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Wearable technology challenges include proving value, lack of prep

Implementing wearable tech for business use comes with a unique set of challenges, IT professionals said at the recent Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit in Boston. During the conference, SearchCIO sat down with Bradd Busick, CIO at mechanical contractor MacDonald-Miller, and Brian Laughlin, technical fellow, strategic technical planning and IT architecture at Boeing, to get their take.

In this video, Busick and Laughlin discuss wearable technology challenges they have faced first-hand and ones that others continue to face when jumpstarting these types of projects. Companywide adoption and acceptance, physical durability, and developing a real understanding of the business problem that needs to be solved ranked at the top of their lists.

Editor's note: The following transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

What are the key wearable technology challenges that you and others have faced?

Bradd Busick: There were a couple [wearable technology challenges] that jumped out right away. The speed of adoption differed depending on the demographic we were going after. The construction vertical is a really interesting vertical in that it's not really fast to adopt technology. It's not like Silicon Valley. Even though we're in Seattle and we're progressive, it's still construction.

Make sure that you understand what the problem truly is, and then develop the best business practice for how to address that problem.
Brian Laughlintechnical fellow, strategic technical planning and IT architecture, Boeing

There were some naysayers out of the gate who essentially questioned the validity of the tech and whether the tech would help them do their job better. So, we walked into that with them saying, 'Well, look, try it. If you don't like it, you don't have to use it.' And, of course, once their customers got to see the videos they were taking on site of their equipment, they went back to these techs and said, 'Oh my God, this is amazing. Thank you for this.' Suddenly, [the company] saw the value of the technology and adoption was no longer an issue.

The second issue that we ran into was just the wear and tear of that equipment in a construction market. We're really hard on equipment, so we quickly backed over things, dropped them, stepped on them and had them fall off buildings. We had to learn through that process, as well as how the warranty works and how to troubleshoot some of those issues in real-time on the job site.

Brian Laughlin: Some of the key challenges for implementing wearable technologies include making sure that you really understand what problem you're trying to solve. Also, these solutions and the technologies that you use in the solutions require infrastructure. It's not as simple as just pulling a thing out of the box and instantly everything works. There's programming that has to be done. There's model decimation, in the example of [augmented reality]. There's a lot of background prep that you need to be doing in addition to really investigating the problem to make sure that you understand what the problem truly is, and then develop the best business practice for how to address that problem. Then, and only then, can you apply the appropriate technology.

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