We’ve entered another new era in technology – and this time, you can wear it.

Maybe it’s a pair of Google glasses that feature a computer with a small LED display. It is voice activated, and users can scroll through menus to take photos, shoot videos, upload files, search the web, check email, and more.

Or maybe it’s a baseball cap equipped with sensors to detect driver awareness. This device alerts your long-distance truckers when they approach a state of “micro sleep,” in order to prevent fatigue-related accidents.

The list goes on. Various studies estimate that within five years, the wearable technology business could mushroom into a $42 billion industry.

What do you need to know as you begin educating your workforce in this up-and-coming area?

The Pros and Cons

Wearable technology has blurred the lines a bit between the human body and technology. Consider this: At Epicenter, a think tank known as Stockholm’s House of Innovation, about 20 percent of the 250 employees have had near-field communication (NFC) chips implanted under the skin in their hands, thus eliminating the need for key fobs or electronic entry cards.

As the wearable technology sector develops, employers will be able to acquire more and more information about their employees. Then the debate becomes: Who really owns this intangible property known as “life data?v”

  • The promise of data-driven efficiency to monitor employee activity and improve productivity can be alluring, but it may come at a cost: your employees’ privacy. As noted by the University of London’s Charles Brauer, “It started with Big Data discussions around gathering business insights and not having the human accounted for in that data puzzle. Wearable tech makes the workforce visible in that.”
  • A key trend is companies using wearable devices to track employee health. Employers distribute fitness monitors to keep tabs on employees’ activity levels, as part of corporate wellness programs. This data can then be tied to health insurance or other incentive programs to reduce costs. In 2013, approximately 2,000 companies worldwide offered their workers fitness trackers. In 2014, this number skyrocketed to 10,000. It is anticipated that, by the end of 2016, most companies with more than 500 employees will offer fitness trackers.
  • While wearable technology can bring significant benefits, it also comes with challenges. As devices gather increasing volumes of personal and biometric data, gadgets don’t always have rigorous encryption or other protections to safeguard privacy. This could leave companies exposed to data leaks or threats. It also may create oppressive work environments, if wearable tech is perceived as a surveillance tool versus something to enhance productivity or performance.

There will always be questions about the use of wearable technology at work as it applies to your business and your staff. For the latest market intelligence and resources to address these issues, consider partnering with PrideStaff Fresno. We can work with you to build and develop an industry-leading workforce that is ready to take technical challenges head on. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.

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