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Author's profile photo Susan Galer

Health, Wealth and Happiness: Are We Just a Wearable Away From Having it All?

Wearables are generating scads of ideas from practical fitness trackers like FitBit, to questionable gizmos like Nixie, a drone that lets rock climbers take selfies without risking their lives. Not that I’m devaluing the lives of rock climbers, but with spring being the season of new beginnings, I decided to take stock of some of the latest innovations, including their potential to change our lives.

Industry analyst firm IDC forecasts that in the United States alone, the wearables market will reach 24.3 million devices shipped in 2015. I recently attended IDC Directions 2015 in Boston where I heard about a number of intriguing wearables.

Consumer devices are rampant

Belty is a prototype smart belt that expands and contracts as your waistline might after that second trip to the buffet. The app also collects data about how active or inactive you’ve been, transmitting your trending personal habits to your smartphone along with suggestions for making improvements.

Fitness trackers like Pavlok administer a gentle electric shock if you’ve sat for too long or forgotten to go to the gym.

Nixie is touted as the world’s first wearable flying camera that, when available, will perch on your wrist, leave on command to take an action shot, and return when finished.

Google Glass may be on hold while the company considers other platforms, but Microsoft is full speed ahead with HoloLens, billed as a holographic computing platform that allows technology to mimic the natural way people live and work.

Business is the next wearables frontier

Forecasters have wearables entering the workplace fast. That’s because companies are eager to use the data collection and synthesis capabilities of wearables to manage a variety of tasks. For example when it comes to collaboration, wearables are light-years ahead of clunky video conferencing. IDC projects that 20 percent of wearables will be geared to business-to-business situations by 2019. Here are a few industry scenarios.

Health: Physicians can use the collected data over time from a patient’s wearables to determine their risk for certain diseases such as diabetes or heart disease.

Commerce: Instead of handing people coupons with their purchase receipts, wearables will provide companies will the ability to serve up custom-tailored offerings on goods and services in real-time at the moment of purchase.

Transportation: Airline maintenance engineers repairing an engine can save time and ensure safety by immediately bringing up visualized information about the parts required.

Oil & Gas: Oil field engineers on-site can instantly see how to repair a valve or pump minimizing down time and heading off problems.

Surgeons in the operating room can call up vital stats from x-rays and other diagnostic test results and bring in another expert pronto – with no time wasted searching for data on a computer or mobile device, they never leave the patient’s side at all.

Computer-assisted design (CAD): Using wearable glasses, product engineers could change the size, shape, color and texture of a product design with a few gestures, inviting other experts to join in as well. At the press of a button, the prototype is send to a 3D printer that manufactures the product in minutes.

Plumbing: house calls could become obsolete when wearables transmit images to plumbers who can direct consumers to make repairs remotely.

The vision for wearables is bold and in some cases, mind-boggling. And, organizations are using some of these innovations already. The potential is strong for happier, healthier lives, and more successful organizations.

Follow me @smgaler

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