3 wearable predictions that will help define the technology

What is wearable technology, really?

The definition of what wearables are and how they will fit into society varies from person to person. While some believe them to be ill-advised smartphone replacements, others see it differently. Expecting smartwatches or even headsets to perform all of the same tasks as a traditional touchscreen device is outlandish, to say the least. Those who understand this see a world where wearables assist smartphones and tablets rather than compete with them directly. This had led to some far more interesting predictions for how things will look down the line rather than just believing wearables to be the next wave of mobility. While it's true that wearables are the future, that future is likely to look different that compared to what some people might expect.

Wearables will have incredible applications both in the personal and professional sphere. With that in mind, it will be critical to remember that software will play an important role in this evolution. These new devices will have to work with smartphone and tablet applications to realize their inherent capabilities.

Here are three predictions that present a better idea of how wearables are anticipated to succeed:

1) Fitness sensors will see high adoption rates
Wearables have already been appearing on the market. Exercise monitors made to track user health and performance have proven to be quite popular – and the concept behind this technology has not even lived up to its full potential yet.

Healthcare stands to be significantly disrupted by the continued growth of wearable tech, and fitness bands are just the beginning. According to ZDNet contributor David Gewirtz, sensor-based devices will branch out to include the likes of injection-delivering patches and socks that can be used to keep track of individuals with Alzheimer's. 

What's more, the sports world can also have great use for wearables – namely in professional football. Gewirtz said it will be possible for helmets to be outfitted with sensors that can measure impact, potentially helping to prevent brain damage.

2) Body movement, heat may power wearables
Another point that opponents of wearables make is that many of these devices are small and hard to power. Battery life is an ongoing struggle for millions of smartphone users – a problem that could theoretically be worsened by wearables.

But according to CloudTweaks contributor Daniel Price, wearable technology could possibly be powered by the movement and heat of the human body

"The biggest obstacle to the commercialization of wearable devices is related to problems with power supplies," said KAIST professor Cho Byung-Jin to Price. "So, a battery of any wearable device is required to be frequently replaced at the moment. And the battery itself is heavy. However, it is now possible to utilize wearable devices semi-permanently using this thermoelectric module, because it generates electricity with body temperature".

This kind of technology could help wearables to stay functional for longer periods of time than already thought – effectively silencing naysayers on the battery front. This will be especially advantageous in industries like trucking, where wearables can be of great convenience but long hours and constant driving could prevent regular charging.

3) Wearables will streamline business transactions
Paying for goods and services got a little more convenient  when debit cards started to appear frequently. But wearable tech stands to streamline the process even further. Digital wallets are a hot topic these days as more mobile devices are outfitted with the chips that will make them possible.

There is more to it than just easy payment, however. According to TMCnet contributor Michael Guta, there are a bevy of other functions that will be possible through digital wallets and their potential connection to wearables.

"[B]usinesses wait patiently for the technology that will, once and for all, eradicate cash from the market place," Guta wrote. "The end might be here sooner than later, because new technologies are targeting all transactions aggressively and the electronic payment industry is trying hard to displace cash with a wide range of solutions … The reason digital wallets can realistically displace cash is because the technology can deliver a wide range of value added services with location, social features and identity management in one small device."

This will allow retail outlets to implement speedy payment options – the kinds that will keep lines shorter and productivity up. This can also be used on the festival circuit, as demonstrated at this year's Lollapalooza. The massive concert event put a cashless pay system in place that helped to keep people away from the beer tent and closer to the bands they love.

Wearable technology needs custom mobile app development
While wearables are likely to have limitless potential for businesses in the future, none of it will be possible to experience without the right software. For enterprises, custom software solutions are going to be critical when finding new ways in which wearables will be advantageous. Because these devices are not expected to be a direct challenger to smartphones and tablets, these two brands of mobility will have to work together via applications.

The path toward these programs will be different for every company that pursues them. Some organizations may have to outsource development, while others would prefer to bring new staffers on board that can help them continuously.

Whatever option is ultimately chosen, On3 has the right expertise for the job. Our trained team of programmers can handle cross platform app development as well as native software for iOS and Android alike. To boot, we have a wide range of resources that allow us to help provide full-time employees for any business that wants to make mobile engagement a permanent goal in-house. Having a programmer who understands the intricacies of a specific company can be a valuable asset down the line as wearables move further into the lives of employees and customers.

