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Which Wearable Technology is Right for Your Industry?

Written by Tim Ingles
June 29, 2016

Wearable technology, like voice recognition devices enable hands-free, eyes-free workflows.

Voice recognition devices enable hands-free, eyes-free workflows.

In the most basic definition, wearable technology refers to computing devices workers and managers can attach to their bodies. These mobile data collection devices may look like clothing accessories or may be embedded in traditional outfits. There is a wealth of options available to businesses, and decision-makers need to evaluate the benefits of potential assets.

As technology grows in popularity, each market finds new ways to use wearable devices. PricewaterhouseCoopers surveyed consumers and business representatives and found the majority were excited about the future of wearable technology. Consumers wanted devices to help them monitor personal health and immerse themselves in entertainment, while different industries have unique expectations for cutting-edge data collection solutions.

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Here are some ways wearable computing technology can help different business, and which devices are right for expected demand:

On the Production Line

Manufacturing may involve employees performing a number of complicated tasks. Wearable devices allow managers to observe production processes through cameras, voice capturing technology or automated data collection devices attached to workers. The Cut Form Fab Metal blog listed Google Glass and GoPro as options for companies that want a live visual feed of manufacturing.

While simple data collection solutions will provide plenty of information on production output pace and allow employees to send progress in real-time, complicated manufacturing may profit from augmented reality technology. With devices such as Google Glass, the solution not only collects data but displays information for the user. Employees can build goods while referencing important schematic data or work order details.

Implementing wearables in manufacturing is also done for the sake of employee safety. Devices may give warnings when equipment is not used properly or employees are about to make some other hazardous mistake. Other options designed specifically for laborious tasks, such as connected safety vest and braces, can monitor the physical health of the employee.

In the Warehouse

Distribution centers and other businesses that deal with supply chain logistics management also have to perform manual tasks, so wearable devices give them the freedom to move inventory and report activities using hands-free technology. Many warehouses use some form of data collection solutions to turn merchandise into information as to create visibility of supply chain speed and efficiency. The more accurate the data, the easier it is to coordinate with supply chain partners and fill orders.

The RFgen white paper “Making the Case for Wearable Tech in Warehouse” provided the example of a food distributor that used voice picking technology to move fresh produce. After integrating the RFgen-Vocollect Voice Solution with its JD Edwards EnterpriseOne system, the business increased picking and shipping speeds, shortened training times, improved traceability and gained the ability to identify real-time supply chain trends.

Any industry that relies on manual tasks could benefit from wearables when it’s not possible to hold or use traditional computing devices. Wearables on factory floors and warehouse should also be durable enough to deal with constant use. Ring and glove scanners and voice headsets are popular options.

Around the Office

One place where wearables haven’t quite taken off is on the corporate side of the industry, according to Fast Company. The appearance of some wearable devices makes them inappropriate for formal settings, so smartwatches and other subtler options are more popular with sales teams and executives.

Wearable technology that utilizes ERP and CRM solutions provide users with a direct link to other segments of an organization. This means sales teams can check their watch to see inventory levels or place an order with manufacturing while still in a client’s office. The hands-free operation isn’t as necessary, but the ability to communicate in real-time is important for any member of a business.