Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Workplace wearables: Your boss knows when you've had a good night's sleep?

The future will be bright in all those augmented realities. <a href='http://www.google.com/glass/start/' target='_blank'>Google Glass</a> is the wearable computer that responds to voice commands and displays information on a visual display. The future will be bright in all those augmented realities. Google Glass is the wearable computer that responds to voice commands and displays information on a visual display.
HIDE CAPTION
Eyeing you up
20 wearable technologies of the future
Don't sweat it
Dirt Vader
Impact on the future
Sweet vibrations
Smokin' hot
What's your poison?
Fist-Bump your phone
Light me up!
Track it down
Shine on
Emotidress
Climate control
Safety sock
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • What effect will wearables have in the workplace?
  • Dr Chris Brauer's team has found some "startling" results
  • Productivity of those wearing wearables increased by 8.5%
  • Job satisfaction increased by 3.5% but alertness fell by 9%

Editor's note: Dr Chris Brauer is a senior lecturer in the Institute of Management Studies and Director of the Human Cloud at Work research project at Goldsmiths, University of London in collaboration with Rackspace, the open cloud company. Follow him on Twitter.

(CNN) -- We know how wearable tech can enhance our fitness lives; some of us use it to track our diets and even record our daily entertainment choices; but there's evidence that its most significant application is yet to come: the workplace.

The Human Cloud at Work is an experimental design research collaboration between the Institute of Management Studies (IMS) at Goldsmiths, University of London and Rackspace, the open cloud company -- assessing the impact of wearable technologies on productivity and performance in the workplace.

Dr Chris Brauer
Dr Chris Brauer

During a month-long preliminary study participants were equipped with three devices: the GENEActiv high-velocity accelerometer wristband, which measures movement and activity; the NeuroSky Mindwave portable biosensor EEG, which monitors brain activity; and the LUMOback posture and activity coach.

Initial results show that productivity of those using the wearable tech increased by 8.5% and job satisfaction by 3.5%. We're in the process of increasing our sample size and study duration to assess the longer-term implications of these findings.

However, while it'll be interesting to see how individual workers harness wearable tech to improve their performance, its the organizations themselves that -- in my view -- stand to benefit most if the technology is broadly adopted in the workplace.

Making sea water drinkable
Artificial leaf mimics nature
Is wireless electricity within reach?

Why? It's all about the data.

Consider this: using just machine data gathered from the three wearable devices it's possible to develop rich behavioral and lifestyle profiles of individuals and/or employees. How might an employer use this information to make better company decisions?

Let's look at "Chloe", a randomly selected and anonymized participant in our research. Using her wearable device data we learn her mid-sleep time is 3:45am, in the later quartile suggesting she is in her 20s.

In sleep profiling she is an Owl, not a Lark, with an active social life but not a party animal. Chloe is a conscientious individual, physically active but not a gym bunny, she lives close to work with a short commute of 90 minutes from waking, has no children, above average long daytime sedentary periods indicating potential future health risk, below average focus/concentration levels, and at her most productive on days when she has evening social events planned with friends.

This behavioral data from her wearables can empower Chloe. She can develop a biometric CV and demand a work environment be optimized for her from environmental design to working hours. She can schedule her big pitch meetings on afternoons when she knows she will be most productive. And she can choose a job that aligns with her lifestyle, health and well being aspirations, and productivity and performance expectations.

Of course organizations implementing software and cloud innovations can harness the power of the data as well. Some employers could have real-time executive dashboard resource allocation systems that will recommend a CEO assign Chloe to a big pitch meeting that afternoon instead of Peter because Peter is in the midst of a particularly poor productivity cycle and Chole had way above average sleep quality the night before and her sleep quality is strongly and positively correlated with her job performance.

This is a particularly rosy interpretation of how this data will be used.
Dr Chris Brauer

And if this decision wins the contract, can you blame them? They are, after-all, paying the salaries of Chloe and Peter to deliver results at work. Peter isn't put under undue pressure to perform when he has other priorities and considerations in his life and Chloe is only asked to step-up when she is optimally conditioned to perform at her highest level.

