It’s no surprise that wearable devices are increasingly Wi-Fi enabled.

wifi wearables

With Apple’s recent announcement of Wi-Fi support for Apple Watch and rumors that Google will bring Wi-Fi capabilities to Android Wear, wireless connectivity will continue to drive changes in the way we work and play. As more employees opt to use wearable devices in their personal and professional lives, the traditional boundaries of the workspace will become more fluid.

Wearable devices, such as smart watches and fitness monitors, traditionally tethered to your smartphone via the short-range Bluetooth technology and the smartphone acted as the window to the device’s applications and data. With Wi-Fi support, wearable devices are now free to roam the network and the workspace independent of the smartphone. As long as my Apple Watch is connected to the same network as my phone, I’m able to receive notifications and accept calls from anywhere the network reaches.

So what does this mean for the average IT manager?

  • Get ready for more offloading of data onto the WiFi network. Cisco predicted that more mobile data traffic will be offloaded to Wi-Fi than remains on cellular networks by 2016. This rate will only accelerate with the introduction of Wi-Fi wearables.
  • These devices may require additional IP addresses – is your network provisioned to supply these or are you at risk of exhausting the supply, requiring a complex readdressing exercise or perhaps denying access to your laptops and smartphones?
  • Consider what bands will they operate in. Will they support 2.4Ghz, only further exasperating congestion in the junk band, or will they support 5Ghz as well?

Similar to what we’ve experienced with the explosion of smartphones, wearables are likely to have a similar impact on your network. End-users on your network — whether an employee or customer — expect freedom in their experience across laptop, smartphone, tablet and wearable. This is often shaped by access, consistent speed and reliability from a Wi-Fi infrastructure.

For these reasons, we should leverage the lessons learned from transitions caused by BYOD. There is opportunity for IT to embrace and welcome wearables onto their networks. Consider the ways you can securely onboard and manage Wi-Fi wearables, rather than perceive them as potential threats and causes of traffic jams. Your preparation will ultimately deliver tremendous business advantages to your company by allowing a more mobile and connected workforce than ever before.
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Chris Spain

VP Product Management