Month: July 2014

Wearables Predictions: Who to Watch for Prediction #4

This is the fourth post in a Wearable Industry Watch Series for each of the 10 Wearables Predictions.  Follow this blog or Twitter handle @WorkTechWork to be notified of each part of the series. To view all predictions and links to the other parts of the series, visit the Wearable Industry Watch Series.

Prediction #4:  Wearables will become more intelligent because of developments in sensor technology and the ability to translate data from these sensors into insight via analytics.

Developments in Sensor Technology:

One of the challenges of wearable electronics is the rigidity of the components and the resulting space requirements to manage ridged components.  Consumers want small, comfortable devices but the inherent rigidity of metal and silicon require that components be kept from bending or flexing or else they can becoming brittle and break, a particularly challenging issue wearable textiles.

Dr. Wenlong Cheng and a team of researchers at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia have come up with a sensor that can bend or be twisted without cracking (read more here).  I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Cheng about this technology last week and the conversation has me excited for potential applications in the wearable industry, as well as the wider Internet of Things because of this material’s fast response times, high sensitivity and stability under lots of different situations.  This technology could disrupt how all wearable devices are designed in the Biosensing Wearables Landscape described by Rock Health. (image source Rock Health)

RockReportWearables4 from Rock Health

Ability to Translate Sensor Data to Insight via Analytics:

Knowing how many steps taken in a day is one thing, being able to detect anomalies in behavior that resulted in more or less steps, or understanding how the number of steps taken in a day affects behavior, particularly spending behavior, is another and data scientist are working hard to translate sensor data into insight.

It is no easy task.  The Cityzen Sciences team produces D-Shirt, a smart shirt that generates 200,000 data points in one hour.   Big data suddenly became humongous data with such finite data for the quantified self.  Fortunately, the team also offers the Cityzen Data platform which enables data collection and storage so that value, created through analytics, can be created from sensor data.

Cityzen is not alone in analyzing wearable data.  Empath Analytics acquires data from multiple wearable devices and is positioned as a Backend-as-a-Service API to help developers create apps leveraging data from wearable devices.  Empath Analytics can collect, parse, and clean data as well as apply machine learning techniques enabling developers the luxury to focus on generating value for users and improving user experience.

Moreover, big players in the space including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and others are acquiring sophisticated analytics producing companies with skilled data scientists almost as quick as they can incorporate and build websites.  All that glitters is not gold, though, because it is easy for a bus dev team member to say, “We can turn data into actionable insight” and difficult for a team to actually deliver on that promise.

On a lighter note, what is good for man may also be good for man’s best friend.  Pet wearable players like Whistle  and  Voyce are enabling the quantified pet and using data analytics to enrich the lives of both pets and pet owners.

Lastly, I’ll mention a point on the immense quantities of raw data (recall 200,000 data points and hour from one smart shirt!).  With large data sets, it becomes challenging to identify features in raw data that are meaningful.  Deep learning  may find attributes in quantified self data that humans simply cannot detect.

Are you aware of developments in sensor technology or are you working to translate sensor data into insight?  If so, I want to hear about it so express your thoughts in the comments below or reach out on the contact page.

Next Prediction: Who to Watch For Prediction #5

Previous Prediction: Who to Watch for Prediction #3

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Wearables Predictions: Who to Watch for Prediction #3

This is the third post in a Wearable Industry Watch Series for each of the 10 Wearables Predictions.  Follow this blog or Twitter handle @WorkTechWork to be notified of each part of the series. To view all predictions and links to the other parts of the series, visit the Wearable Industry Watch Series.

Prediction #3: Companies that combine the information of multiple sensors in multiple wearable devices will create more value for their consumers than producers of single wearable devices.

Wearable Alpha:

It goes without saying that part of the reason for the platform announcements covered in Who to Watch for Prediction #2 is that these companies are motivated to create these platforms because there is greater value created if multiple devices integrate.  Machine to Machine (M2M) communication generates value because humans don’t have to be involved in passing information from one machine to another, something we used to do by hand, which was error prone, or with tapes and floppy disks, which was time consuming.  With wearable devices, the additional value that results combining wearable device information is what I call Wearable Alpha.  Wearable Alpha results when two wearables create more value for a user when integrated than when unintegrated.  Additional Wearable Alpha is created if the two wearable devices are also integrated with other IoT devices and services.

Wearable Alpha by WorkTechWork


While players in the wearable space, as well as the greater Internet of Things, should execute focused strategies leveraging their strengths to develop technology, players should not forget that integrated solutions will create more value than unintegrated solutions.  Moreover, players should build business models that extract part of the Wearable Alpha to generate returns for shareholders and investors.

Wearable to Wearable Integrators:

Wearable devices are still nascent technologies, with years to go before the market is fully mature.  We do not know today which wearable device solutions will be on the market in one year and new wearable solutions are coming out all the time.  With so much change it is hard to find companies working to gather data from two separate wearable devices, let alone communicate between them.

