Do Smartwatches Have a Place in the Lab?
According to analyst firm IDC, smartwatch sales will jump 500% in 2015[i] led in large part to the interest of Apple Watch. Now, Apple Watch was not the first smartwatch on the market. Companies such as Pebble and Samsung had products on the market years ago. The hype behind Apple Watch however, has had a dramatic impact on the attention for the wrist-wear market. The success of the market ultimately will come down to applications and use cases. People who purchase smartwatches are looking for more than something that can keep time. If they are going to spend $200 to $10,000 on a digital smartphone companion, it better have a positive impact on their lives.
So what about lab professionals? Does the smartwatch have a place in the lab? While it may be too early to tell exactly how many lab professionals use wearable technology or if lab safety guidelines will keep the watches out of the lab, it is interesting to consider how they may be used. Consider these six ways how smartwatches may be helpful in a lab setting.
- Connect to smartphone via Bluetooth. Don’t want to keep your phone in your pocket while you work? Working with hazardous materials and wear gloves all day? With a smartwatch, you can get texts, emails and other messages pushed from your phone to your watch, and with a simple glance at your wrist, you are up to date. The ability to glance at your wrist at the same information that is sent to your phone, makes smartwatches convenient hands-free communications solutions.
- Voice control. Another benefit of hands-free is the ability to use voice commands to text a colleague or activate apps such as the Google search features. Need to track a specific test result, but can’t write it down? Simply tell your watch to launch the notes app and then dictate your results as you go.
- Verify time and measure. Need to time a test or convert pounds into ounces? Use your voice to start and stop a timer, or to launch a measurement app to make sure you stay accurate.
- Stay informed. Tracking research via Google alerts or monitoring the weather for your weekend getaway? You can set up your watch so that the latest research and travel tips are pushed right to your screen.
- Respond to messages automatically. Won’t have time to respond to emails, texts and social media alerts? Depending on your smartwatch, you can use your voice to reply or create canned responses that will automatically send a message back to whomever is trying to reach you. This way, friends, family and coworkers will know that you are in the middle of lab work and not ignoring them.
- Health Tracker. Curious how many steps you take everyday as you work around the lab? Spending too much time sitting on a stool looking into the microscope? You can use your smartphone to set up reminders to encourage you to up out of your seat and set step goals to motivate you to move around during the day.
These are just a few of the ways that a smartwatch may be useful in the lab. Undoubtedly as the technology improves, there will be more. In fact, apps are being developed and released every day that increase their viability for a number of industries. The ability to access information with simple glances, communicate without hands and track activities with your voice makes smartwatches attractive technology for lab professionals.