This is a particularly rosy interpretation of how this data will be used. Around the world, as in so many areas of emerging technology, regulatory and policy frameworks are struggling to adapt to the rapid emergence of wearables in the workplace. Handling behavioral data like that used to profile Chloe entail responsibilities that will lie with self-regulating organizations who will need to work within a social contract to collect and use this type of data sensitively and appropriately.

Read more from Make, Create, Innovate:

Forget wearable tech, embeddable implants are already here

Feeling glum, happy, aroused? New technology can detect your mood

Forget text messaging, the 'oPhone' lets you send smells

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dr Chris Brauer.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 1, 2014 -- Updated 1148 GMT (1948 HKT)
Imagine if going through airport security was just a matter of walking past a stretch of wall.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
From spotting allergens to counting calories, technology can lend a smart hand in the kitchen.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1326 GMT (2126 HKT)
Meet the 'Flavour Conductor', a magical instrument that took 10,000 hours to build and can change the taste of your drink through the power of sound.
September 3, 2014 -- Updated 1609 GMT (0009 HKT)
Mogees is a technology that turns any object into a musical instrument, by converting the vibrations you make when you touch it into sound.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1306 GMT (2106 HKT)
Scientists are attempting to harness the power of a star by mirroring how the sun produces heat and light. CNN's Nick Glass reports.
September 5, 2014 -- Updated 1137 GMT (1937 HKT)
Neil Harbisson is the world's first legally recognized cyborg. He has an antenna implanted into his skull that gives him the ability to perceive color.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1618 GMT (0018 HKT)
Move over, hoverboard: new technologies promise to make everything float free through levitation.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1645 GMT (0045 HKT)
Getting a foothold on the property ladder can be a challenge, and the prospects for many of us have been battered by the global recession.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
It's like a chair that isn't there, but magically appears whenever you need it. It's called the Chairless Chair. Find out how it works.
August 8, 2014 -- Updated 0939 GMT (1739 HKT)
Engineer Alan Bond has been developing a new concept for space travel for over 30 years -- and his creation is now on the verge of lift off.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1210 GMT (2010 HKT)
Crumbling buildings, burnt-out PCs, and cracked screens -- a new generation of "self-healing" technologies could soon consign them to history.
June 24, 2014 -- Updated 0909 GMT (1709 HKT)
Discover a dancing cactus field, basketball on the Hudson River, and mind-bending 3D projections on robotic screens.
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 1707 GMT (0107 HKT)
Would you live there? Design student Peter Trimble says it's actually a surprisingly good idea.
May 14, 2014 -- Updated 1450 GMT (2250 HKT)
Alpha Sphere
Singing Tesla coils, musical ice cream, vegetables on drums... and this ball? Find out how "hackers" have created a new generation of instruments.
May 28, 2014 -- Updated 1643 GMT (0043 HKT)
Technology has long learned from nature, but now it's going micro. "Cellular biomimicry" sees designers take inspiration from plant and animal cells.
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 1708 GMT (0108 HKT)
Forget wearable tech, embeddable implants are here. Learn more about the pioneers who are implanting devices into their bodies.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
A visitor of the 'NEXT Berlin' conference tries out Google Glass, a wearable computer that responds to voice commands and displays information before your eyes. It is expected to go to market in late 2013.
We know how wearable tech can enhance our fitness lives but there's evidence that its most significant application is yet to come: the workplace.
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 0813 GMT (1613 HKT)
Samsung's research unit announces new way to synthesize graphene, potentially opening the door to commercial production.
March 31, 2014 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
iRobot, creators of vacuuming robot Roomba reveal how they learned from secret experiments -- in space travel, minefields, and toys.
March 28, 2014 -- Updated 1623 GMT (0023 HKT)
A light-bulb glowing in middle of a room with no wires attached. "It's the future," says Dr Katie Hall.
March 3, 2014 -- Updated 1626 GMT (0026 HKT)
Knee replacements that encourage cells to regrow could soon be manufactured -- by spiders. Find out how.
February 14, 2014 -- Updated 1403 GMT (2203 HKT)
Meet Chuck Hull: the humble American engineer who changed the world of manufacturing.
February 6, 2014 -- Updated 1448 GMT (2248 HKT)
The key to self-knowledge? Or just the return of the phony "mood ring"? Check out our top mood-sensing technology in development.
ADVERTISEMENT