DUBAI, UAE -- The wearable-technology revolution hit fever pitch in August 2014. At first it simmered - the Fitbit Flex, Google Glass and the Pebble smartwatch were early trailblazers - yet everything seemed to be an entrée for the Apple Watch-led wearable feast set to explode.
In April, Apple's first wearable is expected to take the category to uncharted heights, featuring watches that range from US$349 for the entry-level model to US$17,000 for the top-tier 18-carat gold editions. Along with Android Wear from Google, which powers watches such as the Moto 36, and mind-blowing advances in virtual-reality technology, these amazing new products are part of a seismic shift in the consumer technology landscape.
And, as with any major technological game-changer, the business world is now exploring how it can take advantage of the new possibilities provided by such gizmos. From smartglasses and smart- watches to augmented reality and fitness trackers, companies have a lot to gain from wearable tech.
A study called The Human Cloud at Work: a Study into the Impact of Wearable Technologies in the Workplace concluded that employees on average were 8.5 per cent more productive when using wearable technology and 3.5 per cent more satisfied in their work.
"Wearable technologies are arguably the biggest trend since tablet computing, so it's natural employees and businesses will look to use them in the workplace," says the report's author, Chris Brauer, Founder of the Centre for Creative & Social Technologies at Goldsmiths, University of London.
"By using data from the devices, organisations can learn how human behaviours impact productivity, performance, wellbeing and job satisfaction. The results show organisations and employees need to develop and implement strategies for introducing and harnessing the power of wearables in the workplace."
Wearable tech in the workplace isn't just the stuff of studies and conjecture. At its gargantuan distribution centre in Ireland, UK supermarket giant Tesco tracks its workers using connected armbands with 2.8-inch displays. Tasks are allocated to workers on the floor, and users are nudged if their orders are short, boosting efficiency at every turn.
It's not just about time efficiencies either. There are 30 Fortune 500 companies using Fitbit activity trackers to promote healthier lifestyles among their workers, challenging employees to complete team and collective goals, to boost team performances and enjoy the benefits of a fitter workforce.
While we could - and are - finding efficiencies in the workplace from these devices, consideration must still be taken as to how wearables affect us as human beings. 24/7 tracking may be a manufacturer's dream, but there are undeniable emotional side effects.
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