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DATA DETECTIVES

The Potentially Super Creepy Future of Wearable Tech in the Workplace

A recent study found that the use of wearable data-capturing devices could help to increase employee productivity. But what will that future look like?
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Wearable data-tracking devices used at work and at home could help to boost employee productivity, according to research from Goldsmiths, University of London. And the possible future uses of such devices in a workplace setting might just be worthy of a sci-fi novel.

A study led by Dr. Chris Brauer at the Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths found that employees who wore three different wearable devices saw an 8.5 percent increase in productivity and a 3.5 percent increase in job satisfaction, Brauer wrote in a post on CNN.

The preliminary study is part of a two-year project called The Human Cloud at Work, collaboration between Goldsmiths and open cloud company Rackspace.

The participants were either part of a control group or a device-wearing group. Those who wore devices rotated between using three different products: the GENEActiv wristband, which measures movement and activity; the NeuroSky Mindwave headband, which monitors brain activity; and the LUMOback posture coach. 

When it to came to describing how the study was carried out, Brauer discussed few details -- i.e. how many participants there were and how productivity was measured. But he did say that the researchers are in the process of expanding the study's sample size and duration.

'Employee Optimization'

Discussing a futuristic -- and Big Brother-esque -- fictional scenario, Brauer detailed what he thinks will be the long-term implications of wearable tech in the workplace.

"Chloe" is a 20-something conscientious professional.

"This behavioral data from her wearables can empower Chloe," Brauer said. "She can develop a biometric CV and demand a work environment be optimized for her from environmental design to working hours." 

But Chloe's employer can also use these biometric data to determine how best to optimize her, Brauer suggested. For example, a CEO could consult a real-time dashboard in order to determine which of his employees he should send to a big pitch meeting. 

"Peter is in the midst of a particularly poor productivity cycle and Chole had way above average sleep quality the night before and her sleep quality is strongly and positively correlated with her job performance," he wrote. Therefore, looking at this wearable-generated data, the CEO decides to send Chole to the meeting.

"And if this decision wins the contract, can you blame them? They are, after-all, paying the salaries of Chloe and Peter to deliver results at work," Brauer said.

IMAGE: Courtesy Company
Last updated: May 6, 2014

LAURA MONTINI | Staff Writer

Laura Montini is a reporter at Inc. She previously covered health care technology for Health 2.0 News and has served as an associate editor at The Health Care Blog. She lives in San Francisco.




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