It’s safe to say that wearables have successfully carved themselves a place in the consumer market: smartwatches, fitness trackers and notification devices are playing an increasingly prominent role in our day-to-day existence. Rapid advancements in flexible display technology mean that we’re able to expand our notion of what wearable tech can do, and where it can be used. But where do they fit in during working hours? Can wearables actually help us do our jobs?
In fact, they can. A study conducted by Goldsmiths, University of London in 2014 found that wearable technology boosts employee productivity by 8.5 percent. Dr Chris Brauer, lead researcher on the study, said ‘using data generated from [wearable] devices, organisations can learn how human behaviours impact productivity, performance, well-being and job satisfaction’. And this won’t only benefit companies – employees will also gain insights into their own work habits and can maximise their output based on the device’s readings.
As businesses start to explore the possibilities of wearables in the office, we take a look at some of the ways wearable tech can enhance different work environments.
One of the most attractive features of anything wearable is convenience. Whether we use them for personal use or for work, it’s all about enhancing our quality of life, getting more done and staying connected on the go.
FlexEnable, the flexible electronics platform provider based in Cambridge, has developed a fully flexible organic liquid crystal display (OLCD): glass-free, thin as a sheet of paper, completely shatterproof and conformable.
Plastic LCDs will benefit all types of wearables (image via FlexEnable)
Although this is still a prototype at the moment, OLCDs could revolutionise the industry and create a valuable market for wearables in the workplace. This will allow smartwatches to display greater amounts of information to incorporate pictures and videos, making it easier to work on a wearable and increasing that all-important wrist real estate. Because the display is so lightweight, it will make remote working that much more accessible: imagine wrapping your entire day’s work around your wrist or rolling it up and slipping it into your coat pocket; in the construction industry, imagine being able to access building plans on your hi-vis jacket. The versatility of this technological advancement has paved the way for an exciting wearable future, one that could change the structure of the modern office.
Defined as ‘a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world’, augmented reality is one facet of wearable tech that could prove especially useful to certain industries. One company pioneering this AR revolution is Optinvent, who specialise in eye display products – digital eyewear, AR glasses and wearable display. One of their latest projects, the ORA-X, is a pair of smart headphones that feature a front-facing camera, WiFi capabilities and a microphone for voice commands. The ease with which the user is able to execute mobile computing could change the way we work: anything with heavy industry, warehousing, even the medical industry could benefit from the hands-free aspect of these devices.
‘Wear’ are we headed now?
Although it’s easy to assume that these developing technologies will only be available to big businesses with money to spare, wearable tech could actually be the perfect tool for SMEs. Small businesses are poised to benefit this latest tech trend because wearables are designed first and foremost for efficiency. Using data collected from wearables, small teams can maximise productivity and function as well-oiled machines. Prototypes like FlexEnable’s AMOLED display allow wearable tech to become a valuable asset in the workplace and could fundamentally change the way we work.