How wearable tech and AR deployments are shaping up in the enterprise
MWC In an entertaining session at Mobile World Congress, Vishal Shah, VP business development at Atheer Labs, and Paul Gunther, co-founder and CEO of ProGlove, outlined their visions for why the enterprise remains king for wearable tech and augmented reality.
“The potential for smart glasses and wearables is immense, but a lot of that potential is going to be realised, we believe, in the enterprise space,” says Vishal Shah, VP business development at Atheer Labs. “People tried using wearables on faces, smart glasses in the consumer market, and we all know how that turned out.
“Our focus is definitely the enterprise market, and we believe this is a $10 billion plus market in the next five years for us.”
Atheer coins its target audience as the “fast workers” – some 110 billion professionals whose need for first class data overlaps with their need to not be glued to a device. “They want content from the cloud – rich content – that they need to take advantage of while in the field,” says Shah. “We strongly believe smart glasses, especially with rich content and interactive gestures, can solve their problems.”
For Paul Gunther, CEO and co-founder of ProGlove, there was “huge potential” for wearables 18 months ago in what he calls his ‘home’ industry – manufacturing and logistics. As the name suggests, the startup creates wearable barcode scanners with sensors integrated, as opposed to sensor wristbands, with many of the firm’s employees previously working at BMW.
Gunther argues two reasons manufacturing is tailor made for wearables; the automation process, and the fact more primitive wearable technology exists in the form of helmets, safety shoes, and gloves. “We don’t have to change a habit,” he explains.
The ProGlove CEO asserts five key reasons why enterprise wearables differ from consumer variants; cycle times; plug and play; hygiene and privacy; robustness; and instant value. The former, Gunther notes, is particularly interesting. “[For enterprise wearables], it might take a couple of months until you have your project through the purchase department,” he explains, “you may have to deliver spare parts for your device, and maybe it takes more than a year to integrate your device into the enterprise because of the IT department.”
ProGlove’s MVPs are also of interest. We’ve heard the case of one swimming wearable device vendor whose minimum viable product was an iPhone in a plastic bag strapped to one’s wrist, and ProGlove initially put together a ‘box strapped to the arm’. “It is important to fail early, and also to learn early,” he says.
Shah says Atheer’s focus is on the enterprise high ROI use cases for now, with the prosumer and consumer market developing for two and five years respectively, while Gunther’s mission is simply to “make every professional glove smart.”
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