Wearable industrial tech is coming to a production line near you
From VR training to heads-up schematics, industrial wearables may be the wave of the future.
A Research and Markets report predicts massive growth in the industrial wearables market, with annual growth expected to be 50.2% between 2019 and 2024.
Valued at $1.1 billion USD in 2019, the report projects industrial wearable market growth to hit $8.9 billion USD in 2024.
Those numbers may seem low, especially given that TechRepublic has previously reported that the enterprise wearables market was valued at $10.5 billion USD in 2017, but that isn’t the case.
SEE: Special report: The rise of Industrial IoT (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Industrial wearables have a narrower focus that represent a subset of the overall business wearables market. As opposed to office and retail wearables, industrial wearables are hardware that’s unique in use and design tailored to production lines, factory floors, and warehouses.
One example of industrial wearable tech in action comes from a petrochemical plant in Mexico that adopted several of Honeywell’s wearable products. Video assistance, paperless workflows, and on-call help led to quality increases, improved safety, and more productivity.
The report (purchase required for access) also cites a number of potential industrial wearable applications, including:
- Projection of instructions onto a heads-up display;
- Real-time communication with experts when executing difficult tasks; and
- Virtual reality training of new employees.
There are nearly limitless applications for wearable tech in industrial settings which, combined with the skyrocketing growth of industrial IoT hardware, could lead to a total transformation of industrial work.
The big hurdle to industrial wearable adoption
The report isn’t only filled with good news for wearable manufacturers and their customers: There are a couple of roadblocks that could prevent the industry’s growth.
Data security and privacy issues are both mentioned as potential issues. There’s reason to believe that these concerns are valid, too: Industrial IoT adoption, which arguably contains wearables, has made the manufacturing industry a ripe target for attack.
As reported previously by TechRepublic, analysis of industrial networks found higher levels of malicious activity than was expected in 2018, indicating that attackers had already penetrated many networks and were conducting reconnaissance.
The nature of IoT networks means that a lot of sensitive data is being passed between sensors and other connected devices, all of which could be harvested by an attacker. Adding wearables to the mix only gives attackers one more type of data to exploit.
Along with data theft, privacy for those wearing the devices is at risk as well. If an attacker is able to harvest business data there’s nothing stopping them from potentially stealing personal data about employees wearing connected devices either.
Businesses that are entering the industrial wearables realm, whether as manufacturers or users, should work hard to ensure security is a top priority. With the industrial IoT and wearables markets still in their infancy businesses have a chance to implement best practices before a major breach becomes a headline.