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The 6 Most Popular Applications for Wearables in Enterprise

 

  1. Heads-up, Hands-free Information
    1. Easy access to information from an ERP system (using touch, gesture or voice commands; a heads-up or glanceable display)
    2. Step-by step instructions for building, assembling, fixing and inspecting; plus safety procedures and other company protocols
    3. Hands-free documentation of information

Paper manuals and lists, bulky tablets and PC stations are not ideal for workers who need their hands free and eyes on the job. Instructions for assembling the wing of an airplane, servicing an elevator, or inspecting a vehicle can be displayed via smart glasses, overlaid on top of the actual assembly or machine. For short checklist items, a smartwatch could be used; and employees can verify each step of their work.

  1. Remote Expert /SME/Support/Assistance/Guidance/Troubleshooting/Collaboration
    1. Many terms for this but essentially telepresence: Using the front-facing camera and microphone in a pair of smart glasses to share one’s view of a situation with a centrally- or remotely-located expert via live audio and (point-of-view) video
    2. Enhancing service efficiency in the field: Mainly applies to emergency situations, i.e. when a piece of equipment breaks down or a field worker encounters a problem he or she is unable to diagnose or resolve
    3. Saves time and money: Problem can be fixed in just a few hours (less downtime,) and don’t have to pay for an SME to travel to the worksite
    4. Having a second pair of eyes, from Skype-like collaboration (including ability to annotate the user’s field of view) to two people interacting in a 3D world through immersive technologies
    5. Virtual meeting spaces

When a printing press breaks down in a newspaper factory, production halts. In any time-critical business, downtime means lost profit and unhappy customers. Rather than wait for a technician to arrive, the operator could show the broken machine to one of the manufacturer’s techs using smart glasses. The tech would be able to direct the operator around the machine, identify the issue and verbally or visually guide him through the fix. If a new part is required, the order can be immediately placed.

  1. Design Visualization
    1. For design conception, collaboration, and communication
    2. Helping an architect, engineer or designer develop an idea without the use of 2D paper drawings or expensive/wasteful 3D models; allowing him/her to inhabit the design as it’s refined (opens up new possibilities for experimentation)
    3. Helping two or more designers from all over collaborate on the same project: Creating a shared experience of the design to develop ideas, work out flaws and make more informed decisions affecting the rest of the project
    4. Design reviews: Identifying potential issues before significant investments are made and before building commences; saves time and money (less rework)
    5. Helping all stakeholders, including clients, contractors and future operators of a building, to visualize the design in a format they can understand
    6. Product development (ex. an automobile or product packaging)
    7. Planning: Configuring the layout of a factory, construction site or other facility to accommodate all necessary equipment, people and vehicles (making sure all equipment will fit)

Collaborating on a building project is challenging. There are many stakeholders, all of whom need to be working off the same design from wherever they’re based. These include the architect who designs the building to meet a client’s needs and preferences; along with engineers, construction crews, various contractors, government agencies, inspectors, and the public.

A building is first imagined in 3D then translated into 2D and finally executed in the real environment. Miscommunications and misunderstandings are common: Clients typically don’t understand building plans, and the project is always in a state of flux as designs are revised and building progresses. Using one platform like AR or VR from design to construction can help everyone involved visualize the final product.

  1. Training
    1. Onboarding/initial training as well as continuous training of employees (when new equipment is installed, a new problem encountered, a change in process)
    2. Hands-on, on-the-job, just-in-time training through step-by-step instructions, AR content, or a remote teacher (faster learning, lasting results, fewer errors)
    3. Recording training videos on real jobs by experienced workers; capturing best practices
    4. AR/VR simulations of different training scenarios
    5. Reduces training requirements (industry job certifications are costly)

When updates are made to a factory and new equipment is installed, both new and seasoned workers need to learn how to operate it. The vendor might supply a training video or send personnel to the factory to conduct the training, but AR/VR instructions and simulations have been found to be a more effective medium for learning than lectures or demonstrations. Training isn’t just time-consuming; it’s also expensive: For instance, training an airplane pilot can cost $1,500 an hour due to costly on-plane training and full-motion simulations. VR can greatly reduce these costs. Any business might also use VR to onboard new employees, introducing them to the company culture and basic procedures.

  1. Sales
    1. Improving customer service by helping customers visualize designs; enabling them to remotely view or virtually experience products and services; providing contactless payments, proof of service, and remote access to an in-store salesperson
    2. Creating a more personalized customer experience to increase customer satisfaction and close more sales (using wearable tech to view client information at the point of sale or service)
    3. Giving customers behind-the-scenes access by streaming video from a job or allowing them to shop remotely (builds trust, shorter sales process, reduces returns)
    4. Innovative marketing, advertising and customer engagement strategies
    5. Using AR/VR in the sales pitch; bringing the design or sales pitch to the customer
    6. Becomes a major differentiator for the business (can market use of the tech to improve brand reputation, revamp company image, compete, and attract new business)

AR and VR allow for new, convenient, and highly persuasive shopping opportunities: A car buyer could virtually test drive a vehicle from his living room or go to a dealership and view different vehicle options using AR glasses. A homeowner could picture how her new kitchen will look before renovation begins, or watch on as the HVAC worker fixes the air conditioner in her home from her desk at work. A homebuyer could go on virtual home tours or have the architect create a VR experience of a house design for him to view, allowing for faster input and approval.

  1. Safety
    1. A big part of improving safety in the workplace is making sure workers do things correctly and follow proper procedures (providing guidance via a remote expert or instructions in the worker’s FOV.) In the case of consumer product manufacturing, eliminating errors improves consumer safety (prevents recalls)
    2. Wearable sensors: Come in a variety of shapes and sizes, are contained in a variety of form factors (bracelets, patches, watches, clothing items, work gear,) and track a wide range of metrics that influence the user’s safety on the job
    3. Tracking biometrics, ergonomics, and environmental conditions; analyzing the collected data (in real time;) and alerting workers when risk levels are reached via wearable devices (text or haptic alerts)
    4. Behavior modification: Gaining insight from wearable sensor data to influence behavior (ex. giving feedback or sending haptic notifications to teach workers to lift correctly and safely;) using exoskeletons or AR to lessen the physical and cognitive stress of a job
    5. Efficient workforce management: Tracking employees (their location, health factors like fatigue and motion, exposure) to keep them out of hazardous areas, optimize shift times, and make sure proper PPE is worn and tasks are performed safely from an ergonomics perspective

Tracking sleep and preventing sleep-deprived workers from operating vehicles or heavy machinery; using a wearable GPS tracker to make sure employees have the proper paperwork to work in different areas on a job site; and analyzing machine data to predict and alert workers when a piece of equipment is going to malfunction.

(See Using Wearable Tech for Workplace Safety and 3 Great Use Cases of Wearables for EHS)

 

About EWTS Fall 2017:

The Fall Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit 2017 taking place October 18-19, 2017 in Boston, MA is the leading event for wearable technology in enterprise. It is also the only true enterprise event in the wearables space, with the speakers and audience members hailing from top enterprise organizations across the industry spectrum. Consisting of real-world case studies, engaging workshops, and expert-led panel discussions on such topics as enterprise applications for Augmented and Virtual Reality, head-mounted displays, and body-worn devices, plus key challenges, best practices, and more; EWTS is the best opportunity for you to hear and learn from those organizations who have successfully utilized wearables in their operations. 

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