In 2014, marketsandmarkets.com published a report that predicted the smart offices market would reach $43 billion by 2020. Two years on, it looks like the predictions are playing out as people spend more and more of their time online: accessing digital information, communicating through digital platforms and connecting to the cloud via smart connected products.
One expanding use of smart products in the workplace is monitoring health and gathering data about our bodies. Smart products can collect, store, and share easy-to-read health and fitness data, and this revolution is now making its way into our professional environment. The need to improve health in the workplace is a given: Unhealthy employees can be debilitating for businesses, resulting in increased sick days and even extended sick leaves. How can employers utilize connected products to help their employees maintain healthy habits at work? Here are several ideas.
The Smart Office
One of the most frequently used products in the work environment, and the one with the greatest impact on long-term health, is the standard office chair. Most chairs adjust according to height but do nothing about bad posture, leading to back pain and other health issues. Smart office chairs can alert users when they slouch or sit with bad posture, and signal when the user sits correctly. They can also measure the length of time that the employee sits and indicate when he or she should get up, walk or stretch, or other customized recommendations for specific users. A connected app can present the employee with data from their smart device: how long they sat at one time, which habits needs correcting, and how to break bad habits through customized recommended programs.
Several components can be utilized in order to make a chair connected and send valuable data:
- Pressure detectors measure the body’s pressure on strategic points on the chair
- Weight sensors measure the body’s mass on a chair
- Motion detectors monitor body movement while sitting
Smart Construction and Hardware Tools
Any environment, whether an office space or a construction site, can become a smart workplace. Smart products can monitor employees who use tools to perform their job. One Seebo client decided to convert a simple hammer into a smart hammer. Though it might sound like an unconventional choice of product to make ‘smart’ and connected to a mobile device, the hammer delivered valuable information. It monitored impact and quantity of hits, alerted workers once a pre-set number of hits had been reached, and provided tips on how to hold the hammer for better results.
Drills, jack hammers, electric saws, grinders – almost any hardware tool can be utilized to monitor and prevent excessive or incorrect usage that could otherwise lead to injury. Components may include:
- Impact sensors that monitor how the tool hits.
- Accelerometer which helps the user to operate the tool better.
- Vibration sensors that detect the tool’s vibrations and alert the user when they should ideally take a break.
Smart wearables can also assist employees and employers by tracking their health and enabling a healthier work environment. Smart shoes are one type of smart wearable that have been drawing greater attention in the past couple of years. Forget gel and aerodynamic soles – adding sensors can help people through instant feedback: Monitoring the way they walk, run or jump; helping them maintain better form; and recording how many steps they take in a given day. Here are some relevant sensors to add:
- Pressure sensors – To measure how much pressure the user puts on the shoes.
- Motion detectors – Understand how one uses the shoes while performing different tasks.
Build a healthy, smart workplace through IoT technology
Whether in clothing, hardware tools, or furniture, smart connected products can improve our lives equally at home and in the office. As time goes on, the line between where consumers use the Internet of Things will further blur, as manufacturers produce multi-purpose smart products with more and more features and users come to rely on them to improve their health.
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