Wearable technology: your next great workforce tool.

Author:Grifoni, Gabe

Wearables can streamline the multitude of devices used as well. For instance, wrist wearables with push-to-talk, touchscreen, pick and place software and a Bluetooth scanner could replace walkie talkies, handhelds and scanners all in one cost effective package. Wearable technology has the opportunity to change the way we work. Not only do wearable devices free up hands, allowing workers to do their jobs more efficiently and unencumbered by additional handheld devices, but they also bring big improvements to safety on the job. Additionally, embedded sensors and software built into wearables will provide business owners, warehouse managers, construction site supervisors and hospitality administrators with valuable data on employees ranging from health statistics, to location and workflow patterns, among other things--allowing them to better manage their teams and streamline operations through data analysis.

Enhancing safety and efficiency in warehouses starts with updating current technology on the job. Most devices in use today are outdated, bulky and expensive. Laptops, tablets, handheld scanners and other devices require the use of both hands and constantly picking things up takes away time from the job, slowing down workers. This is a major problem that wearables solve. Instead of having to pick up or put down devices, the information you need is right in front of your eyes in your visor, in your gloves, up your sleeve or any combination of the three. Experiments like Google Glass and Oculus Rift sparked the initial possibilities of what wearables could bring through visual overlays and virtual workplaces. Since then, wearables have moved to almost all parts of the body.

Warehouse and distribution centers can benefit greatly from wrist worn and glasses-style devices, guiding workers around floors with directional arrows to quickly arrive at their destination and using wrist wear for input. Google Glass has already been beta tested in many vertical markets, and while the hardware might not be quite ready for prime time, it's a good start and Google has gone back to the drawing board for a revamp. Wrist wear is already on the market and a limited number of warehouses are currently engaged in beta tests.

Devices that run Android or other operating systems are already powerful enough to replace traditional desktops with smartphone and tablets. These devices are making their ways onto warehouse floors and wearables are already starting to...

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