Consumer-Oriented Strategy

Josh’s Turkey

For 15 years I’ve been iterating on the turkey recipe that among  friends and family is referred to as ‘Josh’s Turkey’.  Like most enjoyable things, including the many tech-infused products and solutions I usually talk about here, this turkey recipe is the compilation of many ideas and the result of multiple iterations.  Learning from others, from experiments (both good and bad) and from hard work and time can have great results with food, with business, with tech and with life.

Josh’s Turkey takes two main concepts and several techniques and puts them all together to create a bacon-wrapped, garlic and rosemary infused turkey.  The first major breakthrough was about a dozen years ago when I found a website with a rosemary and garlic turkey recipe.  The person who posted the recipe explained turkey would taste like this if Italians had invented Thanksgiving.  I used garlic and rosemary that year and the flavor was an instant hit and an improvement over prior year’s experiments with onions, carrots and celery.

Encouraged by learning something new, trying it and having a success, I continued looking for more recipes and ways to improve the turkey as Thanksgiving rolled around the next year.  This led to the second main concept, a bacon-wrapped turkey.  The recipe poster had posed a question I have never forgotten, “Why have turkey without bacon when you could have turkey with bacon?”  Since the garlic and rosemary had done so well the year before, I decided to try both together.  No regrets!

My mother-in-law is was one of the people who don’t didn’t like turkey.  This has meant enjoying a beautiful roast lamb on more than one occasion for Thanksgiving or for Christmas over the years.  Every time she has turkey I’ve made she says the same thing, “I don’t like turkey but I love Josh’s Turkey.”  So, it is because of her I call this recipe Josh’s Turkey.  She has the most fantastic skill of anyone I know with food and her compliment means a lot.  Josh’s Turkey is a turkey everyone will love, including vegetarians and vegans.  I know that is a strong claim, but we have had guests who are not carnivores and though they do not eat the turkey, they love the smell compared to plain turkey.  If you follow this recipe you will not only create food but an entire envelope of aroma in your home that will have you, your family and your guests salivating for hours.

The third year after the first garlic and rosemary turkey I did two things different, I began to braid the bacon on top of the turkey and I tried something else that was a TOTAL FLOP.  Hawaiian style pizza with ham and pineapple is a popular US interpretation of a classical Italian dish.  I like Hawaiian pizza!  After braiding, I added fresh pineapple slices inside the turkey and around the base of the pan.  The turkey came out with a beautiful braid on top that everyone was excited about at carving time.  But the pineapple wasn’t good at all and it had ruined the flavor of the gravy and the meat.  It was edible, but not desirable.

Pineapple bacon wrapped Italian turkey just didn’t work.  I remember my mother-in-law, a recent turkey convert, asking me what was wrong!  She had come prepared for the Josh Turkey product and was left disappointed with a flavor wreck.  In innovation you push to the extremes of what is possible and what reality will take.  It is usually necessary to take a step or two back to create the appropriate consumer oriented product strategy and deliver the right customer experience.  Pineapple was a step out there and taking a step back returns us to the recipe below.  While it was sad to produce a flavor-confused turkey nobody really wanted to eat, the lesson was valuable.

Ingredients: 

  1. Smoked Bacon
  2. Whole Turkey
  3. Fresh Garlic
  4. Fresh Rosemary
  5. Freshly Ground Pepper

Note: There is no salt in the recipe for a reason! The bacon has enough salt in it.

Prep Time:

1 – 2 hours

Cook Time:

Depends on weight, use an online guide and add the weight of the bacon to the weight of the turkey when estimating cook time.  Use a meat thermometer or other methods to ensure the turkey is fully cooked.  Plan on 5 hours for a big, bacon covered bird.

Step One: Bacon 

Why cook a turkey without bacon when you could cook a turkey with bacon?  When I first began experimenting with the turkey recipe, bacon was not first on the list.  But it is now!

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Step one starts well before you preheat the oven, it starts at the meat department.  The bacon used on the turkey can impact both flavor outcomes and prep time.  In the photo is a 19 pound young turkey with a 5 pound package of thick cut, hickory smoked bacon.  (For my many non-Imperial unit friends that is 8.6 kg turkey and 2.3 kg bacon).

Bacon

The last thing you want to do when prepping your version of Josh’s Turkey is run out of bacon! Get enough and you won’t regret it.  The first bacon wrapped turkey I did was with one package of thin sliced bacon.  There wasn’t enough bacon but it was enough to prove the two meats complimented each other nicely.

All bacon isn’t cut equal.  Through trial and error I learned to use thick cut bacon.  Here are a few of the reasons:

  1. When wrapping the turkey, thicker bacon is less flimsy and easier to manage.
  2. Thick cut bacon slices tend to be wider which means you’ll be doing less weaving to get a beautiful braid.
  3. Thicker bacon has more fat and flavor which seeps into the turkey during roasting.
  4. Thin bacon tends to shrink a lot when roasted and can leave gaps that are not covered by bacon.

In the United States bacon is sold in long, straight strips.  In Australia and other countries where I’ve had the privilege of indulging on bacon, the cuts are not always straight.  Weaving will be harder and will not look as good but the flavor should be great regardless of bacon shape.  You could also trim your non-conforming bacon and save the straightest strips for the braid on the breasts and use the smaller pieces on the wings, legs or inside.  Those of you with the luxury of a local butcher may be able to make a special request for your bacon to be sliced thick and straight for braiding.

All bacon isn’t cured equal. The best flavors for your version of Josh’s Turkey will come from a smoked bacon.  I prefer either hickory or apple wood.   If the decision is between thick cut hickory and thin apple wood, pick the thick cut bacon.

