Rebooting Underwear? Wearable Tech and the Future of IT
Like so many millions of people, I’ve been excitedly waiting on the edge of my seat for Apple’s announcement of the new iPhone (please don’t hate me – I also get just as excited with Android). The problem I have is that the iPhone rumour news is also cluttered with yet another Apple rumour – the iWatch. With millions of dedicated Apple fans, the iWatch is sure to be a big hit.
Of course, I can’t forget that Google’s Glass is out there, and now with the announcement of an Android OS specific for wearables, those devices are sure to grow. But wait – Microsoft announced its own fitness band. So three major companies are diving into the wearable tech arena. What does this all mean for IT and support for the new devices?
There’s a reason why Douglas Adams uses the phrase “Don’t Panic” in his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. Panicking doesn’t help solve any problem – it’s only benefit is to provide entertainment for those not panicking. Yes, it’s true, people are contemplating putting technology into underwear, but before you start the debate to support boxers or briefs, keep in mind that several devices are still in the prototype stage and aren’t even available for purchase. We have plenty of time before smart clothes hits the mainstream. It’s better to focus on devices that have already been released for purchase, and most of those have been watches and fitness bands.
Expect Wearable Tech to Evolve from the Smartphone
Thank goodness we don’t yet support wearable tech in clothes – imagine explaining how to reboot a pair of underwear! What we can expect is for there to be a natural evolution of technology with our smartphones as the central hub. As amazing as wearable tech can be, it’s difficult to put a lot of computing power into a shirt and still keep it comfortable. Even the smart watches that are now available for purchase have to be paired with smartphones to gain all the features. This means that for the immediate future, most of the devices to support will be smart watches and fitness bands.
Know Your Customers
Since smartphones will act as the central hub for wearable tech, that means you can predict the trends in your organization. If your company already has a large population of iOS devices, then it’s a safe bet that the iWatch, when released, will be a big hit. Given that Android is an open source operating system and can go on even more devices, the Google Wear version means there’s more difficulty in predicting the needs of Android support. It’s safe to assume that devices created directly by Google will be popular, but there’s a huge potential for how many different wearable devices can be built for Google Wear.
Understand the Business
With the possibility that Android will fit into almost anything, it’s up to IT to understand how the business works to predict how wearable technology will make an impact. Do you support tech in a hospital? Plan on fitness bands that monitor heart rate, temperature, and sleep cycles to take hold. And what about supporting a factory? There’s wearable devices to monitor posture and worker fatigue. You also have to consider there will be more to support than only the wearable tech. Does having more devices require you to upgrade your wifi network, or will each employee now be given a smartphone with a mobile data connection?
Data Management – #1 Priority for IT
As there will be more gadgets used by employees, there will be an exponential need to protect and manage the data collected and transmitted. Compounding the difficulty in data management will be the interlacing of personal information with the company data. An enterprise that monitors a worker for fatigue is essentially collecting health information. Who will ensure that data is secure and can only be used for the intended purposes? Wearable tech can start to bring up a lot of questions about individual privacy and, unfortunately, IT could be caught in the middle of legal issues simply because it has ownership of protecting the data.
It’s up to us!
Now that technology is moving beyond the smartphone, it’s up to us, the magicians of information technology, to understand the trends and know how business can take advantage of wearable tech. Only by understanding our customers, what they do every day and how they work, can we start to predict the trends of new technology. Knowing what users will want, before they want it, gives IT the role of being a solution provider and supplier of exceptional service.
Wait a minute – I just received a Google alert that Samsung is releasing a new Android watch. Sorry, gotta go and catch-up on this latest wearable tech news!
Posted by Joe the IT Guy