Hands-free, wearable technology has officially entered the facilities market and is making a big impact on building safety, security and efficiency. From data analysis to security authorization, wearables like smartwatches, headsets and Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) wristbands are simplifying building management day-by-day.
But how, exactly, are building management professionals using wearable technology in their departments? How will wearable technology impact future building management? To find out, AkitaBox interviewed four experts on how wearables can improve facilities productivity. Here’s what they had to say.
The Benefits of Wearable Technology in Building Management
"Wearable technology will drastically improve workflow, processes, communication and productivity."
Meet the Expert:
David Novak is an internationally syndicated columnist and expert in consumer electronics. He serves as Editor-in-Chief for GadgetGram, an online technology news source consisting of product reviews, technology news and the latest tech trends. GadgetGram offers visitors a variety of interactive and educational resources as well as many exciting purchase opportunities to consider.
AkitaBox: “What examples of wearable technology are currently on the market?”
Novak: “Right now, the wearable market is booming in the form of smartwatches, smart glasses and fitness trackers, and we're seeing these wearables quickly becoming a part of business life. We already see manufacturing taking a lot of notice in smart glasses technology, incorporating them into their warehouse staff to manage and ship inventory. But we're only in the infancy of where this market will take us.”
AB: “How can wearable technology be used in the building management industry?”
Novak: “Wearables can help with the on-boarding of new employees, including video training and communication right from their wrist. Wearables will also facilitate tighter security and safety measures through real-time and accurate monitoring of facilities and people. Building surveillance will no doubt improve with wearables, thanks to their portability and location flexibility.
Overall, I believe that wearables will benefit the workforce in three ways.
Wearables are easy to use because they're extremely portable and don't require your hands to operate, thanks to voice command technology.
Wearables will further allow workers to connect from anywhere in the world. Wi-Fi, the Cloud and Bluetooth allow wearables to integrate and interact with any other device or technology.
Finally, wearables will allow workers to perform their tasks more efficiently. They can instantly scan a document to a client for a signature, for example.”
AB: “How do you envision the future of wearable technology?”
Novak: “Wearables will drastically improve workflow, processes, communication and productivity. No more going back to the office to perform tasks. I believe that not too long in the distant future, we will see wearables incorporated into clothing, belts, maybe even under the skin! Suffice it to say, this market doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. In some instances, wearables are already outperforming the handheld device. Wearables give new opportunities for data gathering surrounding the workforce, where we'll see more dependency on devices to perform daily tasks.”
"Wearable technology will pair with biometric technology to boost security measures."
Meet the Expert:
Shayne Sherman serves as Chief Executive Officer of TechLoris, a website that serves as a resource center for consumers looking to learn more about IT and tech-related topics. TechLoris provides readily accessible solutions, tutorials and clear guidelines on how to navigate and best resolve a wide variety of PC-related issues.
AB: “What are the most interesting ways that wearable technology can be used in facilities?”
Sherman: “One of the coolest things about wearables, namely smartwatches, is that they can help us better understand where people are in our facilities. In the past, we've only really been able to track people's movements by logging their entry into secure areas with a Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) badge or the like. Now, with smartwatches, we can know exactly where occupants are in the building at all times.
Secondly, we can better understand how people are using our facilities, which helps us plan going forward. Building managers can ask themselves: “Are large sections of the building going unused during certain parts of the day? Are other areas bogged down?” This information is useful not only for everyday planning, but also for data collection to inform if, or when, expansion talks should occur.”
AB: “How will smartwatches impact the building management industry in coming years?”
Sherman: “I believe smartwatches will replace RFID badges. This technology acts as a sort of two-factor authentication for the facility. If we tie in biometrics with the device, it won’t be as simple as having the badge and waving at the door. Now, you’ll have to approve access with your fingerprint or a facial scan, in addition to wearing the smartwatch.”
"Wearable technology can be used to monitor and improve workplace safety protocols."
Meet the Expert:
Dr. Mark Farrell works as an actuary and senior lecturer of Actuarial Science at Queen’s University Belfast in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He spent six months in the United States on a Fulbright scholarship investigating the impact that wearables may have on the insurance industry. He also manages ProActuary, a blog that features articles on actuarial-related topics including data science, insurtech, actuarial study, productivity, business psychology and technology.
AB: “How would you describe the current state of the wearable technology industry?”
Dr. Farrell: “Wearable technology is now moving well beyond the realm of medical devices and fitness trackers. Each day seems to bring news of more wearable products, ranging from the well-established wrist-borne devices, to jewelry, to new products embedded in shoes and clothing. We are now also witnessing wearable products that are designed to address health and safety in the workplace.”
AB: “How, specifically, can wearable technology be used by building managers?”
Dr. Farrell: “Wearable technology can be used by building managers in a variety of ways. First, movement sensors can detect when workers move in sub-optimal ways, which may result in injury. For example, the sensors may detect poor lifting technique or a worker lifting an excessively heavy weight.
Second, smart glasses can provide the means by which a remote manager can monitor activity and, if necessary, offer advice and support to workers on the ground. An example of this is the XOeye smart glasses developed by XOi Technologies.
And lastly, sensor clips can be attached to clothing or machinery. They are able to monitor trips and falls in the workplace. An example of this wearable technology is the Spot-r clip developed by Triax Technologies, Inc.”
“Wearable technology can alert to improper lifting techniques, detect falls and decrease risk in the workplace.”
Meet the Expert:
Ayush Kanodia is the founder of WebClues Infotech, a leading web and mobile app development company. WebClues Infotech has a team of over 140 designers and developers who provide IT solutions using the latest technologies available on the market, including wearable technology, Internet of Things (IoT) tech, Blockchain, Android app development and iOS app development.
AB: “What types of wearable technology will impact the building management industry in coming years?”
Kanodia: “Wearable technology has its hands on every possible industry, including the building management industry. Work-related injuries remain a significant source of concern for contractors and workers. I forsee that wearable technology will continue to help facilities departments gain valuable, data-driven insight on keeping their teams safe.”
AB: “Tell me more about wearables and how they can detect trips and falls in the workplace.”
Kanodia: “In coming years, wearable devices will provide faster response times to possible injuries by automatically detecting worker falls. They’ll also provide supervisors with real-time notifications of a worker's location and of safety-related incident details. Wearables will include a feature that allows workers to easily report hazards or incidents, or alert medical help if needed.”
AB: “What are some other ways that wearable technology can improve safety and security?”
Kanodia: “There are many ways through which wearable technology can improve building safety and security.
Alerts: Wearable technology warns employees of potential risk factors, such as extreme temperatures, noise levels or a release of toxins.
Emergency notifications: In the event of an emergency or dangerous situation, wearable technology can send emergency notifications to workers.
Posture monitoring: Wearables can signal and save adverse situations, including activities that can cause injuries or place the worker at risk due to improper lifting or nodding off.
Data collection and reporting: Using the same type of sensors in smartphones and smartwatches, wearable devices have the capability to collect real-time information, which can be used by managers and supervisors to manage workflows and identify risks.”
Explore the Future of Building Technology
Wearable technology is just one example of cutting-edge facility management solutions that are currently available on the market. Stay up-to-date on several other technology trends of the year in the Total Geek’s Guide to Building Technology Trends, an online guide that gives readers an inside look at how today’s gadgets and systems can positively impact your facilities team.
You may also be interested in reading Technology Trends in Facility Management, a 2019 report that includes insight and data on how facility management teams are already using new technologies such as drones, 360° cameras, and IoT sensors in their facilities and grounds.