Turkey

In the picture the turkey is a young turkey.  Young turkeys supposedly have better flavor.  I haven’t tried a fresh (not frozen) or organic turkey.  I’ve heard they can be better so try it and see or maybe I’ll add a note back here after trying it.

As to size, most people will follow serving recommendations for the number of people who will attend dinner.  I like to pick a larger bird to have more leftovers.  Many people do not want a larger turkey because their bird comes out dry and no one wants to eat dry turkey after the gravy runs out.  This has NEVER been a problem with Josh’s Turkey!  If you do have leftovers be sure to not leave them out all afternoon so you don’t have to throw it out.

Step Two: Prep

This is where art meets science to get you a good result.  Preparing Josh’s Turkey takes between one to two hours.  This isn’t something you can just rush through.  Back when I first started cooking the turkey and experimenting I would simply clean the turkey up, maybe pop an onion inside, and be done.  But with this method you need to spend the time on each step.  Be patient and you won’t be disappointed.  There are several components and you’ll want to get them right or experiment to find your personal adaptations that work for you and your guests.  I break prep into three areas, the garlic & rosemary rub, the turkey and roasting prep, and the bacon wrap.

Garlic & Rosemary Rub

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The ingredients for the Garlic and Rosemary Rub are pressed garlic, fresh diced rosemary, fresh ground pepper and canola oil.  There is no salt in the rub or added to the turkey at any time.  The bacon has enough salt for the turkey.

Start the Garlic & Rosemary rub by putting on a pair of latex-free gloves.  One year I prepared all the garlic right before bed the night before and my fingers smelled like fresh garlic bread all night!

Garlic

Many people are unfamiliar with cooking with fresh garlic. Pre-diced garlic or frozen pressed garlic just does not have the same amount of flavor.  Similarly, garlic powder would absolutely be sub-standard as far as flavor goes.  I’ve never tried using garlic powder on a turkey and wouldn’t even imagine doing it for such an important meal.  I usually use the largest cloves from two or three bunches of garlic and that is because of the time involved with pealing all the skins off the little buds in the middle.

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The amount of garlic can vary per your family’s taste preference.  In the picture above there are 18 medium to large cloves.  That is about right for us and we love fresh garlic.  If your experience cooking with garlic is limited to a dash of garlic powder here or there and you rarely order dishes with garlic at restaurants, you may want to only use five or six cloves for your first time.  If, on the other hand, you’ve wondered why Italian foods taste amazing at restaurants compared to home or are a huge fan of garlic broccoli or garlic green beans at Chinese restaurants, 18 might just be your number too!

I’ve both minced and used a garlic press to prepare the garlic but when mincing it needs to be super fine.  If you do not have a garlic press you can use a food processor or take a clove, mash it with the side of your knife flat down on it and then finely dice/mince it.  The point here is to not have huge chunks so the flavor is evenly distributed around your bird.

Rosemary

I’m fortunate to have a rosemary bush and access to fresh rosemary year round.  If you don’t have a bush, pick up fresh rosemary.  Chop the rosemary up as fine as you can.  I pick the greenest tips for the youngest, most tender flavor and I do not use the woody stems.

Fresh Ground Pepper

Fresh ground pepper adds a nice flavor to the turkey and is a welcome addition to the rub.  I don’t measure how much pepper goes in but it is a few teaspoons if not a tablespoon.  If your family doesn’t care for pepper, you can skip it.  I’ve never tried pre-ground pepper opting always for using the pepper grinder but if you don’t have a pepper grinder, use the pre-ground pepper and feel free to go light on it if it isn’t your thing.

Canola Oil

The oil to use for the rub is canola oil.  When I did the first Italian style turkey I used extra virgin olive oil with the garlic and rosemary because I’d seen it used on cooking shows.  The problem with olive oil is that the roasting is going to be warmer than the smoking point of olive oil.  The only smoke flavor you want getting into the turkey is from the bacon.  Canola oil has a higher smoking point so you won’t get that burnt oil taste and smell.  You could use vegetable oil if you don’t have canola oil.  Canola oil is considered a healthier oil than vegetable oil and since you’re going to be wrapping the bird in bacon, you may as well go healthy with the oil!

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Use enough canola oil in the rub to make a paste.  In the rub above I probably could have done a better job with the garlic but this picture is from a time before we had a garlic press.

Turkey and Roasting Prep

Thaw that Bird! 

You’ve got to have a fully thawed bird.  Period.  It takes at least 3 days to thaw in the fridge and fridge thawing is the best way.  If it isn’t all the way thawed and you’re adding bacon to it you run the risk of having raw meat inside or having to overcook the outside to get the inside cooked.  Carefully follow instructions for sink or other thawing methods you find online if you aren’t able to get your bird into the fridge and thawing soon enough.

Clean!

Handling poultry properly is important.  I start by scouring the sink and finish by scouring the sink.  Rinsing the turkey is really important and the best place to do it is in a clean sink.  Get all the surfaces inside and out and rinse off the neck, liver, heart and gizzard too.  Make sure all of the feather stems are removed.  Since everything will be covered with bacon you won’t be able to spot them later.  Let the turkey drip dry a bit, you don’t want a whole bunch of extra water.  I usually hold it up by the legs to let the water inside out.

Remove the Extra Fat

After washing the turkey I remove the fat lump at the rear of the turkey where the turkey’s tail feathers are.  With all the bacon I haven’t felt the need for the extra fat in the drippings.  I will also trim away some of the extra neck skin if the butcher has left a lot on.  You just need enough to keep the meat covered.