Sensoria:  People don’t usually wear more than one watch, but people do wear more than one article of clothing so some low hanging fruit in the multiple wearable space is smart clothing for fitness tracking.  Sensoria Fitness Socks  provide the most accuracy of any step counting wearable to also count altitude changes, distance and, more importantly for the expert runners, cadence, foot landing technique and weight distribution on the foot.  Sensoria also produces a sports bra and a tshirt for heart rate monitoring.  With smart socks and a heart rate monitor, an athlete is on the way to reaping the benefits of Wearable Alpha.

ThisPlace: ThisPlace created a software solution called MindRDR that combines the NeuroSky EEG brainwave sensor with Google Glass to control photo taking and sharing.  In other words, you can take a picture and post it online just by thinking.  Today there are only a few people who will benefit from the Wearable Alpha generated by this particular wearable to wearable integration scenario; however, this opens a whole plethora of opportunities for mind controlling IoT devices.

Sensum:  Sensum provides a platform that integrates data streams from multiple wearable devices and health sensors to analyze the emotional response to events.  This generates tremendous amounts of Wearable Alpha when analyzing marketing and other forms of digital media because now, instead of just watching responses through tinted windows and asking questions, observers can capture an accurate reading of emotional response.

Do you integrate sensor information from multiple wearable devices?  If so,  tell me about it in the comments below or reach out here and lets meet up and chat about your technology.

Wearable to Smart Phone Integration:

There are many solutions that connect a wearable device to the smart phone.  The smart phone itself is becoming in some instances a hub with wearable devices connected to it and in other instances a stepping stone from wearable to cloud.  Smart phones are being built with more and more sensors, some of the same sensors built into wearable devices.  As mentioned in Who to Watch for Prediction #1, smart phones can run apps such as the Moves App and gather information from these sensors.  For the “multiple sensors in multiple devices” portion of this prediction to be fulfilled with a smart phone integration, information generated from smart phone sensors must be used and result in Wearable Alpha.  As of this posting, I have not found a company doing this.  Do you integrate information from both wearable device and a smart phone sensors?

Next Prediction: Who to Watch For Prediction #4

Previous Prediction: Who to Watch for Prediction #2

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Wearables Predictions: Who to Watch for Prediction #2

This is the second post in a Wearable Industry Watch Series for each of the 10 Wearables Predictions.  Follow this blog or Twitter handle @WorkTechWork to be notified of each part of the series. To view all predictions and links to the other parts of the series, visit the Wearable Industry Watch Series.

Prediction #2: Where wearables are silo solutions now, in the future they will be better integrated with other wearables and the wider Internet of Things.

Platforms Enabling IoT/Wearable Integration:

Since this prediction was first made in March, several key industry players made notable announcements that indicate the foundations are being laid to facilitate integration between wearables and other IoT devices.

April 15, 2014 Microsoft Announces IoT Cloud Service and a limited preview of Microsoft Azure Intelligent Systems Service

June 2, 2014 Apple Announces iOS 8 with HealthKit and HomeKit

June 3, 2014 MediaTek Launches LinkIt(TM) Platform For Wearables and Internet of Things

June 10, 2014 Salesforce Announces Salesforce Wear Developer Pack

July 8, 2014 Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) formed by Atmel Corporation, Broadcom Corporation, Dell, Intel Corporation, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., and Wind River

July 15, 2014 The Thread Group Announces its formation to create a new wireless IoT protocolThe Thread Group includes the collaborative forces of Google Inc.’s Nest Labs, Samsung Electronics, Freescale Semiconductor, ARM Holdings, Silicon Labs, Yale Security and Big Ass Fans.

Wearable to Wearable & Wearable to IoT Integration:

These are examples of companies who facilitate integration with other wearables and the wider internet of things are paving the way to change the world of siloed wearable solutions to integrated solutions.  The are better positioned to create what I call Wearable Alpha which will be discussed in more detail in Part 3 of the Wearable Industry Watch.

Wearables Industry Watch Prediction #2

EasilyDo: EasilyDo is integrating information from Galaxy Gear wearables into their scheduling app enabling users to do things like dial a phone for meetings and make RSVPs right from the wearable.  In other words, they’re integrating functions across a wearable and a smart phone. Mikael Berner, CEO @EasilyDo shared this with me, “Wearables allow manufacturers and developers to reimagine interaction and engagement with consumers. Our Galaxy Gear apps are a great example of how we are using the new medium to redefine the way people connect with apps, consume information contextually, and execute tasks. We are excited to see what the future holds for contextual apps and services in this space.”

Nod: Nod is a ring that enables gesture control of software and other IoT devices.  Nod’s IoT compatibility includes Nest Thermostat, Philips Hue Lights, Belkin WeMo Devices, Google Glass, GoPro Cameras and LG Smart TVs.

DrumPants: Drumpants takes the idea of touching a secret button to a whole new level.  Drumpants sensors can control iOS, Android and desktop apps, thus making this a truly limitless tool for exploration by anyone interested in controlling a portion of their world by discreetly tapping a sensor beneath their clothing.

