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Mobile Matters: Wearable Technology for Business

|  June 12, 2014

The size war continues — and now it’s so small we can wear it. Wearable devices to replace mobile phones, tablets and laptops are becoming more popular and gaining market share in the gadget manufacturing sector of the economy. We no longer need to imagine wearing a phone on our arm or viewing Internet content through a pair of glasses like a Mission: Impossible spy. Technologies such as Google Glass and iWatch are an affordable reality.

I love this stuff. I can walk down a street and view a map on my glasses pointing me to my favorite Starbucks or what sites to see on a walking tour of an unknown destination. This is cool stuff for gadget geeks, but how can these technologies be applied in the service sector and what factors might limit companies’ adoption initiatives?

Being a service technician in any industry is a tough gig. You’re constantly rushing from one account to another, dragging around equipment, a mobile phone, service scanning devices and other technology-related equipment. It can be frustrating and cumbersome. I always welcomed any device that might combine functions of more than one piece of equipment or replace something that might be larger or heavier. Even a few pounds makes a considerable psychological impact to an overburdened service staff.

There are several devices coming to market that might benefit the service industries’ tool repertoire. Imagine:

  • wearing a set of glasses that permits you to transmit what you’re seeing back to another technical advisor;
  • being able to arrive at an unknown account to cover an emergency for another service technician and having the information right in front of your eyes; and
  • instantaneously transmitting site maps, historical information, device placements or anything else your office databases might contain to the technician at the account and then back to the supervisor at the office.

Each of these would be an amazing step for customer service and significantly reduce the stress of service staff. The advent of Google Glass — and even, to some extent, the current version of the iWatch — could make these dreams a reality. The technology exists to make your field service staff merely an extension of the mothership, but there’s still a ways to go from the practical side.

Battery life is one of the biggest drawbacks. Although nanotechnology has permitted us to manufacture devices that are supersmall and lightweight, our battery technology and charging systems are still catching up. Manufacturers are working on combinations of solar, kinetic and inductive charging to boost battery life on devices that are running high-definition screens and wireless transmitting devices such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Other problems garnering media attention are concerns about client privacy. Devices such as Google Glass are transmitting in a multidirectional format and are nondiscriminatory, which means the account you’re servicing and the people you might inadvertently be recording might not want their information transmitted across the Internet for any hacker to intercept.
I’m sure the gadget gurus will find answers to some of these problems during the next few years, and soon you’ll be cyber-hunting for pests in the next state through your technicians’ eyes. The possibilities are endless. pmp

You can reach Stanbridge, a PMP and longtime technology columnist, at dean@directlinesales.com.

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