Wearables are on the way
While many people are doubtful, wearable technology is undoubtedly on the way for millions of people around the world. This is an especially big opportunity for businesses, who can use these tools to improve productivity and employee engagement alike. But in order for wearables to live up to their potential, the companies that use them will need to seek out custom software development.

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Mobility playing an increasing role in health and wellness

There are very few limitations regarding what mobile technology is capable of. Advancements in apps, smartphones and wearables have had a major impact on many sectors and areas of study – including the world of health. Given that modern devices are able to process and retain an incredible amount of data, those who need to monitor their vitals – among other things – are in an interesting position of progress. 

Tracking one's health is an important and difficult task. But mobile software and wearable technology are developing in ways that can not only be of great value to the user, but also the companies that they deal with in the process. Healthcare organizations of all varieties should be interested in how they can leverage modern mobile devices and custom software solutions in their quest to improve their relationships with patients and customers.

Apps, wearables can be used to lower insurance rates
The obvious use for wearables in medicine comes in the form of direct healthcare. Doctors can get a better idea of how their patients are doing, many times without the need for them to be in the same room. But other industries stand to gain a significant amount of progress from wearables – such as health insurance providers.

"Many people are choosing to wear health related wearables such as the Jawbone UP or the Fitbit Flex in order to track their steps, sleep and such," wrote ZDNet contributor Adrian Kingsley-Hughes. "But now companies are using them to offer employee and their families cheaper health insurance."

Wearables and sports are a perfect pair
Few people rely on their well-being and physique to make a living in the ways that athletes do. Those organizations that are involved in the sports world stand to gain a significant amount of productivity from an in-depth view of how team members are performing. In fact, sports professionals are already being tapped by companies like Apple in an attempt to put some big names behind wearable technology. Wearables have received a lot of criticism for a perceived lack of practical applications. Showing how they can be leveraged by big-name athletes could be a game changer, according to Forbes contributor Maury Brown.

Custom software development helps spread information
Wearables do not need to be a part of the equation in order for healthcare to benefit from mobile technology. When major disease outbreaks occur like the recent Ebola epidemic, it can be difficult to understand just how these illnesses are spreading and affecting surrounding areas. According to InformationWeek contributor Neil Polwart, mobile application development could help Center for Disease Control officials track and monitor outbreaks – something that can be especially difficult to do when those affected by illness slip out of quarantined areas.

Successes along these lines could spur a greater acceptance of mobile health tools all over the world.

"As mobile technology takes a more prominent role within our healthcare systems and the ability to manage and track one's own wellness shapes the mHealth marketplace, it is fair to question how these technologies can help in times of international crisis," Polwart wrote.

But with innovative use cases like what could potentially happen with Ebola, this technology is likely to be commonplace in the next couple of years.

Changing the world through mobile healthcare
Just like many other areas and industries, healthcare and other wellness-related fields and professions can be vastly benefited by the use of mobile devices and programs. But what needs to be realized is that initiatives of this nature will inherently require custom software solutions in order to be of any use. The potential for change is there, but the right applications are going to be critical.

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Wearable technology on the brink of revolution

Within the last decade, there has been an incredible change in mobile technology. With the arrival of devices like the iPhone and the Droid, people began to realize that smartphones could be easily leveraged to complete tasks in their personal and professional lives. While there were naysayers initially to the worth of these machines in the workplace, over the years they have generally silenced as more people find that smartphones and tablets are inherently useful.

There are some parallels in the journey of the smartphone and another, still-arriving device – the wearable. Wearable technology has been a subject of heavy debate, with many people believing that these tools are limited in function and aesthetics and have no practical value.

"Anyone would be hard-pressed to find a more bipolar consumer market than wearable technology," wrote Tech Cocktail contributor Hilary Smith. "Devices like Google Glass and smartwatches tap into the most idealistic parts of our imagination when it comes to picturing impossible technologies that resemble blockbuster sci-fi films. Yet, much like hovercars or personal jetpacks, the final products tend to be met with mixed emotions, leaving many companies wondering if such moonshot technologies are even worth their time."

But as wearables become better understood, a greater number of people are realizing that, even if they can't use them at home for anything yet, they can still be valuable on-the-job assets. This is generally considered to be the path that wearables will take to mainstream acceptance. With so many potential uses in the workplace – especially in sectors that could benefit from hands-free displays – it is expected that tools like Google Glass and smartwatches will begin to influence the personal habits of their users.

