Wearable technology is coming, whether businesses like it or not. However, along with the benefits it brings, there are concerns. There are safety, security, and legal ramifications.
Recent statistics indicate that wearable wireless medical device sales will top 100 million a year by 2016. Sports and fitness wearable devices is expected to hit 80 million in sales by then.
From Nike’s Fuel Band for the health conscious to wearable bands that send health information to caregivers – wearable technology has moved rapidly into the medical, fitness, and lifestyle realms. Now it is moving into general business as well.
Wearable Technology in the Workplace
Today, employees bring their own devices to work. They use smartphones and tablets to accomplish tasks and keep in touch with teammates. With the rapid advances in all areas of technology, is wearable technology for the workplace far behind? This may be the year, according to many projections.
Currently, 58 percent of employees embrace the idea of using wearable technology, especially if it can improve their performance. One device – Google Glass – is making waves in the office, prompting Google to reach out to companies.
“If you’re a developer who is creating software for U.S based enterprises, we’d love your help in building the future of Glass at Work,” Google wrote in a recent post. Specifically, they cited the Washington Capitals and Schlumberger as two companies that are exploring “new possibilities with Glass.”
See post here.
Whether wearable technology is helpful in all situations is still under debate. Certain professions, say physicians, would likely benefit from hands-free devices. Some have even suggested that employees engaged in handling hazardous substances might wear a biometric sensor. However, there are those who suggest wearable technology doesn’t belong in all work situations.
Wearable Technology Needs Careful Monitoring
What if a driver used a hands-free navigation device attached to smart glasses or a machine worker wore a device activated by voice control? For many, wearable devices are all about safety and distraction.
Voice-activation won’t work in a loud environment such as a factory or machine shop. There are already too many fatalities on our roads due to distracted driving. Wearable technology needs to work with its environment. You can’t have employees removing safety gear in order to make their technology work.
Then there are the potential security risks that some fear wearable technology might create. There are concerns that if hackers gain access they will be able to see trade secrets or acquire highly confidential information. In the wrong hands, commercial espionage and identity theft are surely possible. While some feel these are merely the concerns of alarmists, business gurus and security experts suggest that it’s best to be prepared.
Finally, there are the legal ramifications. Companies need to align the use of wearable technology with current federal and state laws. This includes laws surrounding the right to privacy, a potential hostile work environment, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Developing appropriate and effective guidelines and policies for use beforehand will enable organizations to better monitor and control outcomes.
There is no doubt that wearable technology is on the move to invade our workspace. It’s just a matter of whether organizations will be prepared to deal with the technology effectively.