Thursday, Aug 14 2014

The Problems with Wearable Technology

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The Problem with Wearable Technology

 

Wearable tech is a relative newcomer to the technology landscape. Not too long ago, gadgets like Google Glass and the Pebble Smartwatch belonged in the realm of science fiction — but today, wearable technology is a fledgling reality. And it’s poised to have a significant impact on the business world.

While wearables were initially introduced as consumer technology, the focus is shifting toward enterprise applications. In fact, industry experts say it’s not a matter of if wearables will become part of the corporate culture, but when. But like any new technology, there are some issues surrounding wearables that CIOs and IT departments should be aware of in order to prepare for the entry of these smart gadgets into the workplace.

Here are some of the most common pitfalls to watch for involving enterprise wearables:

Wearable technology is not well defined

In modern terms, the latest crop of wearable tech devices is still in its infancy — and no one knows exactly what constitutes a wearable. Most personal wearables are centered around fitness or health, and often have connectivity with a mobile application. Devices that are considered enterprise wearables are largely smartglasses and smartwatches.

But new gadgets and categories are emerging, and there is no set definition for wearable technology. This can be problematic for CIOs and IT departments, especially when it comes to defining workplace policies for wearables, if you’re not sure what those policies should apply to.

Smart gadgets suffer from development challenges

As a relatively new technology, wearables face some serious concerns that impact performance and user experience. Some of these challenges, particularly for smartwatches and smartglasses, include:

  • Energy inefficiency for color displays
  • Insufficient Internet connectivity, often creating the need for companion devices
  • Poor battery life
  • A lack of standards for waterproofing charging connectors
  • Privacy and security concerns over personal data collection
  • Awkward design issues

These challenges could make it difficult to integrate wearables into an enterprise environment, particularly the connectivity and security concerns.

No standardized platform for wearable tech

Much like smartphones and tablets, the wearables industry is working without standardized platforms. There are also no regulatory standards in place for wearable tech, bringing challenges for IT departments when it comes to measuring and reporting from a regulatory perspective.

Ideally, wearable software should be hardware-agnostic. Greater collaboration between wearable designers and enterprise developers could lead to platform standardization and across-the-board success — but for now, software systems for wearables are diverse and fragmented.

IT departments have a smaller margin of error

The enterprise wearables industry brings some unique potential pitfalls to IT, especially for rolling out new wearable tech. Smartglasses in particular come with different user experience and design requirements, and many IT departments have no prior exposure to working within these requirements.

In addition, overreaching is a common problem for wearable rollouts — IT departments take on too much, too soon, on the strength of the marketing hype surrounding many of these hot new gadgets. The best strategy is a controlled, small-scale first deployment to test the waters before taking wearables company-wide.

Wearables and legacy systems don’t mesh

The majority of new technologies are designed for integration with legacy systems. This is not so with wearables. Organizations may introduce wearable tech expecting to see productivity gains, only to discover that the utility of wearables relies on tapping into other corporate systems — and there is no easy way to bridge the two.

One of the largest stumbling blocks with wearable integration is data input. Legacy systems are generally built to accept keyed data, but most wearables don’t have keyboard inputs. Instead, they rely on voice or touch input that doesn’t translate to the legacy infrastructure.

The gains made possible by wearable tech are not sufficient to support the expense of replacing existing systems. Instead, CIOs and IT departments need to find a way to bridge wearables with legacy infrastructures in order to derive enterprise value from introducing these new devices to the workplace.

For more on how wearables and other new technologies can fit into your company structure, contact the IT experts at The Armada Group today.

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