Enterprise uses for wearables expanding as Salesforce grows app stable

Canada’s Bionym says enterprise clients are embracing wearables faster than consumers

The Bionym Nymi wristband

The Bionym Nymi wristband authenticates your digital identity by detecting your heartbeat. (Bionym)

The world of enterprise wearables is expanding, with Salesforce announcing support for a slew of new products on its Salesforce Wear open-source development kit.

The CRM behemoth launched Salesforce Wear in June, with support for several buzzy devices including Google Glass and the Samsung Galaxy Gear. The biggest name in the latest batch of compatible products is the Oculus Rift, the Kickstarter-funded virtual reality headset whose creator was bought by Facebook for $2 billion. Also included are the Jawbone UP fitness tracker, and smart-glasses from Epson, Meta Glasses and Vuzix.

READ: Facebook buying Oculus Rift could change Kickstarter as we know it »

According to Daniel Debow, Salesforce’s Senior Vice-President of Emerging Technologies, people will become increasingly accustomed to seeing wearables in use:

There’s always going to be social adaptation when new products come into place. We forget that when cellphones first came out, there was a huge hubbub. In fact people also said, “what am I going to use these for?” The same question [as wearables]. It was only real estate agents and drug dealers who used big, bulky cellphones. They got cheaper, they got better, they became more unobtrusive, and then they became part of the fabric of our social acceptance, we built social norms around them. We’re talking about business use cases here. I don’t think anyone will look twice when you have a warehouse or manufacturing worker using Google Glass.

READ: How Salesforce plans to bring the wearable tech craze to enterprise »

Bionym’s Nymi was among the first round of products compatible with Salesforce Wear. The wristband device uses a wearer’s pulse to authenticate identity, doing away with the need for passwords and entry credentials. Bionym President Andrew D’Souza discussed the company’s enterprise offerings.

Canadian Business: What has your experience been with Salesforce Wear?

Andrew D’Souza: We gave Salesforce early access to our software development kit. They built it into the Salesforce Wear platform and created a sample app, for a hospitality company that was using Salesforce to manage their VIP clients. They could issue Nymis to customers and when customers were in proximity they could pull up their Salesforce profile and find their name, preferences and different attributes about them to provide them a more compelling experience.

That was the first application or use-case that Salesforce built for us, and we’ve had quite a lot of interest from hospitality, airlines, hotel chains and retailers about extending off that.

What does the newly-announced Salesforce Wear-based Brivo Labs app do?

In the workplace, if you think about all of the different forms of identity or proof that you are who you say you are and that you have access to what you say you do, that’s already a significant burden on workers. There’s a proliferation of different identity tokens that’s only getting more and more complex and burdensome as the security risk and stakes increase. Our goal is: can you get to the same or a higher level of security but remove all the friction?

Brivo have built an integration with a physical access control system. For employees or guests in a building, [instead of] them having to go through a series of identification and setting up access control, if they’re wearing a Nymi and they’re on our platform, they’re able to just walk through and the Brivo system intelligently identifies what rooms they have access to.

Have enterprise applications always been part of the plan for the Nymi?

We’re still doing a lot of work in the consumer space. We thought we were going to go completely consumer—that had been our plan from the beginning—before going enterprise. But as soon as we launched the Nymi product last September, we had overwhelming interest from enterprise. At a certain point you have to listen to what the market is telling you. We’re still learning exactly who our first customer is, what those use-cases are. but the workplace-enterprise use case is certainly quite high on the list of things we’re exploring.