4 Industries Wearable Tech Is Already Changing Forever
Wearables are an example of technology that won't replace human workers, just make them vastly more effective at their jobs.
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Technology hasn't erased the need for human workers - yet. However, it is certainly changing the way people work. Across all industries, automation has eliminated repetitive, mundane jobs, allowing professionals to focus on other work. Instead of processing thousands of invoices by hand, for instance, employees can use a portal to pay vendors and invoice clients, with all payments made electronically. This puts the employee in the position of merely managing payments rather than doing the hard labor to make them happen.
Wearable technology has long been associated with fitness, but with augmented-reality glasses like Google Glass, wristbands, and other wearables, there are numerous ways to arm employees with the tools they need to be better at their jobs. Here are some specific industries that stand to benefit from wearable tech.
The medical field is perhaps the biggest beneficiary of wearable tech right now. CES 2016 was overwhelmed with companies interested in disrupting the healthcare space. Innovators envision a not-so-distant future where a patient's blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and body temperature can be monitored using wearable trackers. This might not only allow nursing home-bound patients to remain safely at home, but it may also let healthy patients know well in advance when health issues occur.
Vision care will also see major changes in the coming years. Innovations like 3D printing will revolutionize how you get glasses. Eyeglasses can already be purchased online, but 3D printing means customers could print their own frames at home after an online vision test. With a plastic grinding machine, glasses could even be ground up and fed back into the printer to create frames with a different shape.
Police officers put their lives on the line each day to do their jobs. When an officer pulls over a driver or arrives at a crime scene, it's crucial to have access to information on every party involved. Currently this is done through the use of in-car laptops that allow officers to manually enter in a license plate number and wait for information to arrive.
However, technology has streamlined criminal information to make it easier for officers to access everything they need quickly. This information could eventually be incorporated into future verisons of a tool like Google Glass, where facial recognition software could give officers criminal information on everyone they encounter at a scene.
Educators have already turned attention to tablets to replace textbooks, although mass adoption will likely be years away. For wearable technology, augmented-reality glasses are likely to be the most useful, allowing students to record lessons for playback later. Teachers could also use a Google Glass-like product to incorporate facial recognition technology to help them remember students' names at the beginning of a new school year.
Of all of the advancements, however, virtual reality (VR) may be the most exciting. With the latest VR technology, students may soon be able to take virtual field trips. Traditional field trips are both costly and limited by region, but using VR headsets, students can visit The Louvre, see the pyramids in North Africa and Central America, or even enjoy American sights like New York's Museum of Modern Art.
From Olympians to college athletes, wearables can be used for performance measurement. The challenge is creating sensors that don't interfere with their movement in any way. The National Hockey League (NHL) is currently working with a company to develop trackers that measure everything that happens on the ice. Chips will be inserted in hockey pucks and the backs of players' jerseys and will interact with cameras placed around the arena.
For athletes recovering from injury, tools will soon monitor a person's progress throughout the rehabilitation process. Coaches and medical professionals can then check athletes' progress to determine if they're ready to resume playing. Similar technology could also be used to prevent athletic injuries, alerting coaches when an athlete is approaching a predefined threshold.
Wearable tech is gradually evolving from fitness bands to trackers and glasses that can be used in a variety of ways. Even in fields that have been slower to adapt to a tech-powered business world, wearables can help make employees more productive and effective, potentially even changing lives.