A population very likely to get a lot out of wearables might surprise you. Blue collar workers. Think about it. Imagine a maintenance worker in a factory. What kinds of activities might she need a computer for? Searching for help in a database, pulling up wiring diagrams, order a part (before forgetting what the model number is), contacting a co-worker for assistance, and on and on. But with both hands stuck into the guts of a machine, pulling out the tablet is not feasible or safe. On the other hand, a speech-activated UI on her smartwatch would be perfect. Much more important, and possibly life saving, than anything I can do on my consumer model. It could also facilitate filling out those annoying checklists, reducing the risk of bored or disengaged workers taking shortcuts on them. How about a laser pointer or level that doesn’t need to be pulled out a pocket or balanced on the machine?
This article from the October Fortune describes several great examples. How about a pair of safety glasses with camera, microphone, speaker, or even an unobtrusive display? There is already one available from XOEye Technologies. You could have emergency signals for workers entering confined spaces or going deep into mines or ocean depths. What about a pair of smart gloves that can guide the worker in a sensitive assembly task? The fastener is now attached with just the right torque.
Assemble that brain trust of gray-haired experts to help, with the aid of technology, less experienced employees in the field. The younger workers wear special safety glasses equipped with a camera, microphone, speaker, detachable flash drive, and wireless antenna.
One detail that makes the design of blue-collar wearables more powerful is that fashion, while still relevant, is not the critical constraint it is with consumer electronics. So the systems can be built to really focus on safety and effectiveness for the work activities.
Image credit: Alfred T Palmer