Wearable industrial technology is coming to a production line near you

From VR training to heads-up schemes, industrial wearables can be the wave of the future.

Why many companies don’t think big enough about IoT
Business leaders must consider how IoT transforms industries and changes the world so that they can have an even greater impact with technology.

A report from Research and Markets predicts a huge growth in the market for industrial wearables, with an annual growth of 50.2% between 2019 and 2024.

The report has a value of $ 1.1 billion USD in 2019 and predicts a growth of the industrial portable market with $ 8.9 billion USD in 2024.

Those figures may seem low, especially since TechRepublic previously reported that the
market for enterprise wearables
was valued at $ 10.5 billion USD in 2017, but that is not the case.

SEE: Special report: The rise of Industrial IoT (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Industrial wearables have a narrower focus that represents a subset of the total market for business wearables. In contrast to office and retail wearables, industrial wearables are hardware that is unique in use and design is tailored to production lines, factory floors and warehouses.

An example of industrial wearable technology in action comes from a petrochemical plant in Mexico that has taken over various portable products from Honeywell. Video assistance, paperless workflows and on-demand assistance led to quality improvement, improved security and more productivity.

The report (purchase required for access) also lists a number of potential industrial portable applications, including:

  • Projection of instructions on a heads-up display;
  • Real-time communication with experts when performing difficult tasks; and
  • Virtual reality training for new employees.

There are almost unlimited applications for portable technology in industrial environments that, combined with the towering growth of industrial IoT hardware, can lead to a total transformation of industrial work.

The major hurdle for acceptance by portable industrial applications

The report is not only filled with good news for manufacturers of wearables and their customers: there are a number of roadblocks that can hamper the growth of the industry.

Data security and privacy issues are both mentioned as potential issues. There is reason to believe that these concerns also apply: industrial IoT acceptance, which demonstrably contains wearables, has made the manufacturing industry a ripe target for attacks.

As previously reported by TechRepublic, analysis of
industrial networks found higher levels of malicious activity
then it was expected in 2018, indicating that attackers have already penetrated many networks and carried out reconnaissance.

The nature of IoT networks means that much sensitive data is transmitted between sensors and other connected devices, all of which can be collected by an attacker. By adding wearables to the mix, attackers can exploit one more type of data.

In addition to data theft, privacy is also at risk for those who wear the devices. If an attacker can collect company data, nothing can prevent him from stealing personal information about employees wearing connected devices.

Companies entering the industrial wearables domain, as well as manufacturers and users, must work hard to ensure that security is a top priority. With the industrial IoT and wearables markets still in their infancy, companies have the opportunity to implement best practices before a major offense turns into a headline.

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