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February 21, 2013

Be Aware of Wearable Computing

By Dave Courbanou

For CIOs savvy on the technology buzz, Two major technology companies are starting a wearable computing revolution: Apple is allegedly readying the iWatch, while Google accelerates its promise of releasing its Glass glasses-styled device.

Rewind to April 2012 for the example of Bob Executive, whose digitally connected lifestyle let him use smart devices to check into work, unlock his computer and inform his employees he would be 10 minutes late. At the time, it was feasible, but still closer to science fiction.

Today, the industry is on the cusp of Apple’s and Google’s products hitting the consumer space inside the next two years – and it’s possible these devices will spur a faster pace of change than the mobile revolution brought to the workplace.

Why? In part, the cloud. Within the last year, cloud usage has grown exponentially, and so too has the sophistication and breadth of devices that connect and take advantage of these cloud services. BYOD plans have adjusted to this change, taking into account application management over individual device restrictions.

The primary reason this technology will permeate even faster that its tablet counterparts is well explained by Gartner: Cost and value within wearable computing has not been proven over the years — until now. The ubiquitous and easy-to-use nature of these devices will create “personal cloud services and ecosystems [at] the center of the digital consumer experience.”

As it was with tablets, it will be with mobile computing. This will spur additional device adoption, strengthening the reliance on personal cloud services. As these devices shrink in size and require less interaction to use, they will be more like automated systems than personal computing devices, further driving a reliance on ubiquitous network connectivity.

What will wearable computing mean for the workplace? According to Gartner, it means a network of “connected device and personal cloud services” that interact with “sensor-driven ‘invisible’ devices that are optimized for a particular set of functions.” CIOs may manage network operations and endpoints not part of the standard client-server world. On-premises servers could become a thing of the past, but a data center gateway with advanced wireless infrastructure will be the norm.

The trade-off will be worth it. For example, Google Glass could kick-start your conference call once entering a board room. An Apple iWatch could unlock any computer with your single sign-on credentials. In the lunchroom? Either device could automatically update UC presence status. These devices could even be used as authentication measures: If two devices are not within pairing range, the paired computer or tablet will be locked or restricted.

While it’s not prudent to build a business plan around this kind of technology today, investments can be made in wireless infrastructure and device management, which could pay dividends as wearable devices seep in. Once they do, one thing is for certain: Wearable computing will set off the next big wave of consumerization in

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