ICEdot: When attached to a helmet, the ICEdot Crash Sensor can detect when impact occurs and trigger an alarm on a mobile device.  If the alarm goes unanswered, indicating the person wearing the helmet might be injured and unable to respond, the phone companion app sends text messages to emergency contacts.  This is integration between devices with the potential to save lives.

Validic: Validic provides a digital health platform that integrates information from health and fitness IoT devices, including wearables.  Earlier in July Validic acquired Infometers, expanding their health ecosystem by 44% (read more about Infometers here).

Are you working to connect wearables to the wider Internet of Things?   Tell me about it in the comments below or reach out here and lets meet up and chat.

Next Prediction: Who to Watch For Prediction #3

Previous Prediction: Who to Watch for Prediction #1

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Wearables Predictions: Who to Watch for Prediction #1

wearables-realistic-finalThis is the first post in a Wearable Industry Watch Series for each of the 10 Wearables Predictions.  Follow this blog or Twitter handle @WorkTechWork to be notified of each part of the series. To view all predictions and links to the other parts of the series, visit the Wearable Industry Watch Series.

Here is a special thank you to all the people, especially the busy startup founders and CEOs, who have taken time to discuss wearable technology solutions with me.  Your time is much appreciated as you have shared insights into your products, your position in the market and your invaluable industry insight.  This space is full of people who are creative, intelligent and passionate which makes me quite bullish on where wearables will go over the coming decade.  I look forward to the journey with you.

photo credit: Rani Molla/GigaOM

Prediction #1:  Wearables of the future will be more than fad devices; they will satisfy customer needs.

Just because a company has a great kickstarter campaign, does not mean the product isn’t a fad adopted by the early adopter techie types.  So, first a look at companies that fall under Fad, then a look at those that satisfy as satisfying is key with this prediction.

Fad: Google Glass

Google Glass is not ready for the mass consumer as there are not a lot of use cases for when regular people in their personal lives have to get information when both hands are both full making it impossible, difficult or inconvenient to just grab a phone.  Some other indicators this is a fad are that Robert Scoble is not wearing it as often and Keith Teare has given his away.  There are meaningful uses for Glass and future generations of it in industrial contexts; however, Glass for the masses is a fad device, a ground breaking fad, but a fad nonetheless.

Fad: All Single-Purpose Wrist-Worn Fitness Trackers

It would be easy to say Nike’s Fuelband is going this route since it has cut production but I’m going to be bold and say that all wrist worn fitness trackers on the market that only track fitness activity will become fad devices within 10 years.  This includes Fitbit, NordicTrack iFit Active, Garmin Vivofit, Samsung Gear Fit, Jawbone UP, Basis and even Shine, the world’s most elegant physical activity monitor (but all is not lost for Shine, you’ll see it again in the upcoming post on prediction #7).

There are two things at play that work against wrist worn fitness trackers.  First, fitness tracking can be done on a smart phone with an app like Moves without the need for another device to remember to bring and to charge.  Moves comes at a much lower price point than a wrist band (unless you include the value of the data you’re giving up but that goes under prediction #9).   Second, other alternate wearable devices can potentially provide more accurate fitness tracking through wearables on body parts that don’t move as much as an arm (You’ll see an example of this, The Dash by Bragi, in in the upcoming post on prediction #8).

Satisfy: APX Labs

The number one company I’m watching in this space is APX Labs, whose software platform Skylight empowers workers in all kinds of business scenarios with hands-free access to real-time, task related contextual information from anywhere work can be completed.  Skylight works on several devices including Google Glass; so how can I still say Glass is a fad?  Because what APX is doing is really hardware agnostic and Glass, even in industrial instances is not the best piece of hardware to work with.  Just because early adopters in industrial use cases find Glass useful, does not make it any less of a fad device because of its inherent deficiencies, battery life being one of them.  There is a place for Glass in the annuls of technical innovation as a leader, but Glass will fade as a fad and newer, better devices will trump in the coming decade.  I’m anxious to watch what APX Labs will empower its customers to do with those devices.

Satisfy: Smart Watches

In the satisfy space I’m watching smart watches.  While time will only tell who will come out as the leader, and yes I’ll stop with the puns, these are the three I’m watching:

Samsung Gear Live

Moto 360 by Motorola

iWatch, iTime or whatever Apple names its device

One of the great features of smart watches is their integration with smart phones, which with their own set of sensors can almost be considered a wearable of their own.  People are accustomed to wearing watches to satisfy the need to tell time or to wear something fashionable.  Smart watches can satisfy these and other needs.

Satisfy: Others

Many other astute entrepreneurs are tackling the challenge of providing wearable devices that satisfy customer needs, some of which will be covered in the remainder of this industry watch series.  Do you have a wearable product that satisfies customer needs?  Tell me about it in the comments below or reach out here and lets meet up and chat.

Next Prediction: Who to Watch For Prediction #2

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