Wearable technology is on the cusp of a revolutionary phase. Much like smartphones, it is expected to make huge waves in enterprises all over the world. But in order for their full potential to be unlocked, they are going to require custom software solutions – most likely for the smartphones and tablets that they are likely to assist.

Wearables will help, not replace traditional touchscreens
One of the biggest arguments against wearable technology is that it is not capable of the same things that smartphones and tablets are. But if that was the reason that these tools are coming to market – in an attempt to succeed current smart technology – then what would the point be? We already have touchscreen tools that do a number of things, why do we need another tool?

The answer is that, while there is a lot that smartphones and tablets are capable of, they still have their limitations. In professions like construction and healthcare, where a great deal of work needs to be completed by hand, touchscreens as we know them can be cumbersome to leverage consistently. This is why devices like Google Glass, with their hands-free interfaces, can be of such great value. There is a lot of information that doctors, for example, need to have access to – even when they are in the middle of performing an operation.

"In these environments, information and other essential data is of the utmost importance – it can often be the difference between life and death," wrote CloudTweaks contributor Daniel Price. "Yet, at the same time, taking out your phone to check on the status of a team member, important piece of equipment or a medical supply is simply not an option. Hands-free smart watches have the ability to present all this crucial information without the person in question having to leave their position or even miss a beat."

Wearable tech benefits felt across all industries
The powers of wearable technology are not strictly applicable to healthcare. There are many ways in which smartwatches and headset displays can be integrated into the common practices of all professions. This will be especially true as personal use becomes more common, as businesses stand to gain a lot from the use of wearables amongst their customers.

One area where this will be especially true is in retail. The world has already seen that it is possible to pay for transactions with an app or a chip implanted in a smartphone, but this process can become even more streamlined through the use of a smartwatch. Smith uses the company PayPal as an example of how this kind of technology – and its potential innovations – can create new opportunities:

"PayPal and participating businesses draw in new users by providing monetary promotions and coupons that are only available when paying through the mobile system," Smith wrote. "As wearables make electronic wallets more mainstream, a new marketing channel opens, allowing content to be delivered literally to consumer wallets when they go to pay for products. For marketing, this means a total elimination of human error when remembering coupons and sales."

Smith also said that this kind of advantage can be experienced through proximity marketing. If a customer has an app for a store on their phone, then notifications will be able to display on, say, their smartwatch as they walk around a retail location. This could come in the form of sale alerts or special offers that trigger only when physically close to a certain product or section.

Wearable tech is already here to stay
The next wave of mobility has been identified and is already an inevitability. Wearable technology is going to disrupt the workplace in major ways – both on the consumer and employee end of the equation. While there are those who believe that wearables are a flash-in-the-pan fad, it should be noted that smartphones struggled to be taken seriously at first – according to Smith, even Steve Jobs did not see the potential for touchscreens when he was first made aware of them in the '80s.

But in order for these tools to be truly effective, custom software development is going to be critical. Often, wearables will not be a primary device, but rather an accent to existing smartphones and tablets, helping to extend the functionality of the touchscreen into exciting new frontiers.

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Small businesses need to embrace mobility properly, part 2

Mobile applications are beginning to become a requirement for all businesses, regardless of size or function. The benefits that they can offer in the way of workplace productivity and customer engagement are storied and represent a new theme in enterprise – one that defines success in part by how effective custom software solutions are on touchscreen devices.

But while there is a need for companies – especially growing ones – to have these assets, there is an even greater importance being placed on proper development approaches. Over or underestimating the reach that these programs will have and on what devices they will be accessed can have disastrous consequences, including frustrated workers and lost business.

In the first part of this series, we discussed how mobile apps are increasing in popularity. In this segment, we’ll talk more about design practices and choosing the right development for the devices belonging to the target audience.

Native and cross platform development best in different situations
While MarkertingProfs contributor Bob Moul uses the term “native app” to describe powerful software, it should be noted that the application just needs to feel like it has been designed to run on an individual’s chosen device, be it Apple or Android. Cross platform app development, when done correctly, can be a time-saving, cost-effective way for small businesses to improve their mobile presence.

In many situations, however, a company’s employees or customers may overwhelmingly favor one breed of device over another. If a small business, for example, is made up entirely of iPhone users, then worrying about cross platform availability is going to be a moot point – not to mention a waste of time. In this case, focusing solely on iOS app development will be the most logical move.

