Seriously, Wigs? The Effect Of Wearable Technology In 2014

Sony SmartWig

Sony has filed a patent application for “SmartWig“, as companies continue the tousle to lead the way in wearable technology. It says the SmartWig can be worn “in addition to natural hair”, and will be able to process data and communicate wirelessly with other external devices.

As fun as it sounds, this signifies just how seriously these technology companies feel wearable technology is becoming. Companies like Sony don’t invest this kind of money for fun, they do it for big bucks and I predict that 2014 is the year that wearable technology goes from something people snigger at to something that becomes second nature at home and within the workplace. Small strides are already being made… how many of us will have unwrapped the hi-Fun hi-Call, Bluetooth Gloves from John Lewis on Christmas Day?

Sony predicts that the SmartWig will have practical uses in business. For example, it could be used in presentations where a wearer can ‘move to the next presentation slide or back to the preceding presentation slide by simply raising his/her eyebrows’. Also in the healthcare sector, collecting information such as temperature, pulse and blood pressure of the wearer and transmitting them to the server computer.

BYOD 2014

However, the question being asked by IT professionals in 2014 is how workplace networks will cope with consumer-driven wearable gadgets. If smart wigs, watches, glasses and gloves become as commonplace as an iPhone or HTC are today, the impact on corporate IT must not be underestimated.

These devices need to pair with an “original” device. They don’t replace phones, tablets and computers; they are in addition. Smart wigs, shoes, handbags and many other accessories will multiply the number of devices accessing the network. For those who found BYOD a challenge, expect the wearable technology revolution to be like BYOD x 100.

And then there are security considerations. Google Glass enables the wearer to record everything that he/she sees. Similarly, smartwatches have cameras and recording facilities. Although this seems very 007, the reality is that discreetly transferring sensitive competitive information to a device outside the network could become as easy as a flick of the wrist or the scratch of an ear.

Managing Wearable Technology

A recent survey on behalf of Ipswitch asked IT professionals what their New Year Resolutions for IT network management will be for 2014. 36 percent said they wished for more time to develop BYOD policies and 31 percent wanted to focus on security policies.

Being prepared will greatly mitigate against BYOD chaos. Organisations that tackle the challenges of BYOD in terms of policies, security, network management and monitoring will find themselves at a huge advantage when this technology enters the workplace. There are three simple steps that can be embraced in the New Year that will ensure that an organisation is not on the back foot:

1. Prepare For An Increased Data Flow

The flow of data through networks will become more complex. While many of the gadgets will access networks via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, they will typically require connection to a laptop, computer or tablet for the purposes of syncing data, which could further slow down the network.

Reactive, on the fly network monitoring and intrusion detection that is not backed by tailor-made policies and infrastructure will result in a big slowdown to company networks. To avoid capacity and security issues, organisations need to start preparing carefully for these scenarios in advance. Scale out or scale up.

2. Create Policies For Usage

If a business is going to embrace wearable technology, and many would argue it is only a matter of time until businesses are forced to, it will require clear policies determining who is allowed to bring the equipment into the workplace and connect to the network.

3. Review Security

The two main ways wearables will impact the IT network are in the areas of access and endpoint security. Whereas many organisations find that per employee they have one to three devices accessing the network, in a matter of years this could rocket to 15 to 20 per employee. Enterprises need to prepare for the main modes of access being Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. In the case of Wi-Fi, careful attention needs to be paid to the infrastructure’s ability to cope with the influx.

From a security standpoint, gaining oversight and managing the data that goes through the network will be the biggest challenge. Firstly, determining that devices accessing the network or the information being transmitted are legitimate. Secondly, the wave of different devices seeking access will leave networks vulnerable to malicious attacks in the form of viruses and other cyber threats.

Alessandro Porro

Alessandro Porro is the vice president of international sales for the Ipswitch network management division. Alessandro joined Ipswitch in 2004, shortly thereafter becoming director of sales for Asia Pacific and Latin America, increasing revenues from those regions by more than 300% in his first three years in that role, and after which he was promoted to oversee the division's entire international interests and profitability, increasing revenues 468% through all channels in the span of six years. Alessandro spent over 12 years successfully leading international sales both in the IT and manufacturing sectors, in Latin America (Southern Cone), Europe (Germany/Italy), and the United States. Alessandro attended Boston University's BA/MA program in international economics. Alessandro still likes to reminisce about the years during which he was a semipro soccer player, but he currently enjoys spending his down time cooking, writing, and playing with his daughter Maia Elyse.