The future of wearables is in the workplace

Aldo AgostinelliFourteen billion dollars: such will be the revenue generated by the wearable technology market in the professional sector by 2021, according the Abi Research Institute’s forecast. Wearable devices designed for the workplace are, indeed, taking the market by storm. On the other hand, the latest data published by the IDC shows that sales of smartwatches in the mass market have decreased: in the third quarter of 2016 the sales decreased by 51.6% compared to the same period in 2015.

“The relevant decrease in the volumes of shipments of smartwatches shows that such watches are not for everybody”, said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst at IDC Mobile Device Trackers. “The purpose and the possible applications of objects have to be clear, and this is the reason why many manufacturers have been focusing on fitness tracking and sport activities”.

In other words: the success of high-tech devices derives from how clear their function is, how user-friendly they are and, especially, how useful they can be. And this is particularly true when it comes to wearable devices such as smartwatches.

The success of high-tech devices derives from how clear their function is, how user-friendly they are and, especially, how useful they can be.

Therefore, since the public seem skeptical about why they should wear a “smart” watch telling them who is calling on the smartphone they carry in their pocket, watches specializing in a specific task, such as monitoring sport performance or checking professionals’ physical wellbeing, are bound to win over the competition.

Research commissioned by the PMI Health Group showed that 26% of people working in London are currently using wearables, compared to an average of 9% of those working in the rest of the country.

“Wearables used by employees provide employers with a precious opportunity to collect valuable data aimed at enhancing the wellbeing of their staff”, explained Mike Blake, PMI Health Group Director.

The current market forecast foresees an increase of 800% in the use of wearable devices by 2018. In the UK, that translates to 4.6 billion pounds in turnover. Workplace health is therefore one of the most promising fields in the evolution and development of smartwatches which, if duly targeted, could attract wide and well defined market niches.

Workplace health is therefore one of the most promising fields in the evolution and development of smartwatches.

This is confirmed by the interest shown by overseas venture capitalists in start-ups working in the field, specializing in the development of diagnostics apps to be integrated into wearables. These include Cardiogram, an American start-up which has just received a 2 million dollars funding for the development of their app, which is designed to be integrated into the Apple Watch first, and then into any other wearable devices, from Android Wear to fitness trackers such as Fitbit.

At present, Cardiogram is learning to measure and predict, as accurately as possible, heart rate and possible atrial fibrillations. Cardiogram researchers are working in with researchers and heart specialists from the University of California, as part of the Health eHeart study.

Mike Blake sums up the benefits of similar wearables in the workplace well: “Monitoring employees’ health by using wearables is not only advantageous to them, but allows for a more proactive approach to managing absences and, in the long-term, may contribute to reducing incidents and the welfare cost for companies”.

Would you use wearables to monitor your employees’ wellbeing? Tweet me at @AgostinelliAldo or share your thoughts here.

If you liked this, you’ll enjoy my blog on the internet of things.