While consumers may immediately think of fitness trackers when they picture wearables, the devices are quickly migrating out of the gym and into the office, where the wearable scanner market is experiencing rapid expansion.

According to “Enterprise Wearable Scanner and Reader Technologies,” a report produced by ABI Research, Oyster Bay, N.Y., enterprise wearable scanner shipments will reach nearly 22 million by 2021, increasing from just 7 million in 2016.

“Wearable scanners boost business productivity, offering workers a faster, hands-free alternative to the need for traditional hand-held scanners and paper picklists,” says Stephanie Lawrence, research analyst. “Ring barcode scanners, glove scanners and smartglasses are the most popular forms, which depending on the device type, allow their wearers to scan barcodes, record processes and access information without interruption.”

Wearable ring scanners rely on a ring barcode scanner that connects to a wearable computer and allow the user to access and update information about the scanned product. Glove scanners provide a tracking interface for wearers to record manufacturing procedures for better quality control. Similarly, smartglasses ultimately offer guided workflows, allowing the wearer to receive assistance and new instructions when required.

As the devices begin to break ground across a wider variety of enterprises, ABI Research predicts more companies will invest in them, especially the warehousing, manufacturing and transportation industries, who will see the largest adoption of wearable scanners for 2016 to 2021, ABI Research predicts. During this period, most of these companies will use the wearable scanners to scan barcodes on packages when they are picked, packed and moved. In the long term, ABI Research expects these devices to improve efficiency and streamline workflow processes.

“Enterprise wearable scanner and reader technologies provide the ability to achieve faster throughput with greater accuracy and minimal re-work using only entry-level applications,” adds Ryan Martin, senior analyst. “But, whether talking about employee utilization, OPEX cost reduction or the democratization of decision-making authority across a more informed and evenly-distributed set of stakeholders, it is clear that these technologies will continue to have horizontal market appeal.”