The Wearable Road Less Traveled: Not Your Average Enterprise Wearables

Written BY

Emily Friedman

July 31, 2017

Smart glasses like the Vuzix M300 and the long-awaited Google Glass Enterprise Edition; AR/VR headsets like the HoloLens and Oculus Rift; smartwatches like the Samsung Gear S3—these wearables get a lot of coverage; but how many cases of enterprises using temperature-regulating wearables or custom smart bands do you know of? Read about companies exploring the wearable road less traveled:


In Spring 2015 it was reported that Caterpillar planned to use dorsaVi’s medical-grade wearable sensor technology to monitor and evaluate the movement of its workers using heavy material handling equipment, with the goal of discovering best practices and improving safety.

The ViSafe solution features multiple (wearable) movement and muscle activity sensors that track how users move in their daily work lives—how their lower backs, shoulders, etc. move while performing tasks. The sensor data synced with video footage can be analyzed to pinpoint unsafe work practices like challenging postures and repetitive motions that would cause injury, and to reveal where modifications should be made in the workplace.

For Caterpillar, ViSafe analysts would help come up with a plan to optimize both the workplace and workforce to prevent injury, including training workers in safe manual handling and implementing potential interventions at work stations.

*Hear from Caterpillar’s Mark Melody and Barb Schwarzentraub this October at EWTS Fall 2017

Emerson Electric    

Heat is a silent killer in the Gulf region: In July 2016, temperatures regularly exceeded 104˚F, creating unbearable conditions for construction workers and other laborers. While the UAE has a mandatory summer break for outdoor workers between the hours of 12:30pm and 3:00pm, high temps are still a major cause of exhaustion and illness among the workforce.

To combat the heat, Emerson teamed up with Freezermate to develop a wearable solution in the form of a “neck cooler.” Emerson provided over 1,000 of its employees with freezer-pack devices worn around the neck, engineered to instantly reduce the wearer’s body temp as well as absorb neck sweat during the hottest hours of the work day. Each wearable could last around an hour or so under temperatures of up to 113˚F.

Emerson MEA worked with Majid Al Futtaim Properties on one pilot project and with World Security in Jebel Ali. The company also installed a solar-powered freezer on one of the sites to keep the wearables cold and in use. By enabling users to work safely for a greater part of the day, this kind of wearable technology could help UAE workers be more productive and reduce downtime.

Kenco Logistics

A leading manufacturer of coffee brewing systems partnered with Kenco to oversee its North American distribution after experiencing a 75% increase in daily order volume. With 15 full-time employees performing quality checks, the manufacturer had achieved 99.5% order accuracy, which Kenco sought to increase to over 99.8% through technological innovation.

Kenco modified its proprietary warehouse management system to allow pickers to use hands-free wearable scanning devices – specifically, Motorola WT4000 wrist-mounted terminals with ring scanners – on the pick line. (The WT4000 is no longer available. Zebra Technologies now offers the WT6000.)

As Kenco intended, picking efficiency and order accuracy went up. With the new system (Kenco’s own WMS modified for the small screen of a wearable) and new hands-free equipment, orders were completed in significantly reduced time and order accuracy exceeded 99.9%. Additional labor was not required to handle the increase in order volume; and in fact Kenco was able to reduce the QA staff from 15 to 3 full-time workers, saving $382,000 in labor costs.

Jaguar Land Rover

The Jaguar Activity Key is an original smart wristband for Jaguar drivers. It is a car key, just in the form of a lightweight, robust and waterproof device worn like a bracelet. For active Jaguar owners, the wearable serves as a substitution for the conventional car key that one usually carries around. An RFID sensor in the band assumes control of the vehicle’s locking system, so when the driver wants to enjoy a hike or swim without needing to carry anything, he/she can wear the Activity Key.

The Jaguar Activity Key operates without a battery (doesn’t require charging,) and is suitable for all temperatures and weather conditions. In addition to this original wearable device, Jaguar has an Android Wear application for drivers to operate various car functions remotely using a personal smartwatch.


In 2012, the global construction and development company adopted Reactec’s HAVMETER system to monitor Hand Arm Vibration (HAV,) a major source of injury for utilities and construction workers. (Keep in mind that this technology is now available in a wearable form factor: While the HAVMETER is a device about the size and shape of a pager, it isn’t worn on the body but rather attached to individual tools. HAVWEAR is a wrist-worn device. Both measure the worker’s exposure to vibration.)

Skanska’s employees operate vibrating tools to drill, excavate, resurface, etc. on a daily basis. Prior to HAVMETER, the company used a paper-based HAV monitoring system—workers were essentially self-monitoring their exposure, and were not always accurate in doing so. Reactec’s solution presented an automatic and more precise method of tracking and reporting operators’ exposure levels and tool usage. (The HAVWEAR is capable of informing the wearer of his or her exposure in real time.)

As there is no cure for HAVS (Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome,) prevention is key. Reactec’s HAV solutions enable companies to proactively manage and mitigate workers’ vibration damage and injury risk. With the accurate and timely insight afforded by HAVMETER, Skanska saw a significant increase in worker protection and productivity. Today, Reactec offers both HAVMETER and HAVWEAR.

*Albert Zulps from Skanska will be speaking at EWTS Fall ’17

PGT Trucking

Pennsylvania-based PGT Trucking abides by the motto “Safety is Everyone’s Job – All the Time.” A trucking company’s most valuable assets are its drivers, which is why PGT uses a smart Bluetooth headset by Maven Machines to keep employees safe.

To start, PGT gave the Maven Co-Pilot smart headset to five of its drivers. The hands-free technology is designed to detect if a truck driver is fatigued or distracted, capturing data in real time and alerting the user at the first signs of risk. Packed with sensors and connected to an app, the headset tracks the driver’s head position (head motion, mirror-checking, focus) and communicates with the GPS of his or her mobile phone to account for safety metrics like speed and harsh braking. Warnings and coaching are given via speech technology.

While a headset is not what you first imagine when hearing “wearable technology;” the Maven Co-Pilot is a device worn on the body, smart and connected, and operated hands-free.

From advanced body-worn sensors to a technological ice pack for your neck, it seems workers today can be outfitted with a piece of technology for every body part. These devices – a headset that can tell when you’re not paying attention to the road, wristbands that are also car keys and vibration detectors – may not be very futuristic or have glamorous functions. They don’t overlay information and diagrams on the real world, but they are wearables and they are effective.

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: TheBetterDay Lr-1000142 via photopin (license)

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