Lift the Skin

When the bird is cleaned and trimmed I carefully lift the skin starting at the neck.  I learned about this a few years after making the first garlic and rosemary turkey.  My first try I just put the rub under the skin on the breasts.  Now I lift the skin all the way down across the legs to spread the rub.  If you do this carefully the skin will not tear.  You don’t need a knife to do this.

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Rub!

Cover every inch of the bird with the rub, inside and out, under and on top of the skin…everywhere! Do the rub before the bacon wrap.

Cooking Materials Prep

Pan

Use two disposable turkey roasting pans on a cookie sheet.  You need the cookie sheet to maneuver it in and out of the oven for basting and having only one turkey pan can be a bit flimsy.

The neck and giblets are placed around the turkey in the pan.  They’ll be absorbing juice from the garlic, rosemary and bacon the whole time and for those who enjoy them, they’ll be extra delicious.

Tinfoil Cover

Take two sheets of tinfoil (aluminum foil or aluminium foil) about twice the length of your turkey and fold about 1/4 in (1cm) up on one of the long sides of the sheets and fold it over the other sheet a couple times to form one, double wide sheet of foil with a neat fold in the middle that won’t let out steam.  The foil covers the turkey and tucks around the edges of the turkey pan.

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Bacon Wrap 

If you aren’t having fun yet, you will when the bacon gets involved!  By the time you are done your bird will be snug under not one, not two but THREE LAYERS OF BACON. You’re welcome.

The first bacon wrapped turkey I did wasn’t really ‘bacon wrapped’.  I took a package of bacon and laid it across the turkey in strips.  These slid apart during the roasting a bit and I was using thin bacon so the turkey sort of looked it was incarcerated in bacon. To get the bacon to stay you’ll need to do some weaving and it will take a try or two to get just what you’re going for.  Every turkey turns out different.  The flavor will be amazing even if the weave isn’t perfect.  Life is a learning experiment and so is this turkey.  Be proud of your progress and try again next year.

But, I’ve gotten a bit ahead of myself.  After learning about lifting the skin and having the turkey turn out so nice, I tried putting a couple slices of bacon under the skin before doing the weave. Wow! I now do it every time.  I didn’t know what it would do for the cook time if I covered the turkey under the skin completely with bacon, but increasing the roast time with the additional weight of the bacon made it a non-issue, and the flavors mixed nicely.  The layer under the skin is bacon layer number 1.

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And now comes the tricky part, the weave.  Weaving is over/under so when you’ve completed the weave there are two layers of bacon on top of the skin.

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In this picture you see a completed weave with the over/under layers. Look closely to find where one slice of bacon ends and the next begins.  Depending on how much of the slice of bacon remains I will either make a long overlap or cut it off and use it on a wing or inside the cavity.  By the time you’re done you have a nice little carpet of pieces inside the cavity.

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What to do with the wings and legs?  I first left the legs and wings exposed and just covered the breasts but it didn’t seem fair to the dark meat lovers!  I typically wrap the wings. I’ve weaved onto the legs like you see in this picture and I’ve wrapped the legs around and around, do whatever works for you and your bacon.

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Notice in the upper right of the picture on the sink the little plastic thermometer that comes with the turkey is removed.  I don’t leave it in with all the additional layers of bacon.  If you’ve completely thawed the turkey and cook according to weight you should be fine without it.  If you’re concerned, use a meat thermometer.

If there is any bacon left over, pop it back in the fridge for another day.  One year I left the extra slices in the bottom of the pan thinking it would add to the gravy but found it didn’t add enough to the drippings to make a difference.  The gravy is going to be amazing no matter what so you can set the extra bacon aside for another meal. If I prep the turkey the night before it is great to fry it up for breakfast on Thanksgiving Day.

Step Three: Roast

Preheat the oven to 450, cover the turkey with foil and cook at 450 for 30 min then lower the temperature to 325.

Cooking time will depend on the size of the turkey AND how much bacon you use.  Plan for 13 minutes per pound of turkey AND bacon.  For the turkey I’ve been showing pictures of in this post was a 19 lb bird.  19 lbs turkey + 5 lbs bacon = 24 total pounds. 24 x 13 minutes = 312 minutes or 5.2 hours.  That is about right, probably a little less because I don’t drop the temp right away in the oven.

NOTE: I learned the hard way that when adding bacon you MUST add roasting time.  Nobody wants to wait an extra hour, especially when they’ve arrived at a home that smells the way your home will smell.

I’ve never stuffed the turkey.  You’re welcome to try stuffing it, but I would suggest doing an un-stuffed turkey first.  Plus if you do not stuff the turkey it will be gluten-free and stuffing the turkey adds cooking time.

Baste

Remove and baste at the first hour and then about once an hour after that until about 30 min before it should be done.  When you pull it out to baste if things aren’t progressing along enough by the third hour you can increase the temp to 350.  Not every oven works the same so pay attention to how things are going. I haven’t done this in a convection oven yet so I can’t provide any extra insight there.

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The photo above is at one of the basting stops. I don’t remember which one.  I pull the turkey out of the oven because I don’t want the oven door open a long time so that when it goes back in it continues roasting evenly.  Using a solid cookie sheet underneath is important for being able to handle the turkey this many times for basting.  When I baste I try to also spray the under side of the cavity.  This is tricky and you can burn yourself as I have so please be careful.

Final Baste, 30 Min to Done Time

The final baste at 30 Minutes before done time is the busiest baste session.  You’ll do three things:

  1. Baste as you have in all the prior baste sessions
  2. Collect all the juice and drippings for gravy
  3. Remove the foil cover…the turkey goes back in without the cover to brown the bacon

You may not actually need a whole 30 minutes if the meat is already done per your meat thermometer or the juices are running completely clear (no red/pink).  But you do want to have at least 15 with the cover off to get the browning on the bacon.

