October 21, 2013
Some big companies are asking their employees and customers to don wearable gadgets that track how they move and behave — information the companies claim will help workers do their jobs better or improve a customer’s experience.
As The Wall Street Journal reports, one example is Hitachi’s “business microscope” — a device about the size of a company ID badge that employees wear on lanyards around their necks. It monitors where they go and who they talk to, how often they make hand gestures and nod, and the energy levels in their voices.
A company called Vuzix has developed so-called “smart glasses” with a high-definition camera in the lens that scans bar codes and gives warehouse workers voice and visual data. Walt Disney World Resort is testing wristbands equipped with transmitters that guests can use as a room key, park ticket and charge card, all by touching the bands to electronic readers. The program is optional and those who choose to use it can control their level of privacy, the Journal reports.
For businesses, wearable gadgets present both opportunity and risk. Before companies ask employees and customers to strap gadgets to their heads, chests or wrists, they should let the users know exactly what’s being tracked and analyzed. Pushing wearable gadgets to increase efficiency or productivity will likely backfire and hurt morale. Instead, the Journal writes, companies should use “wearables” to make an employee’s job safer or more interesting, or to give customers a better deal. — Greg Beaubien