Wearable technology is currently defined as: Electronics that can be worn on the body, either as an accessory or as part of material used in clothing, and are connected to a data collection device that monitors personal metrics or environmental conditions.
While the lure of these evolving technologies is undeniable, the costs of purchasing and implementing wearables can be substantial. Without careful planning, wearables might not deliver either the anticipated results or a meaningful return on investment (ROI).
Wearables are hardly a panacea for solving the spectrum of workplace safety and productivity issues. Thus, their acquisition and deployment should include an assessment of potential issues and a framework for addressing them.
Potential pitfalls with wearables include: information overload, integrating wearables into employee-focused safety systems, corporate exposures with personal data collection and protection, potential liabilities with health-related monitoring, and specific logistical issues in providing meaningful feedback.
For the purpose of this paper, the following definitions will be used:
Ergonomics is a body of knowledge around human ability, human limitation, and human characteristics relevant to design.
Ergonomic design is the application of that knowledge to the design of tools, systems, and environments for safe and efficient use.
A safety device is a device which seeks to prevent death, injury or illness or is designed to reduce the potential severity of injury (i.e., a seatbelt).
A safety tool may be a safety device, but will require human decision-making to be effected (i.e., pulling a cord to activate a parachute).
Wearable technology is defined here as: Electronics that can be worn on the body, either as an accessory or as part of material used in clothing, and are connected to a data collection device that monitors personal metrics or environmental conditions.