There was a time when a phone was the size of a brick (and just as heavy) and all you could do with it was to make and receive calls. Later a flashlight was added, then a calculator, and some games. Remember Snake? I was a champion at it.
Then there was texting, the alarm clock and an ever growing number of other features, so pretty soon when you left the house you would only need your phone: no more notepads, pens, calendars, cameras, stopwatches, and even your wallet became optional.
Phones got thinner and smarter and changed their names to smartphones.
And after all the work of incorporating everything in them, a new trend came along and tech manufactures and designers decided to take apart some features and reinvent them as separate devices — smaller, easier to wear and of course, even smarter than the average smartphone. These devices are serving a bigger purpose.
This is pretty much how wearable technology was born.
Could wearable technology enhance business training?
The main purpose of wearable technology is to gather important data and give instant access to certain resources. There are a lot of devices out there that fall under this category. From fitness monitors to smartwatches, to live cameras, to heartbeat monitors, these devices can help many industries, as they improve the quality of life for millions of people using business services.
Here are a few wearable devices that can be used by companies to train their employees and increase productivity:
- Wearable wrist displays. These come in handy especially when you have a large business offering many different items, let’s say a hardware store. Employees can get access on their wrist band to manuals, handling instructions, safety issues for each product, so that they can help customers on the spot.
- Wireless headsets. These are not only helpful when having an overseas conference, but also for training sessions that involve hands on practice. The employee can listen to the training material or a coworker's instructions while handling the piece of equipment. This is always a must for the jobs that require a lot of talking on the phone. It gives the employee their hands free to exercise, take notes, or even walk during the call — and thus managing to do the recommended 10000 daily steps. And speaking of sports...
- Fitness bands. Within employee wellbeing programs, fitness level tracking has become a trend — a quite healthy one I may add. Some companies are including these devices in the hiring benefits package, because a healthier, more rested employee is a more creative and productive one. Fitness bands can record steps taken, hours of sleep, heart rates, low activity periods and more information about the health of employees. These can be used to optimize working conditions to support employees' health and in the long term they will lead to cost reductions for health insurance.
- Virtual Reality headsets. These are one of my favorites tools for training because I think they take training to a whole new level of understanding. You can create VR training content for practically anything you need to teach your employees to do. Onboarding or company tours, fire hazard training or team projects — everything can go into those headsets. Trainees can practice, rewind, or take everything from the start if necessary. And you can rest assured the immersive learning experience will keep them as engaged as possible.
- Augmented Reality glasses. While the Virtual Reality headset shuts off the world around you and transport you into a new one, the AR glasses bring the virtual world into your everyday environment using holographic images. The first example that pops into my mind is an architect training his young associates and just sitting in an empty field and building a holographic masterpiece to see how good it would blend in with the rest of the scenery.
- Clip-on cameras. These are those tiny devices of the size of a badge that can record the interaction with customers or coworkers, and then be used for feedback. The trainer doesn't have to stand right behind the trainee for every minute of the training program. The data collected by clip-on cameras can be revised and analyzed later to see what went well and where improvements can be made. It’s pretty handy for video tutorials too.
- Smartwatches. I will dare to assume everyone knows what these are by now, even if you don’t own one. You can make calls, read emails, get notifications and much more straight from your watch. How cool is that? And these devices are perfect for nano-learning when you decide to use them for employee training. That means that the trainee gets small bits of information at a set time or situation.
Some security concerns
With so much data-gathering technology, the first legitimate question is of course How safe are this wearables?
Well, companies adopting these gadgets will need a very strong and accurate policy regarding their use. Companies usually worry about privacy breaches. So, before adopting a BYOW — Bring Your Own Wearable — or offering wearable devices to employees, companies need to do a thorough check of ongoing law regulations and make sure that everyone is well informed about when, how, and who can use the data provided by the devices.