There’s debate as to whether the workplace is ready for wearables. This is hardly surprising when most wearables seem to have fitness – rather than business – in mind. Even among smartwatches, functionality is often limited to notifications rather than productivity. We cut through the ordinary to show you which ones stand out, and which ones are worth your curiosity.
Samsung Gear S
The only brand-name smartwatch to feature its own network connectivity, Samsung Gear S stands out from the rest of the crowd in allowing you to finally make phone calls and send SMS over 3G. While these additions don’t eliminate the need for a smartphone altogether, it breaks down the gap between functionality-driven smartphones and notification-based smart watches that often fail to distinguish themselves. The Gear S runs on its own Tizen-based operating system and also features Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity.
Read more: Samsung’s Gear S wearable boasts 3G
Unveiled months before its spring 2015 release, the company’s first wearable may alienate some potential customers by requiring an iPhone or iPad to work, but it should nevertheless not be written off for business application. The Apple watch can reportedly make phone calls, receive messages, and control the Apple TV, given that it has been paired with the correct device, but its trump card may come in the form of Apple Pay, although the company has yet to elaborate on how this feature would be implemented.
Microsoft may have surprised many with their first wearables offering that is in the form factor of a fitness band but look past its deceptive exterior and you’ll find that it is more productive than most heart monitors. The device allows for email previews, calendar notifications, displays text messages, and can even generate a bar code that allows Microsoft Band owners to pay at a Starbucks. Not only does the functionality of the Band rival that of smart watches, the Microsoft Band stands out in the area of compatibility – the device syncs with Windows Phone, Android or iPhone.
Read more: Microsoft to announce wearable cross-platform device
Wearables are not limited to smartwatches, however. Some, like Wristify, manage to stand out with a completely unique purpose. The bracelet, which was among ten finalists at the Intel “Make It Wearable” Challenge, can regulate your body’s temperature and reduce reliance on heating or air conditioning. It does this by sending waves of heating or cooling to the inside of your wrist in a continuous manner, tricking your body into feeling a couple degrees warmer or cooler. Imagine everyone in the office being able to control a personal air conditioning and cutting down on cooling expenditures.
Placing third out of 400 submissions in the Intel contest is ProGlove, a wearable specifically designed for the professional production process, such as car manufacturers. More a “tool” than trendy accessory, the ProGlove hosts a slew of sensors to offer information on what the wearer is working with, such as the ability to scan barcodes, detect the thickness of a material, displaying an object’s temperature, voltage, offer instructions and more.
Few device makers have found as useful a purpose for tracking the wearer’s heartbeat as Toronto-based Bionym has with the Nymi wristband. It combines proximity sensors with a user’s unique cardiac rhythm to allow for biometric authentication. Imagine unlocking doors, your car, phone, computers and more thanks to your heart’s natural beat. The company imagines a “smart, password and key-free environment.”
Read more: Canadian firm Bionym integrates wearable tech with Salesforce app