Salesforce.com wants you to wear a computer at work.
This week, the big-name internet software company released Salesforce Wear, an open source software development kit that lets coders build business applications for wearable computing devices such as the Google Glass digital eyewear and the Samsung Gear and Pebble smart watches. Glass, Gear, and Pebble are largely billed as consumer devices, but Salesforce is among the many companies and analysts that hope to push such wearables into the workplace as well.
Mark Benioff and company also released the software code for six example apps, including a tool that can display business metrics on a Pebble watch and a gesture-based application that lets surgeons to pull up patient records without having to touch an unsterilized keyboard, mouse, or touchscreen. These apps aren’t ready for prime time, but at this point, says the company’s senior vice president of emerging technologies Daniel Debow, Salesforce just wants to provide some wearable inspiration for developers.
These include a gesture-based application that lets surgeons to pull up patient records without having to touch an unsterilized keyboard, mouse, or touchscreen.
There are plenty of examples of wearable computers being used in the workplace already. Epson and Evena Medical built a smart glasses system that helps health care workers find patients’ veins. Looxcie’s Vidcie head-mounted camera enables technicians to get live support in the field, as does a Google Glass application built by solar panel installation company Sullivan Solar. And last year, The Independent newspaper reported that UK grocery chain Tesco uses electronic armbands to monitor employee activities and give them scores based on how well they perform.
What Salesforce hopes to provide is an easier and faster way for companies to create their own wearable apps for their employees and customers. “People would have to build everything–like identity and security–from scratch,” Debow says. “But all of this is already built into Salesforce’s existing developer platform.” Salesforce Wear dovetails with this platform, a set of online service for building and running software that hooks into other Salesforce applications, and at least at this point, it doesn’t work with other development platforms. That means Salesforce also sees this new kit as a way of driving interest in its existing services, but whatever Salesforce’s own interests, Debow is adamant that wearable gear is the future.