There’s a lot of hype now about “wearables” — a catch-all term for any computerized device worn on the body, from eyewear to watches to clothes. Venture capitalist Mary Meeker predicts wearable technology will be as transformative as personal computing 30 years ago.

While the excitement over wearables has focused largely on the consumer applications, wearable technology also holds huge promise for field service, says Gartner’s Angela McIntyre. She predicts that wearables could save $1 billion in costs by 2017. Think more efficient on-the-job training, video communications, photo and data collection in hard-to-reach areas and — yes — even improved first-time fix rates and happier customers.

What’s Ahead for Wearables in the Field

Jon Ernest, product specialist for Midwest Real Estate Data, is among the many field service managers who are curious about the future of wearable tech in the field. Writing on LinkedIn’s Field Service Management group, Ernest identifies a handful of ways that wearable tech could improve field service:

  • Using predictive troubleshooting based on equipment QR codes
  • Suggesting potential problems that are high probability based on past issues
  • Providing field techs with a customer’s question and feeding them the answer before the customer even asks it
  • Confirming time-clock auditing using visuals

Ernest isn’t the only one who’s enthusiastic about wearables in the field. “Imagine being able to pull out your ‘tech gadget,’ tell it the symptom and it display the top ten solutions and any other problem that may have occurred shortly afterwards, to eliminate the second visit,” writes Roy Moss, field service engineer for residential construction company Pheasant Run. “A lot of the normal calls are easily fixed, it’s those rare ones that eat up the time and money.”

Tell us what you think: What do you think wearable technology can do — or not — for field service?