Wearables in the Workplace

June 2, 2015

Wearables are growing up. They’re transitioning from fun, trendy gadgets to real, useful technology. A wearable computer, or “wearable,” is a computer worn on the body to enable mobility and hands-free/eye-free activities. Contrary to popular belief, wearables are not all watches, there are actually three different styles: monocular, immersive, and wrist-worn. A Monocular is a wearable in the form of glasses (i.e. Google Glass), and is used to give the user information for on the spot decision making. The second type, immersive, is also wearable in the form of glass (i.e. Epson Moverio), however they are usually more bulky and are used to give the user full-vision augmented reality. Last but not least, is probably the most common, the wrist-worn. A wrist-worn wearable (i.e. Apple Watch) can be used for many different applications and is instrumental for fast, organized communication.

This upswing in wearables is not just a brief trend. The number of internet connected devices are expected to grow from 1 billion now to 26 billion by 2020. Companies are actively working to make wearables more useful and transparent with everyday clothing to increase their popularity. Now that we’ve established what wearables are and how they are growing, it’s time to understand how they’re being used in both the consumer and corporate world.

Consumer World

In your everyday life, you’ve likely seen wearables predominantly being used for sports and fitness-related activities. For example, the Fitbit’s activity-tracking bands track how many steps you take, how many calories you burn, how long you sleep, your heart rate and other health and wellness statistics. While fitness-tracking wearables are extremely popular for consumers, user interest in the device usually fades after the three-to-four month honeymoon period.


Corporate World

In the corporate world, wearables are taking on bigger and more vital roles in companies every day. For example, a monocular device like Google Glass is used by a manager in a YoYo manufacturing plant to provide instant inventory information, cutting out hours of tedious work that would be necessary without the wearable.

The military is also capitalizing on the functionality of wearables by using wrist-worn devices to keep track of soldier’s vital statistics such as heart rate or hydration levels. The military is even using monocular wearables to improve aim and provide soldiers a 360º view of the battlefield.

However, with this enormous increase of wearables in the workplace, it is necessary to have policies in place to monitor how their wearables are being used and make sure they’re secure. A hospital, for example, needs to ensure patient records cannot be easily accessed or hacked by people not authorized to that information. Wearable technology is so new, there are still a lot of bugs that need to be worked out. Seventy-five percent of apps across all wearable platforms fail basic security tests. This is alarming, because security is of utmost importance.

Corporate Risks

  • Physical Access – Lost or stolen devices
  • Malicious Code – Tricking the end user
  • Device Attacks – Hackers are getting better at attacking personal devices
  • Communication Interception – Wi-Fi hacking, often in public venues
  • Insider Threats – Employees gaining access to sensitive data

Due to these risks, companies need a policy outlining the following:

  • Acceptable use of company provided and personal devices and applications in the workplace
  • Policy to protect employees’ privacy
  • Integrate wearable technology and IoT into current electronic communication policy
  • Rules around privacy, pictures and videos must be extended from smart devices to wearables and other IoT devices
  • Violation reporting process and penalties
  • Assess data that can be accessed by wearables – determine risk

With all that in mind, Mindglobal is ahead of the wearables eight ball in establishing these policies. With Mindglobal’ SMART Technology Platform, a company can monitor both mobile devices and their connected wearables, help implement bulk deployments of tablets and wearables to create workplace efficiencies and support end users with new technologies implemented by our clients. The world of wearables is taking off – stay informed, stay current and stay safe. Contact us for more information and to see how we can help you today!