When operating with a limited number of resources, an organization should make sure they are focusing in on specifics of this nature. Engaging in app development will involve determining what devices are going to need to run the software. Taking a needlessly broad​ stroked approach can be just as counterproductive as alienating certain segments of the target audience.

“Small businesses, naturally, have comparatively small resources,” ZDNet stated on its website. “They need every single staff member to be as effective and efficient as possible to ensure they can compete with more established competitors. They need to use every trick and tool to outsmart the competition and to free their staff up from office-bound processes and spend as much time as possible servicing and selling to their customers.”

Small businesses need proper development
There is a need for all companies to have a mobile presence. Given how prevalent the medium is these days, ignoring it would be akin to thinking TV ads are a waste of money. Thanks to modern technology, this is more possible than ever to accomplish and can be incredibly beneficial to organizations that seek it out.

“Though larger organizations have greater resources available, they no longer have the upper hand where app optimization and mobile experience management are concerned,” Moul wrote. “Successful marketing strategies have proven themselves out, and app technology platforms are now well-established and available to a broad audience. You can keep up with the big brands in regards to mobile app performance.”

But while there needs to be a greater interest on the part of growing companies, this journey toward enabling both the workforce and the consumer base can easily be derailed by an inappropriate development strategy. Trying to focus efforts on too many or too few people can be draining on potentially limited resources and negate the desired effect of the project. By examining what platforms will need to be compatible, small businesses are sure to get the most out of their custom software development.

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Small businesses need to embrace mobility properly, part 1

Mobile technology has afforded some incredible advantages to everyday people. Touchscreen applications have changed the way that people work and communicate, making them perfect assets in the business world – both as employee tools and customer engagement resources.

But while some companies believe that they are too small to need or be benefited by custom software solutions, MarketingProfs contributor Bob Moul is one of the many people who believes thinks otherwise. Not only do growing enterprises need to engage their workers and clients in a mobile way, but they need to do it correctly. Leveraging a mobile website instead of an app, for example, is not going to have the same impact.

"Mobile apps frequently promote higher customer loyalty and user engagement levels than mobile websites do," Moul wrote. "You build a richer experience in a native app, and once users have downloaded it, you've captured their attention in an environment completely built around your brand experience."

Modern consumer technology is more advanced that ever before. With so much available to businesses operating today, regardless of size, there needs to be a push on the part of smaller enterprises to join the age of mobility in ways best suited to their capabilities. In the first half of this series, we'll examine the growing popularity of mobile apps in enterprises.

Mobile application demand, use growing
It is important to remember that people like using their smartphones to handle their daily activities. In the workplace, this may mean developing software that keeps track of company calendars and messaging systems, or even employs the use of the device's camera as a scanner in warehouse settings. The uses for these tools are seemingly endless – but don't stop within the confines of the office.

Customers can easily be engaged with the use of a mobile platform. Online shopping is one sector for which this has proven especially true. According to research conducted by mobile analytics firm Mobidia, 52 percent of mobile shoppers launched the same retailer-specific apps on their smartphones at least once a week. Even if they are not buying anything in a particular browsing session, this is akin to entering a certain store frequently just to see what's new or what could potentially be purchased at a later date. Deals and offers can be more easily presented through a mobile app that has a customer's undivided attention. This kind of exposure is critical in the digital age.

"Apps transport users into a virtual world," stated Moul. "Yet many of the most successful apps do so by also linking that virtual reality to something more tangible. Particularly in the retail space, companies are beginning to understand the value of connecting an app experience with activity in a brick-and-mortar store. Not only does it extend a retailer's brand across multiple domains, but it also helps keep consumers from getting diverted while shopping in a store by a competing brand appearing on their smartphones."

In the next part of this series, we'll talk about how custom software development methods need to be selected with care so as not to waste the resources of small business.

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Google Glass poised to disrupt the workplace

Naysayers might think it to be ugly and lacking practical application, but Google Glass is generating significant attention as an enterprise asset. While it may have some way to go as a consumer device, modern employees are looking at it as an answer to many long-standing problems in their respective fields.

"Wearable technology is an optimistic field," CloudTweaks posted on its website. "As innovative as it is, the Google Glass has a negative stigma, one that many associate with pomposity. Despite this, its host of features will eventually become completely normal to society. Wearable technology presents something more than just a gadget you can wear; it's the future of technology, bridging luxury with efficiency in one unobtrusive device."

