Why Wearable Computing has Become a Necessity for Industrial Work Environments
A recent article on TechRadarPro discusses recent increasing advancements in technological innovation, particularly wearable technology. The pandemic has forced us into reliance on technology for communication and remote work. Productivity has been boosted as a result due to the removal of commuting.
Industry 4.0 has accelerated digital transformation strategies within businesses. Considerations that companies need to make with this include improvements and safety for workers. Wearable computing is said to have helped with this.
Augmented Reality is finally being recognised as having a critical role in digital transformation. Use cases mentioned in the article include:
- Oil & Gas workers
- Offshore work
AR wearables allow for full situational awareness, which is especially important in hazardous work environments. It enables workers to operate hands-free and without obstruction.
Other technologies, such as 5G, are also said to be on the rise for industrial deployment. Companies are rapidly digitising to maintain, and even optimise, essential operations. Wearable computing has become a necessity for workers to operate safely, and it also reduced the number of employees required for on-site work. This empowers workers to connect with experts and colleagues, ensuring business continuity. For example, experts can be contacted remotely and give guidance to on-site workers via a live video and audio feed. Time, cost, and environmental impact are all reduced as a result.
Safety is a priority for hazardous on-site environments such as those involving dangerous chemicals, radiation, and extreme temperatures. Wearable technology enables:
- Improved workforce capability
- Improved operational efficiency
- Optimal safety
The hands-free nature of wearable technology is vital for safety. For example, voice recognition allows wearables to operate in noisy industrial settings.
However, some challenges of deploying wearable tech are acknowledged in the article:
- Time-consuming setup and allowance for adjustments
- Understanding how to utilise the technology
- Change management
Despite these barriers, new use cases for the technology are constantly surfacing. One example is Vestas Wind Systems AS, a manufacturer and servicer of wind turbines. It deployed AR technology for its new product development platform, and was able to address the changing wind industry workforce. In the next decade, 30% of employees are set to retire, so wearable tech will help to facilitate knowledge transfer for new employees.
The increase of Industry 4.0 and IoT applications that integrate AR will fuel further adoption of wearable tech. Advancements in cloud services and widespread distribution of 5G will also accelerate digital transformation plans in the enterprise. Wearable technology is anticipated to become more commonplace in the industry, even becoming a necessity for a range of applications.