Report: Will the workplace lead wearable tech adoption?

A majority of adults are ready to embrace wearables in their workplace, though the U.S. remains behind in overall wearable adoption, a new survey by Kronos Incorporated has revealed. Currently, nearly three-quarters (73%) of adults believe wearable tech could benefit the workplace in at least one of three major ways: increasing efficiency, productivity, or safety.


As previously reported on Bits & Pieces, researchers expect more than 13 million wearable devices with embedded wireless connectivity to be integrated into wellness plans offered by businesses over the next five years. Meanwhile, analysts also anticipate that the workplace wearables market will reach 455 million devices by 2019, generating $46.5 billion of revenue worldwide.

On a global scale, workers cited smart headphones, smartwatches, and arm or wrist computing devices as the most useful in their workplaces. While 48% of U.S. adults believe that wearable technologies could benefit the workplace, this substantial percentage was the lowest out of all other regions: 96% in Mexico, 94% in China, 91% in India, 72% in Germany, 69% in Australia and France, and 66% in England.

“Countries where adults have adopted wearable technology for personal use appear to use wearables for work-related activities as well, and adoption of wearable technology is higher at work than for personal use across the board,” a statement from Kronos explained.

The poll found that when it came to daily wearable use, Americans were lagging behind with only 13% using a body-adorned devices in their personal lives. On the other end of the spectrum, China was by far the highest ranking region in this regard with just shy of 75% of adults using wearables, followed by India (72%) and Mexico (70%). The survey cited smart headphones and fitness monitors as popular wearable devices with large user disparities across the world. For example, only 5% of U.S. adults use smart headphones, as opposed to 61% of adults in China.


Furthermore, a whopping 82% of adults in India and Mexico, as well as 81% in China, have ever worn technologies like headsets, smart badges and barcode scanners for work-related activities, as have 56%of adults in Germany. However, only 20% of United States, 38 % of England., 43% of Australia, and 45% of France adults have used a wearable device for work-related activities.

While the survey revealed several keys to wearable adoption among employees, one in particular was efficiency. 33% percent of American adults cited this factor as a driver for wearable use, while 62% of Mexican respondents and 45% of Indian respondents agreed.

The survey did shine some positive light on the future of wearable computing in the United States. While only 13% of all U.S. adults claim they use wearable devices in their personal lives, more than 1 in 5 of adult students do. Consistent with that, 72% percent of U.S. students see at least one way wearable technologies could benefit the workplace as opposed to just 48% of overall U.S. adults. Kronos also noted that from a personal perspective, 85% of online students see at least one potential business-related benefit that would make them more likely to use wearable technology for work-related purposes, as opposed to 66% of overall U.S. adults.

So, what’s holding the critical mass of U.S. adults back? According to the report, “While privacy was listed as the top potential concern of U.S. workers, less than half believe privacy could be an issue. Data security was the second-highest ranked concern, but only 35% of U.S. employed adults cite it as a potential issue – suggesting that data and privacy concerns will not be a substantial roadblock if benefits of wearable technologies in the workplace are realized.”

Another positive sign for U.S. adoption is that nearly one-third of employed U.S. adults have no concerns about using wearable technology in the workplace. And, as the the wear-your-own device (WYOD) trend continues to take shape, you can expect Atmel to be smack dab in the middle of revolution, with a comprehensive portfolio of versatile microcontrollers that power a wide range of platforms and devices.

“This survey shows a marked difference in how wearable devices are used and perceived around the world, and people who use new wearable technologies in their personal lives tend to see more potential benefits in the workplace. The more comfortable we become with wearables, the more apt we are to leverage these technologies in the workplace,” concluded Joyce Maroney, Director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos.

Want to learn more? You can access the entire study here. Those interested in an in-depth exploration of computers that you wear for work and play may want to check out this latest white paper.

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