Remember Google Glass? When Google decided to shutter production of the $1,500 gadget in January and take the notorious wearable off store shelves, the company assured the market that Google Glass was not permanently dead. But with no talk of the product since, consumers eagerly forgot about it.
Google Glass was supposed to have been the product that will take wearable technology into the mainstream. Instead, it began a long conversation about whether wearables will ever actually take off among consumers at all.
The debate was reignited with the release of the Apple Watch in April. Data released last week revealed that Apple has already sold 3 million of the gadgets, likely far more than Google Glass unit sales but still not exactly spectacular.
Still, analysts and industry experts continue to predict the rise of wearable technology through forecasts of massive sales and mass adoption. Where exactly are these optimistic premonitions coming from?
Wearables in the workplace, many believe, will become the catalyst to making wearable technology the norm.
From Niche Interest To Enterprise Staple
The newest studies to examine the role of wearable technology in today’s market were published by 451 Research last week. The results found an array of indicators that the massive growth of wearable gadgets will largely stem from use of the technology by businesses and their employees.
One study, “Wearables Moving from Consumer Niche Interest to the Enterprise,” concluded that the number of IoT- and M2M-connected devices will nearly quadruple by 2019. In addition to smart cars and mobile wallets, wearable technology will attribute to much of this expansion because of its role in the enterprise.
"We continue to be bullish that ultimately the hype of IoT will be proven to be warranted back on business impact,” said 451 Research Vice President Brian Partridge in a statement. Over the next four years, experts charted a steady rise in M2M connections within an array of business markets, including security, fleet management, and industrial processes.
This rise in IoT-connected gadgets, 451 researchers found, coincides with the results from their second study, released the same day. “Time For Work: Smart Watch App Development Turns to the Enterprise” similarly concluded that as the IoT grows, so will businesses’ demands for IoT-connected devices, specifically wearable technology. According to the reports, 39 percent of business IT officials said that they either already use or plan to use wearable technologies within the next six months. Nearly one-quarter also plan to do so in the next year.
Tech Giants’ Roles In Enterprise Adoption
451 Research highlighted the Apple Watch as a particularly effective driver of workplace wearable adoption. According to the study, 81 percent of IT officials surveyed who plan to deploy wearable technology within their company said that they favor smartwatches. Undoubtedly, Apple is the cause of that effect.
"The release of Apple Watch has opened the flood gates governing wearables’ adoption,” said 451 Enterprise Mobility analyst, and co-author of the Time for Work report, Ryan Martin. “We expect wearable technology to deliver a key interface and input into the Industrial Internet of Things. Wearables have the potential to become an interface – if not the interface – for IIoT access."
In other words, the rise in IoT isn’t just about connecting your toaster to the Internet. It’s about developing sophisticated, Web-enabled technologies within industry machines and communications, creating a more advanced supply chain. And wearables, 451 concluded, will be a major facilitator of that advancement.
The Apple Watch has already been met with a slew of enterprise-focused apps, from travel and expense management services to high-tech office space security. But the tech giant isn’t the only one bracing for wearables in the workplace. Last May, Samsung Business published a white paper with IDG outlining businesses’ decisions to prioritize support for wearable gadgets within their companies. Samsung also issued a blog post announcing its partnership with SAP to connect Samsung’s existing line of wearables to the SAP Mobility platform, hinting at a new push by the South Korean company to launch enterprise-targeted tools.
Sony has already publicized its confidence in the B2B segment. “The biggest benefit of wearable technologies,” Sony Mobile Communications President Hiroki Totoki said in a previous interview, “is that they free up both hands. So we will be looking at what kind of workers want information on a real-time basis, in what kind of circumstance and what information they need."
And as for Google, the firm’s Google Glass flop wasn’t a total loss. Industry experts agree that the venture is responsible for igniting the wearable technology hype. Researchers predict the market to be worth $70 billion by 2025. Confidence is unwavering regarding the eventual success of wearable technology – it just may happen in the office more than in the home.
Even after Google put an end to Glass sales, the company’s enterprise solutions Google Glass program, Glass at Work, was still considered a success. “The media is getting it wrong,” said Ian Shakil, CEO of Augmedix, which is a certified partner of the Glass at Work program. “Glass is not dead. Glass at Work is alive, growing and well."