Wearable technology ranges from the most popular smartwatches, like Apple Watch or Fitbit trackers, to fashionable necklaces and headbands. Regardless of the form we choose, the benefits of wearables are becoming more commonplace every day. According to a report by Business Insider, 80% of consumers are willing to wear smart fitness technology and US consumer usage of wearable technology jumped from just 9% in 2014 to 33% in 2018.
Wearables have come a long way from the simple step counters and fitness trackers of the past and have become a major component of our daily wardrobe. A report by GlobalData predicts wearable technology sales will reach a whopping $54 billion by 2023. Why? Because today’s wearable technology allows us to track our activity throughout the day, stay connected at all times and any place, and can even help us provide and receive a better customer experience. From general connectedness to travel and hospitality management, wearable technology is changing the way we experience our everyday lives.
With wearable technology, we are more connected to each other than ever. In fact, according to MarketWatch and Statisa research, there will be more than 1 billion connected wearable devices by 2022, each with its own network and interactions. We no longer need to pull out our phones or open our laptops, but instead can just glance down at our wrists. We can read and answer texts, make phone calls, browse social media, participate in fitness challenges, and share our every move.
Starwood’s Aloft, Element, and W Hotels have been allowing guests to get into their rooms by using a smartwatch as a key since 2014 and last year, expanded these capabilities to a multitude of other hotels as well. Although this is certainly helpful, one of the most exciting uses of wearable technologies in the travel industry is the OceanMedallion owned by Carnival Corporation. The tiny 50g disc serves as a personal concierge of sorts throughout a guest’s cruise. It can be worn as a pendant or wristband, or can simply stay in the guest’s pocket.
The OceanMedallion serves as a ticket, a room key, and currency throughout the trip. It uses Near Field Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth to keep guests connected at all times with minimal interruption and no need to charge or power on the device. The OceanMedallion’s capabilities don’t stop there. It can also provide directions around the ship, help guests find their travel companions, and order food or drinks to be delivered anywhere on the ship. By integrating wearable technology into the cruise experience, patrons can have a smooth, worry-free trip.
As wearable devices continue to grow more sophisticated, they’re continuously able to gain deeper insights into our personal health each day. Wearable devices available today can monitor our sleep habits, track our heart rates and blood sugar levels, record our physical activity, and help our doctors and better understand our health.
For example, Apple’s Heart Study app can detect abnormalities in heart rates and alert users of any abnormalities, like atrial fibrillation, which can lead to blood clots, stroke, and other dangerous heart conditions. Other devices, such as Move ECG can measure a patient’s electrocardiogram and send results to their doctor in order to help monitor conditions outside of the doctor’s office.
Wearables in personal healthcare have helped reduce hospital visits and have inspired patients to better manage their own health. In fact, as mentioned in the Business Insider research above, 75% of users agree wearables help them engage better with their own health.
Engaged hospitality management
Wearable devices are relatively new to the hospitality field, but trials have been conducted in an airport and restaurant settings, which yielded significantly positive results. The Cincinnati Airport began providing their janitorial staff with Samsung Gear S3 smartwatches equipped with the TaskWatch app.
The watches allow them to stay on top of cleaning restrooms and replenishing supplies in a timely manner. Bluetooth sensors were added to the doorways and were able to alert janitorial workers as soon as 150 had passed through the restroom. The first responders to the alerts were then rewarded through a points system to incentivize quick turnaround.
Similarly, the TaskWatch app was implemented in a restaurant setting. It alerted wait staff and managers when new customers came in, when they were seated, as well as when the table was ready to be cleaned. This allowed servers to turn tables over an average of four minutes faster, which increased daily revenue by 7% and even provided a substantial boost to servers’ tips.
Wearable technology is becoming an integral part of our everyday lives. As it becomes more commonplace, we will begin to see even more applications and feel it’s life-enhancing effects.