Is wearable tech in the workplace affordable?

Have you noticed how many employers are starting to introduce wearable wellbeing technology for staff?

Among the examples are Kronos, the workforce management solution company, which has been encouraging staff to use wearable technology for some time.

Kronos staff upload their activity from wearable devices to Kronos’ wellness portal, where each employee has a personalised profile and can earn points required for rewards.

Kronos is now looking where else wearable technology could be used in the workplace to improve safety, productivity, compliance and collaboration. Read report

In February we saw the announcement from Hitachi High-Technologies that they had developed a wearable badge that measures ‘happiness’ in the workplace. Read announcement

It was supposed to go on sale in April and Hitachi calls it Human Big Data at a cost of around £500 per year per employee.

Hitachi came up with a happiness algorithm based on how much you sit, stand, nod, type and walk around at work. The badge collects data 50 times a second throughout the day and sends it to cloud based servers in real time.

This week PSHPC’s highly respected MD John Dean announced that his new Havensrock income protection scheme is based on improving workplace health.

Reporting the launch, HR magazine said: 'Employees receive a Fitbug Orb movement and sleep tracker, which collects step, sleep and calorie data and comes with multiple wearable devices.

'A Wellbeing People interactive health kiosk in the office provides an annual health screen, which records general health indicators such as body mass index, body fat index, blood pressure and hydration.

'An online portal enables employees to tailor wellbeing challenges to suit their goals, combining the data from the Fitbug and health kiosk to track progress.'

The question I hear from a number of benefits managers is: how do we fund this? Wearables don’t come cheap.

My prediction is that most employers will turn to smartphone Apps. These are much cheaper to distribute to large numbers of staff and are being developed as we speak.

The Axa Health Tech and You Awards in March showed just how fast, and cleverly, this part of the market is developing.

Many of the entries, which went on display at the Design Museum in London, simply used smart phones to deliver health solutions very cheaply.

So watch this space, there is going to be an explosion of health tech.

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