While there are many specific reasons why Google Glass is useful in the workplace, it almost always boils down to the same basic need – smartphone functionality in a hands-free machine. Those professionals who have to work quickly or spend a great deal of time using their hands to complete tasks can certainly benefit from a tool like Glass, and forward-thinking organizations are already considering – if not experiencing first-hand – how it can be of unique assistance.

Businesses have to prepare themselves for the arrival of Google Glass in the workplace. This will not only involve adapting company policies to acknowledge the device, but also studying how best it can be used and seeking out custom software solutions that will help it perform effectively.

Wearables won't replace smartphones
One of the biggest arguments against assets like Glass is that it can't do all of the things a smartphone or tablet can. While that may be the case, the opposite is also true. Google Glass's biggest selling point is its ability to augment reality, allowing advanced displays to present information in new ways. One of the most prominent examples of this is in the healthcare industry, where important data can be instantly streamed to surgeons during operations. This can keep them connected to vitals and other info that they normally would have had to stop and obtain.

"Hands-free access to information while multi-tasking makes Glass a perfect fit for healthcare, where the risk of contamination or clerical errors could spell disaster," wrote NetworkWorld contributor Colin Neagle. "That's why the healthcare industry has already started to integrate Glass into its operations. Physicians in one Boston hospital are using the devices during routine checkups and examinations, while surgeons have put them to use for operations."

Simply put, smartphones and wearables are very different tools. Their uses are not identical, and it will be this realization that helps to drive further adoptions of assets like Google Glass in the workplace.

Custom software development will be key
But just like the touchscreen devices that came before them, wearables alone will not foster innovation if they are not supported by effective software. This is especially true considering that wearables like smartwatches do not possess the same kind of computing power as an iPhone, for example, or even Google Glass – which will definitely require its own applications to be of true value.

But while this all might sound complicated and daunting, it is nothing to shy away from. Many enterprises hit the snooze button when smartphones started appearing in the workplace, and as a result companies are still trying to navigate the mobile landscape. Mobility is very much a necessary thing for businesses to embrace, and that means taking as early of a look as possible at how these tools can be leveraged to meet an organization's goals.

A major part of this comes in the form of custom software development. In order to ensure that wearables are meeting the needs that they are adopted to address, companies are going to need individualized programs that are designed with their specific requirements in mind.

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Forget the mobile Web: Apps are here to stay

The age of mobility is in full swing. As more organizations attempt to engage both their customers and employees alike through their smartphones and tablets, they are finding that the mobile Web has some incredible shortcomings. Not only are there significant discrepancies in mobile browsers and screen sizes that can create disjointed experiences, but mobile websites do not have access to all of the features – camera, GPS, etc. – that make these devices such useful tools.

Modern companies have to put mobile first in their thinking. They have to be ready and able to identify actions that can be simplified by an application and pursue custom software solutions that will be of assistance. The mobile Web, and even applications made available in consumer app stores, are generally unfit for the workplace and must be treated as such.

"We stand at the threshold of a mobile apps revolution that has the power to change the way we do business, transforming both the external customer experience of the organization and the way business units work internally and with partners," wrote TMCnet contributor Suhas Uliyar

This is the kind of position that enterprises will want to put themselves in – one that will prime them to be considered leaders in their fields thanks to innovative uses of mobile apps. But this end-game won't come without the right mindset and resources. This may require outsourcing software development.

Mobile app deployment on the rise
More organizations are realizing that in order to stay competitive and relevant, they have to pursue custom software development. According to a study recently conducted by Good Technology, mobile enterprise application activations have increased by 20 percent since the first quarter of 2014. This is a trend that is not likely to taper off anytime soon. 

"The report revealed that document-editing apps have become the most widely used mobile business apps, followed by apps for customer relationship management and business intelligence," wrote CFO contributor Iris Dorbain of the Good Technology research. "The increase in activations of secure instant messaging apps during the quarter was also significant. About a quarter of the apps activated were custom built."

While there are some businesses that believe they can get by on the solutions they can find in a consumer app store, this is not an advisable idea. The 25 percent of mobile software that was custom built is more likely to be secure and tailor-made to a company's exact needs. No two offices are the same, and picking an app that attempts to meet the requirements of many different enterprises will definitely be lacking in certain areas.

