The wearables watch

by Alyson Edmunds, Mobility Expert at Telefónica UK

Smart bands and smartwatches are predicted to account for 87% of all wearables shipped in 2018[1] but back in January I felt this year would be the year wearables enter the workplace. So, halfway into 2015, is that likely to happen? A new range of smartwatches were revealed at the 2015 Mobile World Congress and a group of us at O2 have been checking out how they perform in practice within the business environment.

Some early adopters already see their smartwatches as a natural extension of their smartphones. The ability to rely on key notifications appearing on their wrist is an ideal feature for cheekily glancing at messages in meetings and identifying important calls without having to take out your phone. New services and apps are making it easier to use your smartwatch for work too. Evernote’s smartwatch app sends reminders to your watch and allows users to dictate notes on the move using the device’s voice recognition interface, a handy feature for business users. One of our testers loves replying to texts using the dictate tool, which is ideal for people who like hands-free devices.

The real leaders in smartwatch engagement are in the travel and transport sector. British Airways and Flybe have created watch optimised boarding passes. Uber can now deliver estimated arrival times and detailed information about its drivers straight to your watch. And Citymapper has long been a handy navigation tool, but their smartwatch app can work out the fastest route whether you’re walking, driving or using public transport.

But it’s not just about consumers. Businesses should be exploring the possibilities for their employees too. A customer of mine has recently set a challenge to their employees to walk 10,000 steps a day as part of a health conscious initiative. Perhaps they should consider using smartwatches to monitor this as our testers found the health apps on their smartwatches especially addictive. And why should it end there? Imagine being able to use this technology as not only a health device but also as a safety tool to support your workforce.

Of course there are some teething problems. Although battery performance has impressed, outdoor usage and direct sunlight has caused some visibility issues and some manufacturers handle this much better than others. One user dropped a watch, and the screen smashed, so we recommend checking out screen protectors and snap on covers to protect your smartwatch, just as you would your smartphone. It’s still early days, but we’ve definitely been excited and encouraged by what we’ve seen so far.

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