Smartwatches, VR will only find their place if we think differently

Credit: Rommel Canlas /

When Google Glass first came out, our colleagues over at DisruptiveViews couldn’t stop laughing. They imagined people walking down the street, winking and blinking and bumping into things. They found spoofs on YouTube of, er, an adult nature (content warning), which they thought were very funny.

And then Google pulled Glass, and they said ‘I told you so’ and looked irritatingly smug.

Then Glass came back, and Google said ‘we meant it for industry verticals all along, so stop thinking consumer for this stuff’.

It seems that several of the over-hyped technologies around at the moment are still trying to find their place in the world.

And that place is much more likely to be in the enterprise than in the home, where consumers live, laugh and play.

We see Singapore’s Changi airport has introduced smartwatches for its ground crews to make the airport more efficient, increase the number of on-time flights and therefore improve the overall customer experience.

The majority of consumers who tried smartwatches have already put them in the drawer next to their fitbit (which will be a great tool when it is managed by the medical community) and other things that looked really cool when they were launched.

It is also very easy to laugh at virtual reality (VR). Images of people waving their arms about and looking, let’s face, a little bit silly, are everywhere.

To deliver VR, though, you need serious, 5G like, bandwidth and very, very low latency. Tilt your head when you look at someone. Your brain adjusts in something like 10 milliseconds. That is how quick and reliable your network needs to be to deliver a proper VR experience.

Yet take VR to the enterprise and begin to think of applications and suddenly it begins to make a lot more sense. Maintenance and service of critical machines can now be done by the on-site technician because the supplier’s engineer can see exactly what he can see and what he is doing. The efficiencies will be big.

Think training in the same fields. Oil rigs are dangerous places, unless you train your engineers using VR in the comfort of your own training rooms.

While it is always satisfying to laugh when new technology is so over-hyped it suddenly makes no sense in the consumer world, then think ‘enterprise’ and it makes much more sense.

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