Here is a different turkey turkey (not the one we’ve had throughout, and a much smaller bird) at that final basting stop:

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Notice how the tips of the leg bones look done, the tips of the wings look good and the drippings look right. The bacon is cooked but not brown or dried out.  You can’t smell the picture but it smells right too!  The tinfoil ‘handcuffs’ on the legs hold the legs together.  You need this for smaller birds so the legs don’t flop off to the sides too far stretching and distorting your bacon weave (yet another lesson learned).  After the bacon is browned you can remove the handcuffs and the turkey will stay in shape for the big wow when you bring it to the table for carving.

Final Product

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The above bird is the one in all of the assembly pictures in this blog post.  You’ll see with the thick cut bacon on this one I didn’t quite do a tight enough weave on it so it left gaps.  Don’t worry if that happens; nobody will complain!

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This bird is wrapped with thinner bacon and a tighter weave with no gaps.  Notice the smaller width bacon means more braiding and thus more time is spent in prep.

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And here is one more bird, the bacon on this one is wider strips but not as thick.  If you like it like this, then buy this kind of bacon.  It is up to you!  Also, this one is one where the legs were wrapped not braided.

As you can tell, these birds all turned out delicious!  Good luck with your birds and bacon!

Gravy

For gravy I take all the drippings and juice from the pan, strain it and skim off all the fat by pouring it all into a container that is slightly larger than the amount of juice. Once all the liquid from the pan is poured in I add in water until all the bacon and turkey grease comes off the top.  That is what becomes the base for the gravy.

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Bring the juice to a boil while you pre-mix cold water and corn starch and mix it in.  Taste it for salt, you’ll probably be ok but it might need a bit.  I’ve also added parsley to the gravy. If you have been really good at keeping the turkey covered you’ll have a whole lot more drippings and juice than what is in this picture.  I make it all into gravy and if there is leftover gravy we save it.  Sometimes a large turkey with lots of bacon can produce half a gallon or more of gravy. In those cases I’ve frozen it and it is super nice to thaw and use in a soup or with plain mashed potatoes  even though the consistency isn’t the same after freezing.

Miscellaneous Tips

We tend to have the Thanksgiving feast at lunchtime.  If you’re going to be slow roasting a turkey for five hours and it takes two hours to prep, this means starting at 5am.  I used to chop the rosemary and garlic and grind the pepper the night before to save time in the morning leaving the basic turkey prep (wash/rinse) and bacon braid for the morning.  But then my lovely wife suggested doing all the prepping the night before and it worked out great.  While I haven’t roasted two turkeys at the same time, one prepped the night before and one prepped the morning of, it is probably safe to say the garlic and rosemary also have more time to enhance the flavor of the meat.  If you do prep the turkey the night before, cover it with plastic wrap, air tight, in the fridge.  The foil cover isn’t enough for overnight in the fridge but you can prepare the foil cover the night before to save you that time too.

If you do prep the turkey the night before, take it out of the fridge and uncover it while the oven preheats.  It is good to let the turkey come up closer to room temp before putting it in.

Pull the turkey out when the meat is all the way done and the bacon is brown even if it hasn’t been 30 min since the last baste.

Let the turkey sit 15-25 min before carving it.

If you like to transfer the entire turkey to a large platter, slip off the outer pan and then bend one side of the remaining pan down to move/slide the whole bird.  You can use the second pan for another turkey.

Experiment with what you like.  Turkey doesn’t have to be plain and dry!  I’ve thought several times about trying to do pineapple and bacon without garlic and rosemary thinking it might turn out alright.  I’ve also thought of using apples when the bacon is an apple wood bacon.  But because the Josh’s Turkey recipe works every time for us without the fruit I haven’t tried it.

Enjoy your turkey no matter what!

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A Word About Consumer-Oriented Strategy:  How can a company tell if they have it?

Do you really know if your product is meeting the needs of a market?  Consumer oriented product strategy may just be the answer that takes you beyond UX and UI.

Consumer-oriented insight enables business leaders, product marketers and managers  to rise above the rest.  Consumer oriented product strategy enables companies to deliver products to markets with greater success.

Companies can take three different approaches to product development

1)      Create a product and then make sales and marketing efforts to convince consumers to consume the product the way it was programmed.  Companies following this approach tend to claim their product works by design when customers indicate the product should perform differently.  These companies operate under an ‘if you build it; they will come’ premise.

2)      Understand the market and embrace the consumer first involving the consumer heavily in the design and development process as the product is built.  Customers are placed first in all decisions and all product offerings are consumer-oriented with a 360 degree approach to user experience and design.  A customer using a technology product from a company following a consumer-oriented strategy would never hear the words ‘by design‘ as an excuse for not delivering to the customer’s expectations.

3)      Develop products somewhere in between numbers 1 and 2.  This is where most companies operate.  The closer a company is to consumer-oriented strategy (number 2), the more successful they will be because their customers will be much more satisfied.  Of course customers do not always know what they want or what is best so product management must be strategically balanced between the two worlds.

Note that many companies begin with a consumer oriented strategy and then backslide to the ‘by design’ mentality.  Backsliders usually operate under the auspices that they’re following a consumer-oriented strategy.  They do not realize they have slipped completely away from a consumer-oriented product strategy. 

Tesla, Solar Impulse, SRI, Comfy & More in this ControlTrends Interview

Emerging technologies, including Internet of Things technologies, are enabling building owners, operators and managers to leverage technology to impact asset NOI.  This weekend I was a guest on the ControlTrends videocast and podcast with hosts Kenneth Smyers and Eric Stromquist.  ControlTrends is a weekly show exploring the future of HVAC and building system controls, including emerging technologies.

