Do you know anyone who owns a smartwatch? How about a Fitbit? The chances are you know several, or at least a few, folks who are among the millions of American consumers using wearable technology. About 21 percent of Americans say they own a smartwatch or fitness tracker, according to a Pew Research Center survey, and wearable tech shipments grew by 24 percent amid the pandemic in 2020. It seems everyone is jumping on the wearable tech bandwagon nowadays, including industries like construction, health care, and, yes, facilities and building management.
The practical applications of wearable tech for building owners and facility managers are broader than you may think. From safety to building access to assisting maintenance workers with repairs, wearable tech like smartwatches, Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) wristbands, and even ‘smart boots’ are beginning to gain ground in the workplace. Wearable tech is already becoming ubiquitous in our personal lives, so it may only be a matter of time before FMs and building owners use these devices more.
However, there are a few obstacles to keep in mind. One big challenge is privacy concerns, which some employees may not think about until you’re busy collecting data on them. Unless you live in a state that treats data collected from wearables as Protected Health Information (PHI), tech companies that sell these devices can and will probably share the data with third parties. Currently, HIPPA’s privacy regulations don’t apply to the wearable tech industry, so all that biometric data is technically fair game, something employees may not like so much in their personal or work lives.
But if used correctly and responsibly, wearable tech yields many benefits for FMs and building owners who want to check them out.