Cloud software vendor Salesforce.com Inc. has released a developer pack for wearable technology that includes six “starter apps” for devices such as Google Glass and the Pebble smart watch.

Announced on Tuesday, the Salesforce Wear initiative is a response to the growing market for wearables, according to the San Francisco based firm. About 50 million wearable devices will be sold this year, according to information firm IHS Inc. and that is predicted to grow to 180 million by 2018. To Salesforce, that represents an opportunity for its clients to deliver more personalized experiences to customers and provide sales people with contextually-relevant information.

Available today for free download to any licence holder for Salesforce CRM or Salesforce Platform. Also available are six example apps connecting to Salesforce1 data on the Pebble smart watch, Bionym’s Nymi wristband, Thalmic Labs’ Myo armband, Samsung Gear 2 smart watch, Android Wear, and Google Glass.

This is just the beginning for Salesforce Wear, said Daniel Debow, senior vice-president of emerging technologies at Salesforce.com. It’s starting with a focus on the release of apps for wearable devices.

“Salesforce wants to evangelize and accelerate wearable device adoption,” Debow says. “In the near future we will also be hosting hackathons, develop community events and contests geared towards finding the killer wearable technology app.”

Three out of the six wearable technology firms working with Salesforce.com have Canadian roots, notes Tom Emrich, the founder of We Are Wearables, a Toronto-area meet-up series. Thalmic Labs is based in Waterloo, Ont.; Bionym is based in Toronto,  and Pebble also get started in Waterloo, Ont. before sailing ship to Silicon Valley.

“I think it shows a lot about the Canadian strength behind wearable technology,” he says. “By anointing it and saying this is the next wave of computing, that can only do wonders for the entire industry.”

Thalmic Labs was approached by Salesforce and asked if it wanted to participate in the platform, says Stephen Lake, co-founder and CEO for Thalmic Labs. Salesforce provided the elbow grease to integrate the Myo wristband, which enables a gesture controlled-interface, into its platform.

“It was a win-win for us in that there wasn’t really an investment to take part in and now there’s another 1.5 million developers that can build off Myo,” he says.

Myo's wristband just got a new look and is shipping this September.
Myo’s wristband just got a new look and is shipping this September.

The example app built by Salesforce that shows a physician reviewing X-ray images with a patient isn’t that far off from real-world scenarios, Lake says. Thalmic Labs is working with companies that are integrating Myo into medical imaging systems and could be in place at certain medical facilities within the year.

The developer kit should be used to experiment, he adds.

“We’re interested in how Myo can enable new forms of computing for the enterprise,” he says. “I think there’s lots of exciting ways it could make workers more efficient.”

Whether Salesforce Wear proves to be a useful addition to the cloud vendor’s platform will depend on whether people and businesses are interested in buying the hardware, Emrich says. Most of the products that have been integrated into the platform haven’t been released to market yet.

“Of course it’s a little bit of a marketing move for them because they want to position themselves as an innovative company,” he says. “But at the same time if there are no apps, that could impact the embrace of the hardware itself.”

Here’s a complete list of wearable devices supported by Salesforce Wear:

  • Android Wear – Android Wear-based smartwatch
  • ARM – Market leader in semiconductor IP wearables
  • Fitbit – Designs leading products that track everyday health and fitness
  • Google Glass – Wearable computer with a head-mounted optical display
  • Myo from Thalmic – Gesture-contolled wearable to control devices with hand movement
  • Nymi from Bionym – Wearable identity authenticator to eliminate the need for passwords
  • OMsignal – Biometric smartwear designed for fitness tracking
  • Pebble – Wearable smartwatch
  • Philips – Sensor technologies and cloud-based services for wearable devices
  • Samsung Gear 2 – Tizen-based smartwatch that delivers comprehensive notifications and call functionality directly to a user’s wrist

With notes from Nestor Arellano 

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