In the podcast we talk about

You can listen to the ControlTrends ControlTalk NOW podcast here:

http://controltrends.org/?powerpress_embed=21194-podcast&powerpress_player=mediaelement-audio

 

You can watch the ControlTrends ControlTalk NOW videocast here:

Note: I’m the second interview so in this link I’ve queued up my conversation with Kenny and Eric but I’d recommend you back up and watch the whole thing.

 

 

Silicon Valley Startup Accelerators: An International Innovation Resource

Steve Hoffman, Co-Founder & CEO of San Francisco-based startup accelerator Founders Space, understands business, understands startups and understands innovation.  He recently returned from a visit to Asia that included meeting with Taiwan’s Prime Minister Mao Chi-kuo.  “Innovation isn’t confined to Silicon Valley,” Hoffman said when discussing international opportunities.  “There are talented people and a high concentration of capital here, but there is a critical mass of creativity and capital in Beijing, Taipei, Seoul and other tech hubs,” he explained.

Silicon Valley is an international innovation resource.  Governments, businesses, and research institutions throughout the world are acutely aware of and interested in the innovation that occurs in and enters global markets from Silicon Valley.  Entrepreneurs are also aware and come from all over the world to establish businesses in Silicon Valley.

Because of the nature of the connected world, entrepreneurs do not have to always be in Silicon Valley to benefit from its influence.  Entrepreneurs can come to Silicon Valley, build relationships with the local startup ecosystem, including Silicon Valley venture capitalists, and then return to their home states or countries bringing Silicon Valley influence and capital back to their teams.  Startup accelerators and incubators in Silicon Valley are becoming the common path to success for startup CEOs to accomplish these objectives.  When coming to Silicon Valley is not an option, entrepreneurs can connect to Silicon Valley startup accelerators that are expanding globally or connect to local startup ecosystems with connections to Silicon Valley.

Startup Accelerator Differentiation

Startup accelerators are beginning to differentiate in various ways.  In addition to attending events at several Silicon Valley startup accelerators, I’ve had the opportunity to work with startups in three startup accelerators, Plug and Play Technology Center, Wearable World and Founders Space.  Through those experiences it is clear each accelerator is different and has something unique to offer.

For example, most startup accelerators have a program that typically runs for around twelve weeks with events and official mentoring sessions one to three times a week and a pitch day at the end of the program.  Founders Space, in contrast, has an accelerated accelerator accomplishing the same objectives in a shorter period of time.  “Every weekday for an entire month we have people coming in to coach our entrepreneurs, to provide mentoring and to empower entrepreneurs,” said Hoffman.  “They are able to come, network, learn and accomplish their objectives in a shorter period of time, which is critical if you’re coming from overseas and only have a 3-month visa.”

Advice for Entrepreneurs

Because of the many differences between startup accelerators, the best thing an entrepreneur can do is to first determine objectives that need to be accomplished for their company while in an accelerator. This means a bit of footwork is required outlining objectives.  Spend more time deciding what you want from a startup accelerator than on what you want from your next car.

After determining objectives, find the startup accelerator that will provide the best match to those objectives.  In the search for the appropriate accelerator the decision process should extend far beyond comparing web pages.  Make time to connect either with the startup accelerator or with entrepreneurs who have participated in their programs before making a decision.

Once in Silicon Valley, review your objectives often to remain focused.  It is your responsibility to get the most out of your accelerator experience.

Wearables Dirty Laundry

WorkTechWork.com

One year ago today the first WorkTechWork.com wearable predictions were made.

During the past few weeks every company and product discussed on WorkTechWork.com related to wearables was reviewed, every company website was visited and as many people as humanly possible who are working in this space were contacted.

The update below is broken into two sections, Dirty Laundry (a summary of wearable industry issues) and Predictions Review (each prediction, its status and selected product/company highlights).  As always, your comments and feedback are welcome, especially if you disagree with the conclusions.

Dirty Laundry

With so many of you the discussions were pretty open and many things that keep you up at night were discussed.  In most cases the problems you confided were the same problems others in the space are experiencing.  You are not alone with the challenges in the wearable space.

With this insight, this update took on a new objective: Air the dirty laundry as an attempt to shed some light that may eventually bring success or at a minimum help and comfort to those of you involved in this space.  The hope is that as you see these things discussed, you will be able to discover areas to improve and to improve the wearables industry.

No one company’s dirty laundry is being aired and no, I will not reveal who’s got what kind of baggage.  I’m bullish on where wearable technology will go and confident the problems will be solved by the skilled people working in this space.  I want to see your success as wearable technology fits the WorkTechWork mantra, “Don’t work for technology; make technology work for you.”

  • Wait and See

For years now those active in the space have anticipated a wearable by Apple.  Apple, with its history of successful product launches such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad, has been seen as the possible savior and market creator for wearables.  ‘I’m waiting for Apple to create the compelling use case for wearable tech’ has become a mentality that has slowed progress.

During Apple’s detailed presentation at their event on March 9th, no single compelling use case was presented.  This is because there is no single compelling use case for wearable technology.

There are many niche applications of wearable technology that in most cases only make an attempt at partially justifying the cost of the product or service offered from the wearable technology.  What Apple, Samsung and others can only do is combine the multiple niche applications and integrate them with existing ecosystems in such a way as to create a wearable network effect.  The value of a niche application of wearable technology and the wearable network effect can be compared like the value of a single instrument and an orchestra.

