Walking along the street or around the office or mingling at social events, you’re starting to see more and more of them: wearables. They come in various sizes, shapes, colors, functionalities and, of course, price points. But, as a category, they are growing.
Frankly, there’s little surprise in that. Samsung, Apple, Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Disney … the list of visible and popular brands that have made a run at the wearables space is long. And, let’s face it; it would be nothing short of shocking to see the two biggest names in mobile not be able to provide enough momentum to get the market started on their own.
That said, most wearables are addressing the consumer market. Adidas and other sporting goods vendors have started to penetrate the sports team and organization market, which, in reality, is closer to the enterprise market than consumer. The consumer may be quick to purchase, and will use a product for a while, but he is just as likely to cast it aside and forget about it.
For the enterprise, however, once the value has been identified, it remains, creating ongoing incentive for use and further acquisition, creating something of a recurring revenue stream, especially in the case where software or managed services can be tacked onto the product. While managed wearables haven’t exactly taken off, it’s a very logical opportunity as wearables gain increased penetration in the enterprise market.
Health and safety is a key area for a large number of businesses – certainly those with manual labor and heavy lifting involved, but, in theory, for any business. Price points and product will vary, but the enterprise health and safety market is a huge opportunity for wearables.
Stacey Wallin, CEO, and Bryan Statham, vice president, started LifeBooster with the very understanding that there is a huge problem in back strain and other injuries caused by poor habits and posture, and have set out to develop a system to help predict and prevent as many of these issues as possible.
LifeBooster is a three-piece system embedded with sensors to collect posture data that will help create a real-time, three-dimensional ergonomic representation of the body that will help identify causes of injuries, help prevent future incidents, and facilitate effective rehab.
While LifeBooster is focusing initial efforts on construction, warehousing, oil and gas, mining, and the healthcare markets, its system can prove beneficial in any number of verticals and businesses that rely on any sort of physical activity. The simple fact is that injuries are costly expenses for businesses. For instance, according to Statham, a two-week absence for a back-strain injury typically costs about $16,000 in direct costs, and an additional three to four times that in indirect costs. That’s a total of $64,000-$80,000 per instance.
“The cost of risk assessment and the process a lot of the employees face is quite tedious, so we want to try to help provide a little more insight and help health and safety specialists mitigate some of those risks by using wearables,” explains Statham.
“We also are trying to reduce the time injured workers are away from their jobs and provide a more personalized experience for them, so they feel they have more control over their rehab, as well as getting them back to the jobs more quickly to increase morale and reduce the risk of re-injury.”
The data collected help health and safety managers identify causes of injuries and -- as a result, those employees that are susceptible to injury due to their posture or mechanics -- to help improve worker safety standards, training protocols, and reduce costs. Of course, injuries will happen, but the system also helps in rehabilitation, by entering physical thresholds into the system, which trigger alerts to the employee when he nears that threshold, helping reduce risk of re-injury significantly, while increasing morale due to the worker being able to be back at his or her role faster and with less fear of a secondary injury.
The basic sensors and data behind LifeBooster aren’t entirely unique. Some of the elements have been in use by other wearable companies already. But, what Wallin and Statham have understood is the consumer market is quickly becoming inundated with health and fitness trackers, while the enterprise market has a tremendous need to increase safety measures, for which wearables are a prime candidate. They have taken the sensors and the data, and combined it into a viable and highly useful enterprise system that will be the start of a long trend of wearables development for enterprise markets.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson