Smart glasses hyped at the Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit, but other devices deserve more attention

Written BY

Tony Sun

January 28, 2016

Written by Special Guest Blogger Tony Sun, Analyst, Lux Research

Lux Research analysts recently attended the Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit East in Atlanta, GA. The conference included about 250 attendees, with presenters and exhibitors focused on the opportunities and challenges of implementing wearable devices in the workplace. The buzz at the conference centered around smart glasses and three main issues facing smart glasses in the workplace today:

  • Attendees’ top interest is how other companies are using smart glasses for augmented reality (AR). Among different form factors, head-worn devices, especially smart glasses, unsurprisingly attracted the most discussion, mentioned in almost every speech, group discussion, and case study. While most use cases mentioned in the conference – like warehousing, employee training, and assembly and installation – were discussed in our report “Better than Google Glass: Finding the Right Smart Glasses for Enterprise,” new use cases are also being developed. For example, Michael Leyva, Product Manager at Epson, said sharing the point of view from a drone for both enterprise and consumer applications has been a key application for the company’s Moverio smart glasses.
  • The need for better ergonomics design is the major feedback from all wearable device adopters. In his keynote speech, Thomas Bianculli, VP of the Technology Office at Zebra Technologies, highlighted that “Nuances [of wearable ergonomics] will either enable or kill the device.” Examples he shared include placing image projectors for smart glasses on the temples as a poor design for many use cases, as they are likely to block the field of view. Lux Research moderated a panel discussion on human-centered design and ergonomics factors, where comfort, usability, durability, and transferability were highlighted as the top principles to consider.
  • Software providers are playing an increasingly important role in the complicated enterprise-wearable value chain. Hardware developers, software solution providers, and end users are the three key links of the enterprise-wearable value chain. However, as the space is still in its early stage, finding the right combination of hardware and software for a specific use case is quite difficult. Because most software providers work across different wearable platforms and talk directly to end users, they become the central hub to connect end users with the right hardware platform. For example, Atheer provides software for task flow management and remote expert communication in multiple industries. It partners with four smart glass developers: Vuzix, ODG, Epson, and Recon. Based on different use cases, Atheer helps end users decide whether the wired binocular Epson or the untethered monocular Vuzix is the best fit.

While smart glasses are hyped in industry now, other valuable devices deserve more attention. As the use of enterprise wearables expands beyond smart glasses’ capabilities to do things like real-time communication or documentation, this will open up new opportunities for devices better suited to solve other enterprise problems. For example, back monitors like dorsaVi and Kinetic, and smart watches like Apple Watch have a better value proposition for monitoring employee health; work-specific input-output tools like ProGlove’s radio frequency identification device (RFID)-scanning gloves and Theatro’s wearable voice controllers are demonstrated to be useful for logistics and retail, respectively. As a result, people should look beyond the current hype of smart glasses and see that there is a lot of opportunity to develop other form factors in enterprise applications.

Tony Sun is an Analyst on Lux Research’s Wearable Electronics Intelligence and the Electronic User Interfaces Intelligence teams. Lux Research provides strategic advice and ongoing intelligence for emerging technologies. Leaders in business, finance and government rely on Lux to help them make informed strategic decisions. Through their unique research approach focused on primary research and their extensive global network, they deliver insight, connections and competitive advantage to their clients.

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