One more thing on the wait and see mentality.  Many are waiting to see if the Apple Watch will flop like Google Glass before investing either their time or resources into wearable technology (and I’m not just talking about investors investing, customers investing in the purchase and learning curves of wearable tech too).  The Apple Watch is a consumer product designed for consumers making it quite different from Glass.  Wrist worn computing is not a consumer fad.

  • Focus

Just because something is possible doesn’t mean it is what should be done.  Knowing what you will not do is just as important as, and in many cases more important than, knowing what you will do.  Wannabe ocean boilers abound in the wearable space.  This comes partially because one use case does not create enough value.  Moreover, some wearable products are being developed by hardware engineers who love engineering hardware a little too much.

For example, and this is a partially fictitious example to protect the innocent, if a wearable idea incorporates a camera on wearers elbows, focusing on creating a camera is probably not the best use of time.  Finding a partner and using their camera will free up precious time to focus on the technology, the strategy and the team who will take the most amazing and compelling elbow wearable camera product to market.

Focus on the niche your wearable team can be best at in the world, whether it’s hardware, software or some other aspect.  Once that is figured out, when someone comes along and suggests that the wearable elbow camera would do amazing things if the software were altered for cows or monkeys, you’ll know what to do.  Otherwise no one will take you serious because you are not focused because while you are focused on cameras, cows and monkeys, your funds will dry up, your investors if you had them in the first place will walk away and what is left of your team will be blaming the market for not being ready for your killer application of wearable technology.

  • Design

When it comes to wearables, Silicon Valley cannot design like engineers anymore!  Wearables are not metal boxes tucked away under desks and the design challenges are everywhere.

  1. Working with small displays means designing with an incredible amount of UX focus.
  2. Working with things touching the skin means designing with touch in mind.
  3. Working with things people see means designing with visual appeal in mind.
  4. Working with things people don’t want seen means designing unobtrusively and discreetly.
  5. Working with niche applications means designing within boundaries around target functions.

The list could go on and on.  Design is the keystone in the archway to wearable success.

  • Finding Use Cases

What makes sense for one doesn’t make sense for all because wearable technology is what can be at best called a niche application marketplace (the n word has been used in each section above in case you’ve skipped to here).  Every niche has a piece of value.  When push comes to shove the use cases have to be found and the stories have to be told around those use cases.  The stories will be different for business and consumer use cases.  I do not know the stories; you do not know the stories; your customers know their story; customers like stories.

For example, let’s assume your product is a wearable magic ring that enables mermaids to take human form and walk on land (yes, I’m stretching things to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent again).  If this fictional wearable were real, packaging it simply as ‘it sprouts legs’ is a complete undersell.  What about dancing, hiking, running, jumping and the opportunity to follow your heart’s true love among all the other use cases?  Ignoring the use cases, the stories, the experiences, the enrichment brought by the product and saying ‘it sprouts legs’ sounds empty.

To avoid sounding empty as an industry we must move beyond ‘it counts steps’, ‘it tracks heart rate’, ‘it alerts you with notifications’, ‘it has a camera’, ‘it posts to Facebook’, and ‘it generates data’.  The stories of real use cases must be told to reach the wearable happily ever after.

  • Financing

Wearables companies struggle with financing.  Not everyone can pull a Pebble and raise over $8.5 million overnight on Kickstarter.  Not everyone who successfully raises capital can continue to do so.  The tides can change as we see with Jawbone who amid apparent financing and market struggles is rumored to be close to closing a $300 million investment by BlackRock (and yes, this IS quite interesting to see fund managers at a company I dedicated nearly 6 years to also interested in wearable tech. See more about the deal at http://fortune.com/2015/02/27/jawbone-blackrock-investment/Post publication note, Jawbone did receive capital from BlackRock although it appears that capital came in the form of debt, creative in the wearable financing space see more here Read on Fortune: Jawbone’s $300 million investment isn’t what you thought)

Just as it is difficult for wearable entrepreneurs to secure financing, it is also difficult for investors to see the forest through the trees with everyone vying for attention and basically presenting the same value propositions.  In many cases investors are reluctant because their participation with smaller wearable players just educates the market and paves the way for big players like Apple to come in and reap the benefits.  This could be one of the reasons Pebble went to market with Pebble Time through Kickstarter rather than through normal channels with investor funding.

  • Partnerships

It is difficult to decide who to partner with.  Some wearable companies are partnering with companies in their development and in doing so they are then unable to sell their products to competitors.  Some wearable companies are partnering with companies because they are cash strapped and the deals, while they may detract focus from the team’s ultimate objectives, involve money.  Some wearable companies have dedicated tremendous effort to work with partners on projects and then the projects have been deprioritized by the partner leaving the wearable company lagging behind competitors in areas that originally were its strengths.

Partnering with larger companies is challenging.  Be prepared for partners who tend to be slower to react than your entrepreneurial nature can tolerate.  Create partnerships for wearable development where the partnership is a means to an end, otherwise the partnership may just mean the end.

  • Doing Something New

Most wearables involve technology or applications of technology that no one has ever seen before and no one knows the value of.  New and different mean challenging, challenging to do, challenging to secure investment and challenging to understand and create markets.

The creators of wearable technology solutions often times do not know the value of their solution.  Creators also do not often know where to find out what the value is.  It is always more challenging to be a solution looking for a problem rather than a problem looking for a solution; much of what is coming out of the wearable space is in the former category.

  • Leadership & Culture

Many creative minds entering the wearable space are at the same time taking the first steps in their career paths.  Wearables is also a new area so it is impossible to find leaders with decades of experience working with wearables.  Some leadership is being transplanted from other areas to fill the void and some leadership is being groomed by skilled mentors, advisors and investors to become the next generation of disruptive leaders.

