The bulk of today's apps for wearables focuses on fitness, notification management and media. Salesforce.com thinks it's high time the enterprise got involved and today launched Salesforce Wear, what it says is the first business-centric wearable computing initiative. Salesforce is giving its Salesforce Wear Developer Pack, which includes APIs, open source code, demos and reference apps, away for free so companies can create their own apps for wearables with the power of Salesforce backing them up.
Research group IHS believes device makers will sell more than 50 million wearables this year. Further, it predicts that number will more than triple to 180 million by 2018. Wearables are being adopted at a rate five times that of smartphones. It's still early days for wearables, but the race to support them with apps has already begun.
Salesforce Wear supports six wearables out of the gate and will soon support many more. The six devices are the Samsung Gear 2, Pebble and Android Wear smartwatches; the Thalmic Myo and Bionym Nymi wearable bands; and Google Glass. According to Salesforce senior VP Daniel Debow, the company will ramp up the number of compatible devices as quickly as it can. Why? Because "wearables are the next phase of the mobile revolution," he said.
Salesforce maintains that developing apps for wearables is complex. It is an emerging space with a wide range of form factors, screen sizes, connectivity models and operating systems. Salesforce believes Salesforce Wear and the Salesforce Wear Developer Pack will help ease these pain points for developers, especially those interested in creating apps for businesses. The dev pack includes complete reference apps and architectures, enterprise user experience patterns, and secure two-way platform connections. It relies on the Salesforce1 mobile platform to provide the hooks into Salesforce's back-end systems and corporate data.
The company showed off a sample app it wrote for the Tizen-based Samsung Gear 2. The app lets Gear 2 wearers check their Salesforce-based calendars, send emails and other notifications, and even pull data from LinkedIn to see pertinent information about contacts. The app is included with the dev pack, but Salesforce says its customers are already making good use of wearables and the SDK to write their own apps.
For example, one company put Google Glass to work for oil rig safety and problem resolution. Using the Salesforce1 platform, it empowered Glass with the ability to see augmented images of repair sites, complete with repair history and hands-free access to solutions and support.
The Nymi from Bionym recognizes wearers based on their cardiac rhythms. Using the SDK, Bionym was able to create a way for its band to prove identity, which could be used to open doors, unlock computers and otherwise negate the need for passwords in the enterprise.
Debow and Salesforce are certainly bullish on the future of wearables. They see a big opportunity for enterprise app developers. Rather than use wearables just to count steps and see who just called, Salesforce envisions a world where wearables will help real professionals get real work done. With the right apps, that vision is surely possible.