Posted By Simon Montford on Jan 26, 2015
Scarab is a wearable device that continuously monitors your environment. It contains sixteen sensors, more than any other personal consumer product. It detects UV, carbon monoxide, gamma rays, noise levels, magnetic fields, liquid petroleum gas, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, temperature, ambient light, humidity, and digital output. It also contains a gyroscope, 3D magnetometer, 3D accelerometer and a GPS module. I'm not entirely convinced that, even if the company's Kickstarter campaign is a success, the product will be a big hit with the consumer market.
This is because, although some people will be sufficiently paranoid to buy one, this technology is far better suited to the enterprise and industrial applications. There is a clear cut case for wearing a fitness tracker that helps people lose weight and get fit. Whereas I just don't see the average person being overly concerned about the threat of exposure to LPG or Gamma rays.
For employees working in hazardous environments however, there is a clear business case for monitoring them with a wearable such as the Scarab. There is not only a case for health and safety whereby notifications can be sent to the wearer to help them avoid hazards, but over time the data could be used for legal purposes. For example, if an employee made a claim for an illness that they felt was caused by work-related exposure to harmful toxins, chemicals or other contaminants, the data accumulated over time could potentially be used to prove or disprove it. One real-world example where wearable tech is being used in industry is Marathon Oil refineries. The company ensures that employees wear a wireless device (not a Scarab) that tracks harmful gas exposure during a worker’s shift to ensure they are safe at all times.
The Scarab costs around $199, which is expensive in a consumer context, so I can't see the Scarab being sold in large numbers for use within the domestic environment. I can, however see this kind of device appealing to enterprise clients for use in an industrial context, particularly if the unit price could be lowered, as a result of economies of scale due to bulk purchases to corporate clients. Furthermore, corporate clients would be less price sensitive anyway as reducing employee health risks may result in O&M savings if insurance premiums were reduced, as a result. All in all a clear ROI argument could be put forward that would justify the capital cost, in addition to the human factor of keeping employees safe.
We will increasingly see "Consumerization of IOT", where connected devices and wearables designed originally for consumers will filter into the enterprise. A good example of this is Google Glass, which although originally designed for the consumer market, is now becoming widely adopted within industry ("Glass should be for heroes"). In fact Glass got so little traction within the consumer sector, that Google recently withdrew it from sale.
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