Wearables: They’re Not Just for Consumers, Think Bigger
Guest post by Daniel Guyette, Lead Product Marketing Manager, AT&T Mobility Business Solutions
When we think about wearables it’s easy to get swept away by the consumer-oriented solutions. Think about how many people you know who are already wearing some type of device to monitor their level of fitness or all the excitement that surrounded Google Glass and Apple’s Smartwatch. It’s easy to forget about another huge opportunity in the wearable market: the enterprise.
ABI Research suggests the enterprise wearables market could reach $18 billion by 2019. That’s a staggering amount to achieve in just a few years. The need is there and some of the hurdles that may have slowed down the adoption of wearables in the enterprise are already being solved. By all indications, businesses perceive substantial ROI being possible, which promotes persistent use of wearable tech.
When creating apps and wearable solutions it’s imperative to think about legacy system integration and security. Developers who already have expertise in these areas can apply that to wearables. They should focus on how to use the data they’re collecting or sending and how to get it securely in and out of legacy systems in real time. They can create that bridge. AT&T has security and MDM platforms that developers could use to support these needs.
There are a few industries where we see the biggest opportunity and need for wearable tech solutions: Health care, field services, first responders, and manufacturing. The key roles for wearables in the enterprise include:
- Safety and health: The ability to remotely monitor employees or patients in an effort to improve response times or ideally, proactively avoid life threatening conditions.
- Information: Field service providers deal with multiple methods and procedures, they require access to the right information when they need it in an unobtrusive manner.
- Locating and wayfinding: Wide-area facilities need better ways to locate stock and other materials.
- Communication: First responders often find themselves in situations where it may not be easy to communicate. Using devices equipped with video streaming capabilities or on skin audio sensors can help alleviate pain points.
- Identity management: Biometrics can play a key role here to help identify users in manufacturing. By using and deploying identifying technologies in a factory, engineers can easily pinpoint which operators perform different tasks.
Looking for ideas to leverage wearables for the enterprise? The possibilities are seemingly limitless. To help provide some inspiration, we did some research to learn more about the challenges people in the medical field and manufacturing operations face daily. Here’s what they had to say:
- A first responder on the need for video streaming from a wearable: “If there’s a badly injured victim at a scene, I need to follow a Medical Directive. If I could connect with a doctor to show the exact condition of the person, that would make it more straightforward. It’s very hard to describe symptoms in enough detail on the phone, which I have to do now. For example when someone seems too far gone to intervene with a resuscitation.”
- A fire fighter illustrating the opportunity for video streaming: “When you are inside a structural fire you have to use your radio to report out to the commander on what you are seeing. When we have respirators on, we use a method called ‘skip breathing’ to talk. Come off oxygen, hold your breath and talk, then take another breath of oxygen and talk some more.”
- A nurse on the opportunity for proving location and identity via wearable: “At least six times a shift, I have to go to a medical cabinet and take out controlled substances. To do that I need to have another nurse present to witness. Its time consuming, contacting nurses to see who is available and disruptive waiting by the cabinet for them to come.”
- A manufacturing engineer discussing opportunity in tracking equipment usage: “when a process breaks, I have to figure out who the operators were, it turns out that the operator wasn’t certified to run that machine”
Hackathons: Inspiration for Creating Wearable Apps for Enterprises
There’s no reason to re-invent the wheel, we can take what we’ve learned from the consumer-driven wearables market and apply it to the enterprise. Consider partnering with established companies and creating a way to use their existing product to solve an enterprise need. Developers are already doing it at some of our hackathons. For example, last year we held a hackathon that focused on public safety and developers created potentially life-saving apps. Some of the apps included a way people could communicate with EMTs about injuries or medical issues, and a solution that monitors the amount of time a first responder is still in a dangerous situation.
How have other developers leveraged wearables? At this year’s AT&T Developer Summit Hackathon, a number of teams completed an app entered into the Enterprise Wearables challenge (read more about the Hackathon here). These submissions include:
- R U Awake, was awarded $10K for their development of sleepy driver monitoring and intervention system in the Enterprise Wearables Challenge. The R U Awake app sensed sleepy drivers based on hand movements on through a Samsung Gear S. Through APIs, this app also monitors certain movements of the steering wheel and provides escalating notifications to the driver. Integration with an Enterprise dispatch system through alerts to fleet dispatch and tracking maps and logs assist with immediate intervention as well as the management and scheduling of drivers.
- A runner up in the Enterprise Wearables challenge (and winner of Sponsored Data Kicker Contest), trAct was designed to track activities of hotel staff through wearables and beacons and feed data into a central monitoring console. The trAct application caught the attention of a VP of IT onsite who was interested in potential pilot of the application for the optimization of staff.
- Red Alert assisted with building evacuation management in the event of an emergency leveraging drones and wearables. Watch the Red Alert pitch here (at 7:00 into the video) as well as the other top 20 finalists presenting, a number of them also leveraging a wearables.
There are millions of apps for smartphones, but not many for the new wearable devices that are hitting the market. This is an opportunity to get in on the ground floor and build apps for these devices with a focus on the enterprise.