I have had a Fitbit One since 2013, and I wear it every day. Having it on helps me remember to keep moving throughout the day, and to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Lots of people in my office have activity trackers too, and it’s nice to see my coworkers up and about throughout the day, encouraging each other to “get those steps!” But for now, in many offices, that’s about as enterprise as wearables get.
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Wearables are especially interesting in healthcare settings for keeping track of patients’ vital signs and the locations of on-the-go staff members. There are other use cases for wearables, but those are still niche. Smartglasses, for example, might be perfect for a repair tech working on an unfamiliar machine. Instead of stopping to flip through a manual or look something up on a smartphone, he can view an online manual right in his field of vision. But if someone in the office were to bring his smartglasses in to use for work, I’m certain he would drive everyone nuts. The cube farm just isn’t the place to broadcast your Google searches or dictate emails.
Still, as users adopt these devices and developers build applications for them, wearables could become enterprise staples. It’s that possibility that makes it important for IT administrators to know what wearables can do today. Most wearables are tethered to smartphones, which means they don’t introduce many new security issues (although Google Glass can record and photograph people without them knowing). But it’s still a good idea to include them in mobile management and acceptable use policies. That way workers know what they can and can’t do with their devices, and IT has a leg up on wearables if there’s ever a tsunami-level wave of adoption.
This post originally appeared in the handbook Why IT Should Watch Out for Wearables.