Companies You Didn't Know Were Exploring Wearable Tech

Written BY

Emily Friedman

August 15, 2017

Ever heard of a little company named Coca-Cola or stayed in a Marriott hotel? Are you a Citibank or Wells Fargo customer? Read how some of the world’s largest and best-known companies – companies whose products and services you may see or use every day – are exploring wearable technologies:


Back in 2014, the beverage giant partnered with wearable fitness and sleep tracker maker Misfit, both as part of Coca-Cola’s employee wellness program and to offer exclusive red-colored Misfit devices to My Coke Rewards program members. Since then, Coca-Cola has delved further into the world of enterprise wearable tech.

In 2017, it was revealed that the soft drink company partnered with Pristine to pilot Augmented Reality technology in its bottling facilities in hopes of increasing operational efficiency. Coke is testing AR glasses for machine inspections, service calls, routine audits, and more.

One use case involves having technicians wear smart glasses in order to stream what they see in real time to remote subject matter experts. Since Coca-Cola’s main equipment suppliers are based in Germany, the use of AR for remote troubleshooting between plant workers and the supplier’s engineers greatly reduces the company’s travel costs. The glasses allow workers to remain hands-free while accessing maintenance information and viewing step-by-step expert guidance in his or her line of sight.

In another use case, AR would help minimize downtime during changeover, a complex process in which bottling equipment is reconfigured for different packaging options (ex. switching production from cans to glass bottles.) Cruise ships are also testing AR to remotely service Coca-Cola fountain dispensers at sea, an application that could extend to wherever Coke dispensers are located.

*Coca-Cola’s Mike Terrell will be speaking at EWTS Fall 2017 this coming October.

Ashley Furniture

In 2016, the furniture manufacturer and retailer announced it was pursuing Augmented and Virtual Reality to enable customers to design and experience living spaces in 3D. Using Marxent’s VisualCommerce platform, Ashley created and scaled its product catalogue for AR and VR.

The first solution developed with Marxent was the Ashley AR shopping app, for visualizing how the brand’s home furnishings would fit into users’ existing spaces. In addition, Ashley planned for in-store virtual reality tech bars to debut in 2017—using a guided iPad space configuration application with a VR headset, shoppers would be able to design and virtually stand in rooms furnished with Ashley products.

Marriott Hotels

In Summer 2015, the hotel giant created a 4D marketing experience in the form of a traveling Virtual Reality booth or “Teleporter” in which users went on an immersive virtual trip to a Hawaiian beach.

Marriott worked with Framestore to develop the virtual reality content for the Teleporter, which utilized an Oculus Rift headset as well as other sensory experiences like artificial sun and wind. Interior cameras recorded users as they were “teleported” to later share on social media, while a split screen displayed what they saw in the VR simulation alongside footage of their real reactions inside the booth.

The Teleporter traveled to different cities, showcasing the future of travel and likely providing many people with their very first VR experiences. Of course, Marriott hoped that following the quick virtual trip, users would be inspired to book a stay at one of its hotels. The hotel chain believes “travel sampling” in VR will appeal to Millennials, who are more interested in traveling than Baby Boomers and who desire mobility and convenience in their travels.

In Fall 2015, Marriott announced the launch of “VRoom Service” at the New York Marriott Marquis and London Marriott Park Lane hotels. Again aimed at making the hotel brand more attractive to Millennials, the program allowed guests to order a sleek briefcase containing a Samsung Gear VR headset plus accessories to their room for 24 hours.

The device gave access to the Samsung Milk VR platform as well as three inspiring, immersive virtual reality experiences or “VR postcards”—original 360-3D VR videos created by Marriott. Each postcard shared the life-changing experiences of a traveler in a unique destination, with the traveler narrating his/her own story.

Marriott’s VRoom Service pilot was a first in the travel industry. Marriott International also partnered with GoInStore to improve the event booking process by providing remote previews of function spaces for meeting planners. Wearing smart glasses, hotel staff could show customers the rooms and facilities through a live video stream.

(See also Wearable Technology By Industry: Travel and Hospitality and Wearable Tech and Your Next Vacation)

Citigroup and Wells Fargo

In 2016, Citi began exploring how Virtual and Augmented Reality might apply to the finance industry, partnering with VR design firm 8ninths to develop a proof-of-concept for a Mixed Reality trading desk using Microsoft’s HoloLens device.

The concept is a combination 2D-3D work station right on the trading floor. A trader would be able to check financial news, emails, etc. on 2D monitors flanking the station and access holographic trading tools by putting on the HoloLens. With a dynamic 3D snapshot of what’s happening in the market at a given moment, traders could make better trade decisions. They could also remotely collaborate with hedge fund clients, sharing select elements of the holographic workflow with them.

Rival Wells Fargo has been testing AR/VR POCs it might one day adopt in its San Francisco innovation lab since 2014—ideas like having customers virtually interact with bank tellers using the Oculus Rift headset, or having tellers use Google Glass and facial recognition software to automatically pull up customers’ banking information.

About EWTS Fall 2017:

The Fall Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit 2017 taking place October 18-19, 2017 in Boston, MA is the leading event for wearable technology in enterprise. It is also the only true enterprise event in the wearables space, with the speakers and audience members hailing from top enterprise organizations across the industry spectrum. Consisting of real-world case studies, engaging workshops, and expert-led panel discussions on such topics as enterprise applications for Augmented and Virtual Reality, head-mounted displays, and body-worn devices, plus key challenges, best practices, and more; EWTS is the best opportunity for you to hear and learn from those organizations who have successfully utilized wearables in their operations.

photo credit: Günter Hentschel Ein Bett im Strandkorb via photopin (license)

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