Review of the Wearable Technologies Conference July 22/23 2013

Review of the Wearable Technologies Conference July 22/23 2013

The second-ever Wearable Technologies Conference hosted and run by Wearable Technologies AG (link) from Germany, was held here in San Francisco July 22/23. Attendees came from R&D labs, early-stage idea companies, crowd-funded startups, and large electronics manufacturers. It was great to see the energy, enthusiasm, curiosity, and innovation happening in the space. My notes below are not comprehensive but are instead a reflection of where I thought the most important learning was for me.




  • Convergence between Cloud, Internet of things and Wearable Technologies by Harry Strasser, Managing Partner, Wearable Technologies
  • Wearable tech is about the connection of life: between our bodies and the surrounding homes, health care, industry, city, home, and mobility systems that surround us.
  • We will have wearable tech IN us, ON us, and NEAR us.
  • Enabling technologies like user interfaces, energy systems, sensors, connectivity, active materials continue to develop.
  • The value chain is emerging:
  • chip vendors/component/materials
  • design houses, integrators, OEMs, ODMs
  • standardisation test houses
  • network providers (think telcos)
  • product solutions (like Fitbits and Jawbones, etc.)
  • service providers
  • distribution / retail providers (brick and mortar or online)
  • Market segments are emerging [although to be clear many products cross these segments]
  • security / safety
  • medical
  • wellness
  • sports/fitness
  • lifestyle computing
  • communication
  • glamor / fashion
  • All of this is resulting in 8000+ startups being funded by $1B of VC funds (plus un-tolled crowd-funding platforms)
  • …to create a market that will grow from 30M wearable products in 2012 to >100M in 2017
  • Great Wearables market map!
Wearable Technologies AG / Beecham Research Market Segment Map

Wearable Technologies AG / Beecham Research Market Segment Map

(Excellent map from Beecham Research)

  • Keynote: Partnering to enable Wearable Technologies for global markets, John Dwyer, VP, Engineering & Technology, High Velocity Solutions, Flextronics
  • Towards Function with Style: Assessing the WT Market Opportunity Robin Duke-Woolley, CEO and Jon Howes, Technology Director, Beecham Research
  • this report documents the state of the global wearables market. Beecham is an analyst firm that spent the past year leveraging their significant M2M (machine to machine and internet-of-things) background to map out the space collaboratively with the WT team.
  • They introduced a new market segmentation, value chain assessment, and what they call “fashion industry profiles” which to me seem like “user personas” for product development.
  • Their report “Wearable Technology: Towards Function with Style” is one of the best reports I’ve ever seen on a market in development.


  • Connecting Life Wirelessly, Volker Prüller, Marketing Director, Texas Instruments
  • Enabling technologies like smart energy, cloud computing, low-cost connectivity, mobile devices are leading to a world of 50 billion connected devices by 2020.
  • Bluetooth Smart (v4.0) matters. It’s already in IOS, coming in Windows 8.1 and landing in Android.
  • Life Augmented, Andrew Leone, Business Development Manager Strategic Sectors Development, STMicroelectronics
  • Quick review of Human interface evolution over time:
  • 1940s – typing
  • 1980s – clicking mouse
  • 2006 – move body (Wii, etc.)
  • 2007 – touch (mobile phones)
  • 2010 – gesture (Kinect, etc.)
  • 2012 – talk (Siri)
  • 2013 – look (Google Glass)
  • 2020?? = THINK?
  • Enabling technologies for smart systems: improvements in silicon technologies, new materials, packaging, IP/software/algorithsms
  • Those are driving the explosion of MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) and sensor tech are allowing us to track motion, environment, touch, sound, pressure and then to communicate in small lower power form factors.
  • Believes that by 2015 we can get to smart textiles, leading eventually to advanced robotics and then bionic organs and tissues.
  • Enhanced Biofeedback via Innovative Smart Textiles, Chih-Cheng Lu, CTO, AiQ
  • The basic idea is that with the miniaturization of sensor technology woven into clothing that we can go far beyond heart rate measurement and have real-time biofeedback with smart textiles
  • Their “dream shirt” would be washable but be able to track the users blood flow, respiration rate, gait, heart rate, skin temperature, blood pressure and possibly other vitals.
  • (Interesting stuff including the demo of a cycling shirt with embedded sensors. That will be a fun space to watch.)


  • Wearable Tech – The First Act in the Always On Revolution, Brian Gally , Senior Director of Product Development, Qualcomm MEMS Technologies
  • Interesting data-point. It took 10 years to connect the first 1B mobile devices but only 2.5 years to connect the next billion.
  • seemed like a very stock PPT on the growth of mobile. Not sure why this was presented at a wearable tech conference. Much of what is wearables will not have direct cellular connections because of the power requirements.
  • Living Our Lives in the Cloud, Richard Dym, CMO, BigCloud Sales, Chairman of the Board ,SIIA
  • “human cloud” – wearable tech will be integral to the internet of things.
  • upside of wearables:
  • 18% already wearing them [that must be a U.S. number],
  • 75% of them believe the devices enhance their lives
  • 47% felt more intelligent
  • 61% felt more informed
  • 37% felt it helped with career development
  • 61% felt personal efficiency improved
  • 13% never take the device off
  • 7% check their device every 5 min (!)
  • downside
  • users are frustrated with quality and accuracy
  • 51% are concerned about privacy
  • 62% think regulation is needed
  • 20% think wearables should be banned entirely (!)


