Feeling skeptical that wearable technology will ever catch on in manufacturing shops? So are many of the respondents to the recent State of Manufacturing Technology Report, a study that includes data from more than 130 manufacturers across the country.\nIn fact, some 35 percent of respondents said smart glasses are overhyped.\nAnd when you consider that 93 percent of survey respondents use consumer tablets in their manufacturing operations, 80 percent incorporate consumer mobile devices and 48 percent already use sensors to track materials and machines, it\u2019s obvious that today\u2019s manufacturers are eager to deploy modern devices that help people and machines team up to get more done. In fact, wearable computing devices are changing manufacturing. Here are the three areas where you\u2019ll notice the biggest difference.\n#1: Training Is Faster and Better\nIf you\u2019ve ever hired people for manufacturing jobs, you know that new employees face a potential roadblock to productivity: the computer. No matter how computer savvy your new hires may be, they\u2019ll still need to learn the software applications you use for recording hours, entering data about new shipments, and reporting product defects.\nWearables eliminate the time and expense of teaching new line workers how to navigate software. To put it simply, wearables do the logging on for your staff, as well as a great deal of the data entry.\nThink of what that means: you can now hire a new employee, set them up with wearable technology that talks to your machines and computers, and deploy them on your assembly line as not only a productive worker, but also a data collection agent. And because they won\u2019t be constantly running to a computer to punch in data, your new hire will get much more done.\nLet\u2019s picture how this might work: You equip your warehouse staff with digital scanning devices and Google Glass. The pointers allow them to point to any box and see captured barcode data about its contents displayed on their Google Glass. This will not only eliminate the need for them to open boxes and examine the contents, but also enable them to record data on new shipments in a fraction of the time.\nThere was a time when you could hire new line workers based on their skill, not their computer savvy. That day is here again. Wearables let assembly line staff focus on what they do best.\n#2: Safety Issues Are Disappearing\nWe\u2019ve all seen the signs: \u201c34 Days Since Our Last Accident.\u201d\nSoon, we won\u2019t need those signs at all. Wearables will make workplaces virtually accident-proof by overriding the worst human judgment.\nPicture this: you require all your warehouse staff to wear a (yet-to-be prototyped) smartvest. If a forklift driver is rounding a corner and doesn\u2019t realize another worker is standing there, no problem. His smartvest will beep an alarm code that signals him to slow down and be alert.\nThat\u2019s Version 1.0, of course. Version 2.0 will actually interact with the forklift\u2019s controls and apply the brakes when a collision with a human is imminent.\nWearables are doing more than that to promote safety on the manufacturing shop floor. Because they\u2019re on people at all times, they help management gather data on the speed at which workers are traveling\u2014so that the one forklift driver who consistently drives too fast can be corrected. Wearables also let management gather data about how workers are spending their time on the shop floor and what safety hazards they\u2019re exposed to on a daily basis.\nThe benefits extend to customer safety, too. Imagine a sensor that electronics manufacturing workers can wear on one finger and touch to an electronic component to make sure it has been welded at the correct temperature. The temperature data would automatically be transmitted to the cloud, where the company\u2019s management could then monitor product quality in real time. These are the kinds of innovations that are already emerging onto the market.\n#3: People and Machines Now Communicate as Equals\nWearables do more than minimize your training requirements, save time for line workers, and help prevent accidents. They also let people and machines communicate with no barriers.\nA warehouse worker points to a box with a digital pointer and sees its contents on Google Glass without opening it. A line worker wearing sensors on his hands touches a finished product to measure its size and shape and verify that it meets specifications. Another line worker points to a machine to see data on Google Glass about the machine\u2019s speed, temperature, efficiency, and maintenance history.\nWorkers share all this data with their peers who may be affected by it\u2014without leaving the shop floor. And all of this data is stored in the cloud for real-time or future analysis.\nIt\u2019s as if our manufacturing workers are walking around trailing ones and zeroes.\nDecision-makers crave those ones and zeroes. Whether it\u2019s generated by a machine or by a human, data is what drives every strategic business decision today. The more data, the better.