Multiple wearable companies I’ve spoken with, and no names or companies will be shared, are struggling with leadership and cultural problems.  Many startup teams don’t know cultural or leadership issues are a problem because they have not experienced anything different.  Some of these people have never worked in a business team let alone built or managed a team.  Another challenge for these teams is developers are being attracted by large, established companies which means many entrepreneurs are working with lower quality developers or are forced to outsource and work and coordinate teams spread all over the world.  These are tough challenges to lead through.

There comes a point where the frat mentality becomes too much for an organization to sustain.  There comes a point where true leaders must say goodbye to sunk costs.  There comes a point when innovative people must listen to customers, partners and investors and become leaders by changing the ship’s course, rather than sailing on in the original direction.

  • Adversity to risk

One would think in a nascent space such as wearable technology that adversity to risk would not be an issue; is it not on the front row seat in the ride to the future?  Smart people have a tendency to look for the right answer and in this niche fraught space, no single right answer exists to every question. Thinking too much about a strategy for wearable tech can lead to paralysis by analysis.

A risk adverse mentality can flourish in a group where everyone thinks alike.  Finding ways to diversify the wearable team will make it stronger and change the risk profile of the company.  You no longer will have to be afraid of the unknown or will simply overlook the obvious when someone experienced with these things is a part of your team.

  • Appropriate Business Models

Finding appropriate business models causes consternation to more wearable tech company teams than you might know.  How do companies producing wearables monetize their solution?  Once the team gets beyond knowing where value is created, the team has to figure out who will pay for that value.  Unlike other products and services where it is obvious who benefits from the product or service, with wearable technology the answer is not always clear.

For example, consider any wearable device that senses a person’s quantified self data, whether it is steps, heart rate, brain waves or any other physical or biometric data point.  It is hard to tell who, among the many who may benefit from the data, would be willing to pay.  The list of possibilities obviously includes the wearer but also extends to the wearer’s family, friends, caregiver, physical therapist, personal trainer, physicians (and a single person can have many), hospital, pharmacist, health insurance provider and even local and national governments.  Beyond this, retailers and advertisers value knowing this information as well.

  • Recovery from Failure

Wearables, much like a bad one night stand, have caused bar fights, headaches, nausea, rashes, embarrassment and shunning.  Wearables are struggling to come back from these inconvenient moments in the past, particularly when it comes to demonstrating progress.  Progress can be terribly hard to measure as wearable technology inches out of the trough of disillusionment.  Progress will be achieved by sharing the success stories of wearable technology.  The world needs to know when wearable technology has saved the time, money, health and even lives of wearers.

Some products, some companies, and some entrepreneurs in the wearable tech space will fail. The path of an entrepreneur is not paved with success; paving the path makes an entrepreneur a success.  That success is not always measured in the size of a company or numbers of products sold.

Predictions Review

The full prediction is listed for each of the 10 wearable predictions followed by a status and company and/or product highlights.  These are long term wearable industry predictions so they will not be changed or appended to with this update.

In some areas progress is slower than anticipated and also slower than consumers, entrepreneurs and investors wish progress to occur.  People are waiting for the compelling use cases and we have the issues in the previous section (and more) to work on.  Moreover, it is important to deliver on the promises we’ve made since the birth of this market.   If not, as Redg Snodgrass, CEO of Wearable World shared with me, “people will be disappointed.”  As participants in this space, the bar is set high and we must move forward.  “It’s time for us to rapidly iterate to make our products undeniably and incredibly useful for people’s lives,” said Snodgrass, who runs a wearables focused startup accelerator in San Francisco.

Prediction #1

Wearables of the future will be more than fad devices; they will satisfy customer needs. (click to view original Industry Watch)

Status

When push comes to shove, wearables will still need to satisfy customer needs.  The challenges in the previous section explain some of the reasons why needs need to be met and also why so many needs are still unmet.  It will take time but the industry will get there with this prediction.

Company/Product Highlights

Misfit

When it comes to looking at the products the first thing I’d like to do is admit that I may have inappropriately lumped Misfit’s products in with the single purpose fitness tracker device fad.  Why?  The Misfit Shine does more than track steps.  Shine looks good, tells time, tracks sleep, can be worn in many places (different clips), has a 6 month battery life, is waterproof to 50m, and has watch functionality.  In other words, Misfit Shine is more than a single purpose fitness wearable.

Fitness trackers in some form or another may not completely fade into the background as fad devices.  Some reasons include minimalist function and visibility (some can even be tucked in a pocket and you don’t have to have an ugly rubber band, however small, on your wrist).  Of course, the ever present issue of battery life helps with the lightweight fitness trackers.  Durability in extreme sports situations make these simple trackers compelling to some consumers who don’t want to risk damaging an expensive smart watch and/or its tethered smart phone.

For more on Misfit and Misfit Shine check out:

  1. https://twitter.com/Misfit
  2. http://misfit.com/products/shine
  3. https://www.facebook.com/MisfitWearables

Google Glass

In the WorkTechWork Wearable Industry Watch Google Glass for the masses was referred to as a ground breaking fad device.  Glass is no longer offered for sale to consumers; it is still being sold to Google Glass partners for enterprise use.

The most compelling reason for the fail of Google Glass in the consumer space is that an interface over the eye with a camera possibly capturing images or video at any time violates the social contract.  The eye as the interface is not gaining traction with everyday consumers.  Glass did not fail because it wasn’t cool (HBR) or because it made you look stupid (Marketing Week).  Even if Glass had passed the fashion test, been cheaper, had more applications, or had longer battery life, it still would have violated the social contract and people would still be concerned about their privacy.