Custom architectures needed
Embracing mobility in the workplace is about more than letting workers run free with their devices, it is about creating a coherent strategy that addresses the many issues surrounding smartphone and tablet use in enterprise. For one, this will not include the mobile Web, which has proven time and again to be inherently ineffective.

But there must also be a push away from one-size-fits-all applications that do not effectively address the nuances of specific companies. In order to step ahead of the competition and establish clear leadership in a particular field, custom software solutions are going to be imperative. 

"Mobile-centric strategies are the future of the enterprise; capable of transformations we are only just becoming aware of," Uliyar stated. "As businesses realize the importance of leveraging mobile platforms that help them simplify enterprise mobility – effectively addressing the challenges around integration, security and scalability while enhancing user convenience – we will see a blossoming of innovation that transforms how businesses work, in the process creating new global leaders."

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3 industries that are poised to embrace wearable technology

Wearable technology is getting a bad rap. Many people, hung up on the lack of aesthetic appeal that current wearables possess, believe tools like Google Glass or smartwatches to be novelties with no practical application. But for a certain few industries, wearables are already generating a considerable buzz.

Part of the problem that wearables are having is that there have not been enough examples of how they can overcome long-standing problems. While this might take a little longer in the consumer sphere, there are several professions that are already examining how these tools can be used to circumvent obstacles once thought to be impassible.

But the machines alone are not going to drive innovation. Those organizations that are exploring how wearables can be leveraged in specific ways are going to have to invest in the custom software solutions that will support them effectively.

Here are three industries where wearable technology is already being considered a game-changer:

1) Healthcare
When conversing one-on-one, it can be frustrating when someone pulls out their phone – even when what they need it for is time-sensitive and mission-critical. One area of business that has felt this particular sting is healthcare. Workers need to be attentive to customers, but may also be required to perform many of their tasks on a mobile device – often simultaneously. This is why Forbes contributor Michael DeFranco believes wearables will be a saving grace, of sorts.

"These are work environments where 'handsfree' has a very different meaning," he wrote. "If you've literally got your hands on something vitally important pulling out your phone is not an option. With smartwatches, communication remains possible even in these instances – it's just on a whole new level. You can be alerted to how far out a team member or necessary piece of equipment may be without needing to take yourself away from the task at hand. When you have a moment free you can also respond in an instant from the wearable – it keeps you moving."

2) Construction
Another profession where hands-free devices could come into significant use is construction. Workers can use headsets and watches to stay on task without having to look away for instructions and other information. Blueprints, for example, can be pulled up effortlessly. Directions can even be provided through the use of augmented reality, showing builders exactly what needs to go where in real time.

3) Manufacturing
Several sectors within the category are finding their own ways to apply wearable tech, but some of the most compelling are coming from the automotive sector. Companies like General Motors are looking to integrate tools like Google Glass into quality inspection and training processes. But others still are turning their attention to sensor-based devices. According to Plastics News, the company Plex is currently designing a vest that will monitor the vital signs of workers. This will let managers monitor body temperature and movement, allowing their work to be better analyzed and their health to be considered should employees start to overheat.

There are clearly many different ways in which wearable technology will benefit enterprises around the world. But in order for these goals to become realities, custom software development will be essential.

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Wearable technology holds potential for hands-on professions

Contrary to what some people might believe, the arrival of wearable tech will mean big things for many industries. There are a number of professions that are labor-intensive or require a great deal of information to be effortlessly accessible. Like other enterprise aspects, modern devices are being applied to long-standing problems in order to find new solutions. This is leading a large portion of people to believe that wearables will make their first big splash in the workplace before migrating successfully to the consumer sphere. 

One position that will undoubtedly be assisted by wearable tech is the field technician. According to a recent infographic produced by ServicePower, the use of headsets like Google Glass will be standard for repair people and construction workers thanks to advancements in augmented reality. Connecting these devices to M2M infrastructures can effectively save organizations 35 to 60 percent on their cost of service.

Wearable technology is going to have a massive but positive effect on the workplace. But in order to unlock the true potential of these tools, it is going to be essential to invest in custom software solutions. Organizations will have to invest time and effort into identifying the positions that can be innovated through wearables.

Rethinking wearables
The next wave of mobile devices has started to make itself known in big ways – and yet, there is so much that has yet to be realized. Part of this will come with a wider realization that wearables are not meant to replace smartphones and tablets, but augment them. This can come in the form of something as simple as displaying push notifications to the user in a more convenient way.

