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Enterprise smartwatch use is catching on

Matt Hamblen | May 17, 2017
Cincinnati airport janitors use smartwatches to get notified when a restroom needs cleaning.

Smartwatches are getting a foothold in the enterprise.

In the latest example of a trial, Samsung Galaxy S3 smartwatches are helping janitors do timely cleanups of restrooms at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Another successful four-month Samsung smartwatch trial last fall gave restaurant servers alerts when customers arrived or needed service.

The smartwatches run an app called TaskWatch made by Samsung partner Hipaax. In the airport example, janitors are notified when and where a restroom needs to be cleaned and restocked. Bluetooth sensors at the restroom doorways count the number of users. When 150 customers have passed through a restroom, a notification is sent to the janitorial team.

An employee who is part of janitorial team can click the smartwatch to accept the cleaning task and will get reward points for being the first to do so. Six employees are testing the smartwatches in a trial that began last October.

The TaskWatch app has provided real-time insights about restroom visits, which can vary greatly based on flight arrivals and departures. As such, the app is an improvement over old-fashioned paper work schedules, said Brian Cobb, vice president of customer relations at the airport, in an email. "Housekeeping staff get a break from the routine and are prepared to be more nimble," he said.

At first, the airport trial used Wi-Fi connections to the smartwatches, which provided only intermittent connections. The airport switched to cellular connectivity to the Gear S3 watches which led to greater maintenance team satisfaction, Cobb said. Assuming continued success with the trial, Cobb said the TaskWatch app and smartwatches will roll out in 2018. The airport could even use the smartwatches for concierge services and emergency communications.

In the restaurant trial, waiters, managers and other staff using smartwatches were able to turn over tables to new customers four minutes faster than before, leading to more tables served and a 7% increase in average daily revenue, said John Gerbus, multi-franchise owner for Buffalo Wings and Rings. The trial took place at one Cincinnati Buffalo Wings location over four months, ending last October.

The TaskWatch app at the restaurant notified servers when guests were seated, and if no waiter arrived after a certain time, a manager could be notified. Alerts were created for when a table was ready to be cleaned and other tasks, such as a digital notification when a manager had visited a table to greet guests.

Servers got higher tips during the course of trial, an indication of its success, said Julie Godfrey, Samsung manager of retail solutions for wearable technology.

In both examples, the use of a smartwatch is seen as advantageous over a smartphone or tablet, mainly because it kept workers hands free, said Godfrey and Bharat Saini, CTO and founder of Hipaax, the app developer. Saini said the app will be sold as a service to enterprises with a monthly fee per user, although the final cost has not been announced. Each Samsung smartwatch costs about $300.


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