  • Empower body functions, Björn Weigel, Björn Weigel, Chairman of the Board and Part-Owner, Bioservo Technologies
  • This Swedish company discussed their work on “human-looking” prosthetics such as the Soft Extra Muscle Glovethat lets people with weak grips grip things more strongly
  • MY NOTES: I wonder if that works for things like grappling?? It’s essentially a soft and human looking exo-skeleton for the hand. Pretty cool stuff.



  • Designing Around the User Just Isn´t Enough Anymore, Cindy Soo,, Creative Director & Creative Strategist, Flex Interactive, Flextronics
  • wearable tech will require interdisciplinary thinking across fashion, psychology, design, and technology


  • Connected Care. Everywhere. Michael Emerson, SVP of Marketing, Preventice
  • shared some cool stats in their infographic that boiled out to…mHealth is a “really fricking big” market.
  • they discussed the large gap between medical devices vs. fitness trackers. Medical devices are by definition prescribed, regulated, and reimbursed, whereas fitness trackers are none of those things.
Screenshot 2014-01-11 15.53.59
  • Digital Pain Relief, Shaun Rahimi, Chairman & CEO, Thimble Bioelectronics
  • Shaun and his team are building a small TENS-like patch that helps address sites of pain. In terms of following the advice of “always go for big markets”, this team is aiming at the 120M Americans who claim to be in pain from a variety of issues including knee, back, repetitive strain, arthritis, and sports injuries.


  • Contextualizing Health Data with Wearable Tech and Mobile Connectivity, Abe Carter, Co-founder, Amiigo
  • wearables are a great opportunity but they have historically had limited data
  • they can provide input to the healthcare system
  • Abe talked about the sustainability of wearables: sustainably wearable tech + contextual data providing relevant and useful recommendations which in turn boosts adherence and sustainable wearability
  • what if you could combine new technology (sensors)  + user information + social / behavioral data + user input to get a more complete picture?
  • Amiigo believes that would help you identify activity and improve your recommendations.
  • Fully Embodied VR – How Wearable Gaming and Virtual Reality are Transforming Consumer Entertainment, James Iliff, Producer, Project Holodeck
  • In their words: “The goal of Project Holodeck is to bring 360-degree full-body virtual reality out of the research lab and into a fun, accessible consumer gaming platform.We want to make the dream of a VR play space a reality, and at a affordable cost.”
  • Building the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset.
  • Launched on Kickstarter and raised $2.4M in crowdfunding (!)
  • allows you to have a virtual holodeck in a 12×12 space (today)
  • MY NOTES:  Ever wanted to be in the Star Trek Holodeck? That open space that can be anyplace, anytime? Me too. These guys are doing it. Cool stuff.)
  • Vivitouch® HD Feel Enables Advanced and Multi-Dimensional Communication through Touch, Andrew Cheng, Director of Marketing, ViviTouch | A Bayer Brand
  • Addressed the question up front – why is Bayer involved? Turns out that they’re now a conglomerate involved in many areas.
  • Haptic feedback has not innovated much since 1997
  • We need to have HD haptics like we have HD audio and video
  • Vivitouch claims to have the answer with their HD Haptic tech
  • They claim that haptic research says that humans can differentiate between 85 different haptic feedback effects.


  • Wearable Technologies – Building Blocks for Future Medical Devices, Lior Shtram , Director, Technology Management, Flextronics Medical
  • Flextronics Medical is working to create new technologies that will be a toolbox for their customers to use to create new products
  • Some of the components include wireless connectivity, discplays, batteries, conductors, sensors, flexible electronics
  • They walked through their development of a smart patch that could offer continuous cardiographic monitoring
  • Ultimately it had printed displays, flexible batteries, low power wireless controllers.
  • Have moved from patch 1.0 to patch 2.0
  • Provided overview of their 3rd generation smart patch for monitoring hearts of children (My Heart Patch!)
  • This is leading them to invent new technologies such as in/through-body communication networks using capacitive coupling (for transiting signals from wrist hub to patch through the body for example), respiratory monitoring
  • MY NOTES: Overall this was an awesome presentation showing how customers will ultimately have to go from use case to design and then to assembling a vast variety of technology components from a litany of supply chain component suppliers.


  • Fundawear: the Future of Foreplay, Billie Whitehouse, Director, Wearable Experiments
  • Wearable Technology Impacting Public Safety, Luke Larson, Director of Video, Taser International
  • Wearability Design from the Outside In, Sonny Vu, Founder and CEO, Misfit Wearables
  • Autography, not Photography, Simon Randall, Managing Director, OMG Life

The next WT conference is January 27/28 2014 in Germany

Amazing conference with amazing speakers. Can’t wait for the next one!