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Key Highlights from Wearable Technologies 2015
- feb. 2015 -

Two weeks ago, we had the privilege of speaking at, and attending a major Wearable Technologies conference in Munich, an event that amazingly has been going for ten years now. 

However, according to the CEO, Christian Stammel, their range of events globally have really picked up in the last few years, as you might imagine. Despite the freezing snow and icy conditions, there was a vibrant atmosphere as we all listened to fascinating talks about some of the most cutting edge technologies, new product and service applications and of course one great talk about how to actually design a wearable in a human centric way! 

We really appreciated all the great feedback to Blake’s joint presentation with our client, Julien Penders, Co-Founder of Bloom Technologies. 

Despite being a little skeptical as to how many of today’s ‘Wearables’ will be the core of sustainable business models, we were intrigued at some of the interesting innovations that are happening in this space. 

We thought we would capture some of the highlights for us below, including a video interview Blake was asked to do after his talk: 

1. Healthcare has huge potential

We’ve been bullish for a long time on the potential of ‘Wearables’ for healthcare. When technology can change a paradigm for the better, and there is incentive both from users / patients and healthcare services to adopt these new products, then that gives them huge opportunity to succeed. One of the best examples of this was from the conference was a startup called Bioserenity. They have a wearable technology solution that can both help diagnose and monitor epilepsy in much better ways. The WEMU solution can not only help with diagnosis but also tracks physiological characteristics that can predict seizures, and thus send warnings in advance to those listening like family or care givers. Naturally, there is also huge potential from crowd sourced data to much better understand and therefore treat epilepsy in new ways in the future. Another interesting healthcare startup was Winmedical, who have created a wearable modular system for hospitals. It effectively enables doctors and nurses to carry out many of the time consuming daily procedures of monitoring patient data –like heart rates, blood pressure, temperature etc - in a simple way whilst on the go. It saves nurses / doctors having to do multiple tours around the hospital with different tools and equipment for collecting and reading patients' data. Seems to make a lot of sense for that environment. There were several others too but can't mention them all! 

2. Privacy / Data must be respected 

There was one talk in particular that really reminded us of the importance of respecting privacy and individual data. Nikolaj Hviidof of Bragi showcased some beautifully designed wireless earphones called The Dash, that enable you to both track fitness data (via the ear) and listen to music at the same time – perfect for sports & fitness enthusiasts. However, it wasn’t just the product that made an impression but the fact that Nikolaj really emphasised how protective they are of users data, ensuring that data will not be accessed by other third parties. This was a subject that came up a lot and it was refreshing to hear that innovators are becoming ever more conscious of this issue. 

3. Big opportunity for startups to challenge big brands In many ways the conference was characterized by the mixed blend of big brands like Intel and HTC rubbing shoulders with a whole range of different startups from around the world. Never before have startups really been able to compete with big brands in the consumer electronics space. Now it is no longer prohibitively expensive for startups, and companies like Bragi have successfully leveraged crowdfunding platforms to get their businesses off the ground. Clearly big brands are also keen on this space and no doubt there will be many chances for startups to be acquired further down the line. Although there is rivalry, there is also a lot of great collaboration between corporates and startups too...a trend that is clearly growing momentum. 

4. Human centered design is essential! Blake and Julien did a fascinating talk on the design and development of Bloom, the new wearable for pregnancy that we collaborated on together. Although Blake told the story of how we went about the design on that project, perhaps the bigger message to the audience is the importance of designing wearables in a user centered way. Everything from ergonomics to how data is communicated and leveraged for the end user are big issues that need to be thought through really well. Someone came up to us afterwards and said “Everybody is talking about technology but you guys are talking about what makes sense for people, great talk!¨ Well, that’s exactly the feedback we wanted.Blake did a video interview afterwards - see below. It was a brilliant event,a lot of fascinating innovation we look forward to Wearable Wednesday (Wearable World) on March 4th taking place at MOB Barcelona during Mobile World Congress, where we will be involved once again. Having been to Wearable World's Glazed conference in London, should be a lot of fun.

Blake talks about designing Wearables that make sense for users.

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