Smart wearable devices to become an enterprise reality

by Sohini Bagchi    Jul 25, 2013

smart watch

Smart wearable devices are already in! With companies such as Google, Samsung, Sony and Apple chalking out their own versions of smartwatches and other wearable devices, the market is set to explode in the coming months. Currently, smartwatches come in fancy and sporty varieties with some basic functionalities and are designed for the consumer market. But experts believe these devices will make inroads in the enterprise as smartwatches and Google Glasses will impact the various aspects of business such as data collection, developing apps and even on their communication with customers. Many wonder whether employees will start wearing them in the workplaces soon!

According to many, enterprises will increasingly use mobile wearable devices such as watches, glasses, wrist bands and even jewelry (some say) as terminal, scanner and display devices for various applications. These can ve used for tracking and monitoring in warehouses, production, units, factories and logistics related industries. Growth will also come from sectors such as automobile, healthcare, sports and fitness as well as aviation that are expected to dominate the mobile wearable devices market in the coming years.

Booming smart wearables

Experts believe the smart wearable devices revolution is not too far off. For example, smartwatches are already becoming a rage in the consumer circle. Analysts have already predicted 2014 as a breakthrough year for smartwatches.The latest research from Canalys projects that smartwatches will ship more than 5 million units in 2014, a 900% increase from the number of units expected to ship this year. The research notes that many of the smartwatches released next year will have important features including “glanceable information, integration across sensors and hooks into web services” unlike its predecessors. The research estimates that over 330,000 smart watches were shipped in 2012, led by Sony and Motorola. With Pebble Technology joining force with Sony, over 500,000 units will be shipped this year.

Juniper research has also predicted the sales of mobile wearable devices and smart glasses to reach 70 million units by 2017, as against 15 million units this year. “The launch of augmented reality glasses by Google, Microsoft and Apple and several new entrants are expected to drive the market growth,” says a recent Juniper report.

There are optimistic predictions for the glasses market as well. IHS predicts a whopping the global market for smart glasses could amount to almost 10 million units from 2012 through 2016. According to IHS, shipments of smart glasses were just 50,000 in 2012. IHS thinks it could be as much as 6.6 million units in 2016.

Will these replace smartphones?

This is a question many in the industry are asking. As smartwatches are already in vogue, speculations run that they may replace the smartphones. For example, if the user can make and receive calls or send sms directly through their watches, they need not have to carry a phone. As Marshal Cohen, a senior analyst from NPD Group writes in his blog: “What you do on a phone or a tablet now, you can do most or all of those on a watch.”

However, in the near future these devices will not replace smartphones or any other mobile device due to its limited appeal. Angshuman Chakrabarti, Co-founder and CIO of Relaso Product suites explains, smart wearables are not independent devices, rather these are smartphone accessories. So you have to carry smartwatch along your smartphone everytime, which is cumbersome. Secondly, tablets and smartphones are already a booming market and is not likely to be replaced by other emerging devices in the coming days.

Bring your own ‘wearable’ device!

Some believe that smart wearable devices will trigger the Bring your own device (BYOD) trend as users will start bringing these devices at work. Debasis Nayak, CIO, Asian School Of Cyber Laws mentions that roll out of new gadgets and its enthusiastic adoption in the workplace means network administrators and IT heads need to be extra careful. They need to make sure their organization is not exposed to data security risks. Whatever the mobile device is, security is the key issue.

Experts believe in this new era of Bring your own X (BYOX) the new challenge for IT is to strike the balance between meeting the requirements of the consumerized employee, while at the same time keeping corporate data secure. And the same will be applicable for watches and glasses as well. Therefore, with improved hardware and software and other capabilities, all we need is, to wait and watch how businesses of the world can capitalize on this major market opportunity in the coming months.