Integrating Data from Wearable Devices for a More Intelligent Business

Scott Coles, CEO, Optalert and James Gorry, VP Global Sales, Optalert
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Scott Coles, CEO, Optalert

The world today is full of data. Increasingly that data is being generated from the emerging array of wearable technology devices now entering the business domain. The coming year will see a rapid acceleration of the use of wearables into the workplace. Businesses are inevitably going to encounter more and more wearable technologies and the data, security, policy and privacy concerns they generate. Security issues with BYOD or (Bring Your Own Device) have created further headaches for the CIO with this wearable technology explosion.

“Our solution has always been in the wearable technology category but with recent improvements in battery life, we have evolved to wireless glasses and portable hand held monitors”

In 2015 we are expecting a burst of new products released. Watches, bracelets and wristbands, smart glasses, clothing, smart phone apps and a wide array of wearable devices will bring a vast increase in the levels of data into business networks. Increasingly we have businesses wanting to realize the value of this data. It is likely companies will focus risk management strategies on data from wearable devices. Business intelligence and actuaries will use this data to analyze and generate risk profiles with the goal of becoming more competitive and intelligent businesses. We have this very functionality in our company’s reporting tools and we have seen a significant increase in demand from our clients in this specific area.James Gorry, VP Global Sales, Optalert

Currently wearable devices are present in many categories. These include medical, industrial, sport, lifestyle, fitness, entertainment and even animals. Several analyst sources predict this market will grow to over 100 million devices in 2018 from current device numbers of around 10 million or more. An abundance of consumer wearable devices communicating with user mobile phones via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and their user achievements are not only shared with friends on social media for kudos and competitive excitement, but also via clouds and other less secure data points. There is a real world environment of mobile health devices and they are generating some high value data which can save lives, avert danger and drive better health outcomes for staff, companies and the safety of citizens.

Our experience in this space, particularly in global mining companies, has led us on a journey detecting the early onset of drowsiness and preventing the micro sleep from causing accidents and fatalities. Our scientifically- proven solution involves wearing a pair of glasses that detect the early onset of drowsiness by observing the human eye and its unique behaviours. Our solution has always been in the wearable technology category but with recent improvements in battery life, we have evolved to wireless glasses and portable hand held monitors.

One of the most important factors with wearable technology is the independent validation. As with many technologies, there are vast marketing claims made of greatness in this sector, but unfortunately this wearable space often lacks independent clinical and scientific validations. The value of the data needs to be independently validated and not self-proclaimed to be of real value. This for us has been a key differentiator for our technology in our client base globally. We have spent significant time and there have been no short cuts in our process – we have spent more than 150 man-years of research over 20 years to get us to where we are today.

The process of validation in our company has involved well respected research centers including Harvard medical school and many independent clinical tests. We are now regarded as setting the standard in early-warning drowsiness detection, which is a critical factor in our success and acceptance into business. We have also validated our IP though not only our own physicians and independent clinical trials but also through the commercialisation of a product into mining and road transportation. These sectors really value the data we provide and how it saves lives.

As with most businesses, our clients want to improve safety while simultaneously increasing yield and productivity. Of course in the mining and transportation sector, drowsiness is a major causal factor in impaired performance, higher distraction, poor judgement and delayed reaction time in much the same way as alcohol intoxication. To combat the negative impacts our clients use our drowsiness-detection solution and the data it generates. We treat the data from our drowsiness detection solution in a multi-layered approach with three main areas of impact.

First layer – operators see their drowsiness data levels at a glance and auditory alarms indicate when an operator’s drowsiness or fatigue score is reaching higher risk levels.

Second layer – managers and control room staff monitor real-time drowsiness levels of their entire fleet, anywhere in the world via the Individual Risk Indicator System (IRISTM) and through the use of instant messaging and emails. The IRIS™ is a graphical interface simplifying the display of all data feeds.

Third layer – risk mitigation. Real-time data collected by the system can be used for a number of risk mitigation initiatives including shift adjustment and task rostering.

There is another emerging trend around wearable technology – behavioral change. This has been noticeable over the past few years and it is a by product of wearable devices. Providing objective data to the employee allows them the opportunity to see how their own behavior during work and outside work hours affects performance. This level of self-awareness enables them to make behavioral changes and often improves their performance, efficiency and health.

I believe the future is going to be interesting. The level of transparency will increase, and the history of an individual’s lifestyle choices will become more significant for audit and profiling risk. Users of wearable devices will become more aware “big brother” could be watching and their actions are being monitored 24/7. Of course this data is just like a digital fingerprint and it needs to be protected. There will need to be a focus on policies and procedures to ensure security and protect the data and the individual.

Businesses incorporating wearable technology who also realize the data’s value will further generate intelligent business value and a strong return on investment.

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