Industrial Wearables — A Fashion Statement on the Future of Work

Smart gloves and glasses, in tandem with the Industrial Internet, hold the potential to transform how workers interact with machines.

Industrial wearables have the ability to change the way a baggage handler loads luggage onto a plane, or how an engineer repairs a locomotive. The baggage handler will no longer have to remember how many bags were loaded onto the plane or estimate the weight of the luggage, while the engineer won’t have to be an expert on the many iterations of locomotives.

Welcome to the brave new world of the Industrial Internet, where machine sensors enable a higher level of efficiencies, productivity and even predictivity. This greater level of connectivity also empowers workers, as wearable industrials such as smart gloves and glasses gives skilled laborers real-time information to improve their effectiveness and safety.

Wearable technology such as ProGlove will be able to weigh each and every bag as it is loaded onto the plane. The data gathered by the gloves becomes actionable data that the crew chief can analyze in real time to ensure that the plane is not over weight and every bag is accounted for.

If an airline opted in to this technology, passengers on the plane could receive a push notification that their luggage was safely stored below in the cargo hold of the plane. This scenario becomes a reality when companies embrace the Industrial Internet by deploying sensors, building industrial-strength Wi-Fi networks and customizing wearables for their unique and demanding needs.

“Wearable electronics on the body can add a new level of information that benefits the worker and the company,” says Alexander Grots, founder of ProGlove.

Wearable technology holds the potential to not only improve working conditions, but also cut down on lost time due to uncertainty. The data gathered from the Industrial Internet, which is shared in real-time with the worker’s wearables, can improve the overall efficiency of each and every organization that embraces wearable technology.

When engineers are dispatched to fix a locomotive, they are no longer relying upon years of experience. Today, sensors on the locomotives can share data with wearable devices, which would then inform the engineer of the exact problem

While repairing the problem, an engineer wearing a pair of Osterhout Design Group’s R-6S Smart Glasses would also be able to see 3D diagrams of the part and how it resides in the locomotive. “ODG’s smart glasses are designed to deliver an unparalleled ability in head-worn computing, with innumerable applications for government and industry,” says ODG CEO Ralph Osterhout.

The ODG smart glasses combined with a ProGlove would allow the engineer to work more efficiently and remediate the problem faster, without jeopardizing the safety of the locomotive’s crew.

Wearables will make the worker smarter and the business more efficient. We have only begun to scratch the surface of wearable technology and the impact it will have on business and society. Today, only 20 percent of American adults own a wearable device, according to PwC’s recent The Wearable Future report. This adoption rate is on par with the growth rate of tablets in 2012.

As wearable technology matures and more startups turn their focus to the industrial space, we will start to see exponential growth of industrial wearables. As wearables help connect workers more closely with their machines through the Industrial Internet, that will create an opportunity for entrepreneurs to revolutionize the way the industrial sector integrates technology into its day-to-day businesses.

Industrial wearables represent just the beginning of a transformation in the industrial goods sector. The smarter, data-empowered workforce that evolves will create strategic advantages for the established companies and startups that embrace the future of work.

Industrial Wearables — A Fashion Statement on the Future of Work is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte that was originally published on General Electric Reports.

Sign up for IDEAS — Our weekly insight into innovation.