Productivity Hacks: Wearables Special

Normally we’ll advocate the benefits of things like Flexible Working in Recruitment or better ways to track productivity.

Today, we’re talking about shackling employees to their jobs through the miracle of technology.

Don’t worry if that sounds harsh. Car companies already put factory workers in exoskeletons.

Big pharma’s VR labs have been explored by scientists in bulky headsets for years now.

Everyone from your nan to your brother-in-law has a smartwatch or a health tracker. And if not, nothing says “you’ve let yourself go” quite like a FitBit for Christmas.

Wearables are all over the place. But do they have a place in recruitment?

Assuming you’re a step shy of transforming yourself physically or altering your reality virtually, here’s a look at the best bits of robo-jewellery you can actually use to augment a life in recruitment.

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Watches

I’ve grouped fitness trackers in with watches. Because while they share some functionality, they aren’t the same thing.

Apple, Samsung, et al manufacture smart watches themselves, so what options you have available could be determined by the phone you’ve got.

And because the big dogs’ve already got skin in the wearables game, arguably some of the more interesting pieces come from companies with a narrower focus.

The Vivomove HR by Garmin

Garmin made their name peddling GPS devices in the nineties. They’re given a fair bit of credit nowadays for taking on the smart wristwear market – and making a success of it.

The Vivomove HR doesn’t look like your typical forearm-mounted smartphone. It looks just like a modern watch. But touch the clock face and your notifications light up the screen.

It monitors sleep and tracks stress levels throughout the day. In case you were curious how overtired and under-relaxed you are.

Xiaomi Mi Band 3

Xiaomi’s the fourth biggest smartphone manufacturer on the planet. And they’re top of the market in their native China.

As far as fitness trackers go, the Band 3’s infinitely cheaper than the majority of devices out at the moment. And it’s got more features than most.

It tracks steps, distances covered and calories burned. You’ll also get the weather, reminders, and Facebook and Whatsapp notifications straight to your wrist.

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Rings

The ultimate way to propose to a nerd’s with one of these.

OPN by NFC

Kickstarted 5 years ago, the NFC Ring hit almost a quarter of a million in funding from a £30k target.

The name’s an E away from ‘open’, which loosely explains what the ring’s used for. And a mobile app controls what it can do:

  • Gestures using the palm side of the ring unlock secure things, like your phone or digital locks
  • Touching the outside of the ring shares data like URLs, social media identities or contact info

It’s like having a business card on your pinky. And contactless payment’s coming soon.

Check out the K Ring if you can’t wait to pay for stuff with fist bumps.

Blinq

Another Kickstarter project, Blinq produces good looking jewellery that just so happens to double as smart tech.

Made with real gemstones, Blinq rings are designed to keep you away from your phone: alerts from phone calls, texts and emails light up the rock on your finger as they come through.

Blinq’s key feature is its SOS alert: tap the ring until it vibrates and preselected contacts are immediately notified of your location.

Because smart rings are quite new, a lot of brands have only just started shipping them. Blinq’s only available to backers for now but keep an eye on them for the future.

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Glasses

Anyone remember Google Glass? It was essentially a way of wearing everyone’s favourite search engine right on your face. It didn’t do brilliantly, and so a couple of new names have come to the fore.

Vue

Like Garmin’s watch doesn’t look like an iPhone strapped to a friendship bracelet, Vue’s smart glasses don’t make you resemble a walking eye test. They look like a pair of hipster-ish frames, which betrays their advanced functionality:

“Vue uses bone conduction audio technology to transfer stereo sound to your inner ear without the use of earbuds”

Listen to music, take calls and get phone notifications by tapping and swiping on your specs. They aren’t available to ship yet but you’re OK to preorder some now.

Vuzix Blade Commercial Edge

Vuzix have a background in gaming and military contracts. And their Blade glasses pop your phone’s activity up on the lenses: tracking notifications, personal performance and the latest news stories.

“A hands-free extension of your smartphone that displays your digital life right in front of your eyes”

You’ve got Alexa, an 8 megapixel camera and 4 gigs of storage. As well as swipe and tap interactions, it’s also controlled by speech, head movements or a Vuzix app.

You’ll need a commercial edge if you’re chucking out a grand for a pair, but these are some of the more spoken about smart frames right now.

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Hearables

Absolutely sound when it comes to listening to music, smart devices are working their way into your aural canal.

Waverly Labs

These are earbuds that translate 15 languages in real time. They struggle a bit in noisy environments but work fine for a quick conflab from the boardroom.

You can also hand an earpiece to someone that doesn’t speak the same language as you, to have both translations working in tandem. The companion app will also transcribe your conversations for later.

Clothing

The ultimate in smart wearables is surely clothes. And there are lots of products doing the rounds. Most of which do things like track your fitness or shuffle songs.

Owlet Smart Sock

This one’s for parents in recruitment. It’s a pair of smart socks for your newborn.

They’re expensive at £300 a pop, but Owlet claim to identify potential health issues alongside tracking your baby’s pulse, breathing and sleep, through data sent straight to your mobile.

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How much the wearable market’s worth depends on who you speak to. Common consensus is it’s growing. Quickly.

Which means it’ll infiltrate your office soon if it hasn’t already.

Or your market. Probably both.

That could mean lots of new ‘wearables’ desks at agencies specialising in healthcare. Or the automotive industries. Or media. Or tech. Etcetera, etcetera.

In the meantime, what do workers think of wearables?

Mostly they’re great. If they add value. It’s hoped that being better supported and more efficient at work could reduce stress and increase productivity.

Although there’s a concern it’s just a flashy way of attaching an employee’s job to their body. So the jury’s still out for the time being.

Either way, if your market’s about to change, it makes sense your desk does too. And if money’s stopping you from investing in tech you can wear, just remember it’s Black Friday in a few weeks.

Happy shopping.