – and grow­ing – mar­ket for in­no­va­tive prod­ucts that are con­stantly be­ing de­vel­oped, up­graded, and en­hanced. Right now, wear­ables are mo­nop­o­liz­ing early adopters’ wish lists. Like per­sonal com­put­ers, MP3 play­ers, and smart­phones be­fore them, wear­ables ac­com­pany users all the time, and they too have made their way into the work­place. But it is in fact en­ter­prises – not con­sumers – who will drive the mass adop­tion of wear­ables. As they did with ear­lier devices, en­ter­prises have rec­og­nized the po­ten­tial of wear­ables to cre­ate value for them, and they are grad­u­ally in­te­grat­ing them into their core pro­cesses and op­er­a­tions. No com­pany wants to be the last to adopt a new tech­nol­ogy, es­pe­cially if it car­ries with it such big prom­ises of ef­fi­ciency and qual­ity im­prove­ment – not to men­tion bil­lions of dol­lars in sav­ings on ex­pen­di­tures. Let’s say it like it is: wear­ables will change the way en­ter­prises do busi­ness for­ever.

Why Wear­ables Are Win­ning

Wear­able ship­ments tripled in the third quar­ter 2015 com­pared to the same pe­riod in 2014, to­tal­ing 21 mil­lion units shipped, ac­cord­ing to In­ter­na­tional data Cor­po­ra­tion (IDC). Ju­niper Re­search,

re­ported that the global retail rev­enue from smart wear­able devices ex­ceeded $4.5 bil­lion in 2015. Fur­ther­more, it pro­jected this fig­ure will triple by end-2016, be­fore reach­ing $53.2 bil­lion by 2019.

There are clear rea­sons why wear­ables have con­quered con­sumers’ hearts. Their “blend-in” de­sign, func­tion, and hands-free op­er­a­tion are un­de­ni­ably strong sell­ing points. But wear­ables go be­yond this “gim­mick” for­mula that has dom­i­nated fads over the past decades. Their ca­pac­ity for in­te­gra­tion and phys­i­cal ad­van­tage open the door to orig­i­nal uses and ap­pli­ca­tions.

1. They can be synced to ex­ist­ing smart devices Wear­ables still fall un­der the cat­e­gory of “com­pan­ions” (ranked a lit­tle above ac­ces­sories), and will con­tinue to do so, ac­cord­ing to Ju­niper Re­search. Rather than re­place ex­ist­ing stand­alone devices, they work with smart­phones, con­nected ob­jects, apps, and each other, com­ple­ment­ing their func­tion­al­ity in a non-in­tru­sive and non-com­pet­ing way. For ex­am­ple, Le­banon’s Bank Audi in­tro­duced wear­ables (bracelets and watches) in its near field com­mu­ni­ca­tion (NFC) pay­ment so­lu­tions (Tap2­pay) which are linked to a mo­bile bank­ing app. Like­wise, the sen­sors on In­stabeat’s smart gog­gles are linked to a mo­bile app and al­low swim­mers to mea­sure their per­for­mance (a func­tion­al­ity that could be ex­tended to other sports).

This two-way de­vice com­mu­ni­ca­tion con­sti­tutes a ma­jor value propo­si­tion for cus­tomers, since they run no risk of see­ing their de­vice out­dated or out­classed. On the en­ter­prise level, this means adop­tion would oc­cur seam­lessly, with­out any ex­pen­sive in­fra­struc­ture or soft­ware up­grades.

2. They will soon be mass-pro­duced, grow­ing bet­ter and more af­ford­able The promis­ing out­look for the wear­able mar­ket has prompted more play­ers – even those not tra­di­tion­ally as­so­ci­ated with smart devices and wear­ables – to fol­low in this trend. Google, the search-en­gine-turned-tech-in­no­va­tor, is the most prom­i­nent ex­am­ple. Cam­era man­u­fac­tur­ers like Nikon, Canon, and new­comer Gopro have also rushed to in­tro­duce smart fea­tures and con­nec­tiv­ity to their prod­ucts. Th­ese may still be early days, but no one wants a re­peat of Ko­dak’s epic fail when it re­jected the first dig­i­tal cam­era in 1975 – in­vented by one of its own en­gi­neers! More­over, a wide and mot­ley crew of new de­vel­op­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers are con­stantly swelling the ranks of the wear­ables in­dus­try. As sup­ply con­tin­ues to grow, wear­ables will go into mass pro­duc­tion, be­com­ing more ac­ces­si­ble, more ver­sa­tile, and more af­ford­able.

3. They are dis­rupt­ing in­dus­tries Wear­ables have taken the m-health and per­sonal safety ver­ti­cals by storm, start­ing with heart and fit­ness mon­i­tors. Life­sense, de­vel­oped by the Le­banese startup Car­dio­di­ag­nos­tics, is an app-sup­ported wrist-worn heart rate mon­i­tor ca­pa­ble of de­tect­ing car­diac com­pli­ca­tions, alert­ing med­i­cal re­sponse teams, and guid­ing them to the pa­tient in case of emer­gency. Pathfinder, also from Le­banon, is an­other good ex­am­ple of a dis­rup­tive wear­able de­vice. It con­sists of a sen­sor-equipped belt linked to an app and ca­pa­ble of de­tect­ing ob­sta­cles to help visu­ally im­paired peo­ple nav­i­gate more ef­fec­tively and avoid var­i­ous ob­sta­cles. In this case, the choice of a belt pre­vailed over a phone, wrist or fore­head be­cause it is nat­u­rally lo­cated on the body’s most sta­ble area, and there­fore can read its sur­round­ings most ac­cu­rately.

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