"In these early days of smart wristwear, most products have been focused primarily on input or output," wrote VentureBeat contributor Ross Rubin. "Input devices have included the Jawbone Up and Fitbit Flex. They're mostly alternatives to clip-style smart pedometers that collect information on measures such as steps and heart rate. Output devices have included the Pebble and Samsung Gear watches. For these products, notifications have been a clear part of their proposition. One can quickly glance at updates without having to pull out the rapidly growing displays of our smartphones that may be ticked away in pockets or purses."

This goes for headsets, as well. Emergency workers, for example, could use this technology to be instantly informed of a situation; ambulance drivers can be instantly directed to their next destination and have live feeds of traffic jams. ServicePower suggested that wearables, through this kind of augmented reality, will be able to lead service technicians directly to the problems occurring in a machine.

There is data all around us, even if we are not able to readily harness it in an effective way. Wearables stand to change that.

Wearable technology is inevitable
According to CIO contributor Al Sacco, successful organizations will be the ones who recognize how wearables can solve common problems. There is no longer a question regarding if they should be explored by enterprises. Yet, because there has been no significant precedent set for wearable use in the workplace, the road toward custom mobile app development may prove troubling.

"It's no longer a matter of 'if,' but 'when,' for wearables and the business," Sacco wrote. "A number of significant technological challenges, however, slow hardware and software evolution, and smart CIOs and their IT departments need to beware of the common pitfalls if they hope to realize the true business value of smartwatches, smartglasses and other wearables."

At On3, developers have the skills to navigate successful wearable development. Tasking in-house IT staffers with more responsibilities than they already have can weigh them down in this period of tech transition. On3 can help to take some of the stress out of staying ahead.

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How to embrace workplace mobility

Mobility is a hot-button issue in enterprise these days. Now that a great deal of business employees are used to operating advanced tools like smartphones, there is a greater push behind getting them into the workplace.

But how exactly does this occur? There are a number of moving parts involved in enabling staff members with modern mobility, and they all have to be considered. Forbidding devices outright is not the answer, as many workers can easily circumvent restrictive policies. Businesses are also preventing themselves from experiencing the benefits that these tools can bring.

The other extreme – letting employees manage themselves – can be just as dangerous. Commonly-downloaded applications that are made available for free are often weak in their coding, providing significant risk of data loss. Some even come bundled with malware, which is a whole other level of complication.

The solution to embracing workplace mobility lies in custom software solutions. By investing in an application that is safe in its design and meets the needs of staff members, companies can soldier on into the future without concern.

Addressing what can be improved
One of the first steps when considering custom applications is to observe how employees work. Are there any shortcuts that staffers like to take, or could be taking if they had an app in place? Mobility is about overcoming long-standing problems in new ways, not just about enabling them to be addressed remotely. 

Tantamount to handling this issue will be to bring employees in and consult with them about what can change and how best to act.

"A good start is to document all your business functions and processes you need covered," Marketing Management Partners director Anna Guethoff told ZDNet contributor Krishan Sharma. "You can then look into options that might address all of your needs with one integrated system. Or you may have to build your own by cherry picking individual services that integrate well with each other. Regardless of the solution, ensure that you allocate enough time training your team on how to use the new system and what rules and frameworks apply. You want your systems to support your work – not make it rocket science!"

Embracing the remote worker
As IT becomes further consumerized, a growing percentage of the workforce is finding that they prefer to work at home – or at least have the option to. Telecommuting is becoming less of a perk and more of a requirement, meaning that mobile solutions need to work effectively both inside and out of the physical office.

"While this still is a relatively small number, it is growing fast thanks to mobile technology and business processes that recognize that there are more downsides than upsides to keeping employees in the office all day," wrote TMCnet contributor Mae Kowalke. "Some analysts predict more than half of all workers soon will be working outside of the office soon."

Supporting these employees will be critical as time progresses. This shift is representative of a major cultural change in the way work is perceived. As more staff members begin to demand remote capabilities, retention of top talent will depend heavily on the success of mobility in the office.

Custom software development key to embracing mobility
Organizations have to trust their employees enough to let them work on their own devices, but they cannot take their hands completely off the wheel. With so many potentially-faulty solutions circulating for free around app stores, companies have to make sure that none of them end up handling enterprise information. The solution to this issue is to invest in custom mobile app development that will meet the needs of employees without risking the longevity of the organization itself.

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