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Smart Wearables Allow an Experimental Approach to Workplace Design

Wearables may be able to provide insight to productivity, alertness, and demeanor in the workplace.

· IoT Zone

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It’s probably fair to say that most the booming number of wearable devices exist in the health and wellness sectors, with the likes of FitBit offering us a range of monitoring and tracking services related to our health and fitness.

There are a growing number of such wearable devices emerging in the workplace however, with many aiming to improve our levels of productivity and engagement.

For instance, Japanese company KeyValue launched a smart cushion device last year, that comes with inbuilt employee analytics.

The cushion can be fitted to a regular office chair, with the inside of the device containing a pressure sensor that can detect if and when the chair is being used.  This data is then sent to a computer via a sensor built into the cushion itself.

The aim of the device is to provide managers with insight into how often a chair is being used, with a potential for also encouraging employees to get up and exercise if they’ve been sedentary for too long.

Exercise Now

The Vigo device attempts to achieve a similar thing, albeit via a different route.  It comes in the form of a wearable sensor that claims to be able to detect drowsiness, whilst also providing both the wearer (and your boss) with real time data on how alert (and therefore productive) you are.

It does this by monitoring your blinking patterns, with an algorithm then used to determine your level of alertness.  The device comes with a range of notifications to alert you if you’re becoming drowsy.

Tracking Productivity

One of the latest wearable devices to hit the market is BetterWorks, which is a performance tracking device that offers managers the opportunity to monitor their entire workforce in realtime via a simple smartphone app (and of course eventually via devices such as the Apple watch).

A similar tool, albeit in badge form, is Humanyze, which combines a range of sensors, including accelerometer and microphone.  This data is then made available to employers who can use it to improve productivity.

The data collected on each employee includes things such as how far they walk, the tone of their voice when they talk and even their posture as they talk to colleagues or customers.

As with many of the other wearable devices, the data is uploaded to a dashboard where it can be analyzed alongside various other business metrics.

One interesting feature of the device is that it makes creating an A/B test relatively straightforward.

Interesting Results

The project itself was born out of the MIT Media Lab, and they have already begun trying the device out at the Bank of America, where 10,000 employees are wearing the badge as they work.

The initial experiment has already produced some fascinating results.  For instance, it emerged that the most employee interaction occurred during the overlap of their lunchbreaks.

This discovery prompted the organization to try a staggered lunch schedule to try and encourage greater interaction between employees.

What’s more, they discovered that a group lunch was very positive on a number of scores, including a reduction in stress levels and employee productivity.

It probably goes without saying that the devil is always in the detail, and the Humanize badge makes sure to anonymize data so that the employer cannot identify particular employees, and they have to be tracked with their explicit consent.

It’s an interesting example of how workplace management is being increasingly data focused, and the new wave of wearable devices is underpinning such an experimental approach.

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Topics:
iot ,wearables ,productivity

Published at DZone with permission of Adi Gaskell, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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