Wearables are in vogue right now. The technologies allow us to unobtrusively read messages via our wrists and safely take calls on the go. By eliminating the buzz-check-respond interruption loop, wearables promise to help us solve problems with just a touch or a phrase.
As the CEO of a business communication company, these advances intrigue me because of their power to integrate with tried-and-true technologies. Take the text message: It persists as a go-to communication technology because it works; everyone reads texts. The Apple Watch isn’t replacing texting; it’s making communication by text easier than ever.
These three wearables promise to make business professionals’ lives a bit more user-friendly:
1. Bluetooth headsets
Sure, you look ridiculous wearing a Bluetooth headset, but this is the OG wearable. Headsets are a time-tested solution for business professionals who need to safely take calls on the road. For workers in other sectors, the ability to communicate hands-free while operating heavy machinery is a huge advantage.
In the office, attending meetings and conference calls without being tethered to a desk increases productivity. Professionals gain privacy and mobility while staying connected.
Some popular options for business communication boast talk times that can last the entire business day. Noise cancellation can be useful for those working around heavy machinery, and many headsets have wireless ranges of 30 feet or more so professionals can wander while they chat. Buy one with a good return policy, and experiment with it before you break it out for business.
2. Apple Watch
Apple Watch’s integration with the rest of Apple’s lineup gave it immediate appeal among the iPhone-toting business crowd. The Watch seamlessly integrates with iPhone, so notifications for apps from LinkedIn to Angry Birds are available with just a quick glance at the wrist.
With supported note-taking apps like Clear and Evernote, wearers can make to-do lists, view itineraries, and record voice notes right from their wrists. Better yet, business travelers can navigate participating cities and points of interest with Citymapper. And for those who are tired of feeding the meter, PayByPhone Parking lets Watch wearers pay by phone and even tracks how much time is left on the meter. The Watch ensures business leaders stay informed even when they can’t reach their phones.
3. Google Glass
Glass didn’t make the huge impact on the consumer market that Google expected, but the industrial uses of augmented reality are fascinating.
Imagine a mechanic working on an engine that has each part necessary to troubleshoot highlighted and the steps numbered by a digital overlay. Think about surgeons in the operating room using precise Glass-generated guides to perform complex, tedious procedures. Or consider the truck driver, with his exact route color-coded for him so he can make efficient deliveries with his eyes on the road. Next-gen wearables like Glass can provide on-the-job training and a consistency in service like never before.
While it’ll likely be a few years before professionals are wearing Glass around the office, Google’s platform did attract plenty of developers who are creating the software foundation to accommodate a wide range of industrial uses of augmented reality.
GPS and other smart features in Glass will boost the product’s usefulness even further for business leaders. Remember the trucker who can use Glass to navigate efficiently to his destination? Thanks to the built-in GPS functionality, his manager can check drivers’ statuses around the country to monitor their progress, locations, and safety.
Wearables in the Workplace
Whether you’re using them to send texts or save lives, the more connected devices are rolled out into the workforce, the more important proper training, communication, and safety become. Wearables are in their early stages, and the technology can prove frustrating or even dangerous without proper instruction. In addition, the devices might be vulnerable to hackers unless users take proper security measures.
Watch for biometric security — such as the iPhone’s fingerprint-reading Touch ID system — to advance in tandem with wearables. For business professionals, this security technology is perfect; it’s easy to use, and it’s tougher to crack than a standard passcode. Just ensure employees understand the responsibility entrusted to them, as well as the procedures necessary to prevent or limit breaches.
Wearables facilitate multitasking and better communications by helping users become more aware of their environment and the task at hand. While not every consumer is interested in wearable technology, industrial applications will continue to grow.
Though wearable technology is in its infancy, it holds great promise for the future of our economy.