Is that a computer on your wrist, or are you just pleased to see me?

Wearable computing generated a buzz at this year's Consumer Electronics Show. Business use might not be far behind.

If consumers are going to use wearable devices to use online services, then it makes sense for businesses to find ways to integrate them with their existing channels.

It is hard to envisage consumers today buying, say, a smart watch that could not connect to Twitter or Facebook. One of the problems with MSN Direct's service was it used one-way radio to receive data. The watches couldn't send any information back to the internet.

And, if consumers are going to use wearable devices to use online services, then it makes sense for businesses to find ways to integrate them with their existing channels. Working with wearables will mean thinking about much simpler interfaces, and making much more use of speech recognition and synthesis technology, to take just two examples.

But perhaps more interesting still is the potential for wearables as business technology. In a new report, The Enterprise Wearables Journey, Forrester analyst JP Gownder argues that wearable technology has the potential to solve both physical and virtual world technologies for businesses.

This, he argues, goes far beyond smart watches, or even Google Glass. Companies are already developing garments and tools that incorporate sensors, GPS, haptic feedback and low-energy displays.

Some of the most immediate uses for this technology is in healthcare, but it has other uses too: communications and security, but also areas such as engineering, product design and testing and, in fact, anything that needs to combine sensors, data recording or display, and extreme portability.

As Gownder suggests, some wearable technology will integrate better with the enterprise's back-end IT systems than existing consumer devices, removing some of the problems caused by BYOD.

Wearables may still be a few years away from being a mainstream technology. But it is certainly not too early to look at how to integrate them into the enterprise.

Stephen Pritchard is a contributing editor at IT Pro.

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