Of course, Glass is still alive as an enterprise solution but for that discussion let’s take a look at the next company, APX Labs.

For more on Google Glass check out:

APX Labs

Brian Ballard, Founder & CEO of APX-Labs, caught up with me regarding Google Glass last week. “I would say that the Explorer edition elevated the entire class of the head worn devices to the top of the conversation, not just in the minds of consumers but also the conversations happening in engineering and product planning groups around the world,” Ballard explained. “Google Glass accelerated the arms race for the next great wearable device; who’s to say Google won’t make that device too?” Ballard asked.

One thing is certain, regardless of who makes the next great wearable device APX-Labs will be enabling enterprise consumers to leverage the value of that device to the fullest extent with its leading smart glasses platform, Skylight.  Ballard, optimistic for the future of wearable technology, also commented, “It’s going to be a fun ride as we move out of the ‘trough of disillusionment (ala Gartner’s hype curve)’ and into the age of real productivity.”

For more on APX Labs check out:

http://techcrunch.com/2015/03/04/google-glass-is-alive-and-well-and-living-in-the-enterprise/

Epson

I tested the Epson  Moverio BT-200 smart glasses with an APX Labs Skylight demo and a Metaio demo at the Wearable TechCon in Santa Clara, CA on Tuesday.  Epson’s first smart glasses product became commercially available in 2011 and is now producing its Moverio smart glasses for enterprise applications.  “We have a huge number of pilots at fortune 100 companies,” explained Eric Mizufuka, Product Manager for Smart Glasses at Epson America.  “They are looking for efficiency gains and/or a safer work environment.”

For more on Epson Moverio check out:

Augumenta

Augumenta provides the ability to interact through smart glasses with gesture control and virtual surfaces.  “For any situation where you have steps you must take in a specific order it improves how they get the job done and reduces the number of mistakes,” Tero Aaltonen, Co-Founder and CEO of Augumenta explained.  In other words, when workers need to perform maintenance or long processes, especially where inputs to determine next steps are required, the solution is positioned to be quite handy (pun intended).

For more on Augumenta check out:

Garmin

Garmin is branching out.  They’re adding new functionality beyond Vivofit in Vivofit 2, Vivosmart and Vivoactive.  Vivoactive is starting to look like a smart watch with its features.

For more on Garmin check out:

Samsung

There are six Samsung watches and my pick if I used a non-iOS phone would be the Gear S. Compare them all here http://www.gizmag.com/samsung-gear-s-vs-gear-live-gear-2-neo-gear-fit-galaxy-gear/33602/  or check out what the world is saying about/to them on each of their Twitter handles:

Others related to this prediction

In addition to those above, I’ve had a look again at all of these companies that were in the Industry Watch.  Here are their links should you be curious to do the same:

 

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. Click to view original Industry Watch)

Status

Crossing over device silo barriers will remain a challenge for some time in the wearables space.  There is no clear winner yet in the race to become the leading platform for wearables.  The number of products and companies who are crossing the device silo barrier is increasing.

The industry watch highlighted a number of platforms enabling IoT and/or wearable integration.  The battle is still on for who will win in the wearable platform space.  That topic will be kept for another time and I’ll share below company highlights for those working towards either wearable and wearable integrations or wearable and other IoT integrations.

Company/Product Highlights

EasilyDo

In the time since EasilyDo was included in the WorkTechWork industry watch, the number of EasilyDo users running their scheduling app on Gear S has increased tremendously.  Insight from user behavior is even more interesting and actually smashes through one of the industry trends of adoption, then abandonment of wearable and wearable related technology.  “We’re finding that EasilyDo users using Gear S are substantially more active users over longer periods of time,” said Noam Cadouri, Business Development Manager at EasilyDo.

For more on EasilyDo check out:

ICEdot

The ICEdot Crash Sensor mounts on any helmet and triggers an alarm after an impact or force is detected.  If not answered the ICEdot app on a paired phone will automatically notify emergency contacts with GPS coordinates.

ICEdot continues to make progress crossing the wearable device silo barriers because of an intentional focus on integrated solutions.  “We wanted other products to interact with us,” Chris Zenthoefer, Founder & CEO of ICEdot told me.  Our conversation centered around how his team has focused on integrating ICEdot into a helmet or product so as to minimize the steps consumers must take to use a new safety tool.  “We are not looking to be a silo unto ourselves,” Zenthoefer said.  It is exactly this kind of attitude that will bring wearable industry players success, regardless of your chosen niche.

For more on ICEdot check out:

DrumPants

Don’t believe everything you see on reality TV; all things are not as they seem on Shark Tank episodes.  Co-founders Lei Yu and Tyler Freeman have been marching to the beat of their own drum as they share with the world the value of being able to cross the device silo barrier and trigger action across the wider Internet of Things with the touch of a sensor.  “Customers find it valuable” Yu said “and our investors, including 500 Startups Sean Percival, find it valuable too.”

For more on DrumPants check out:

Nod

I’ve had trouble catching up with Nod with no response to multiple request to Nod CEO Anjali Gill who I met and interviewed regarding their gesture control ring for the original industry watch.  If anyone has an update on Nod let me know.  It would be interesting to learn why their social streams have been relatively silent for some time now, particularly given an SEC filing indicating a $9.2 Million Series A.  I’d say that’s 9.2 million reasons to at least write a 142 characters or less for a tweet.

For more on Nod check out:

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. (Click to view original Industry Watch).

Status

The challenging part of this prediction, and a place where at least in the near term this prediction may be wrong, is the second use of the word multiple.  It seems that what is happening more is that multiple sensors are being combined into a single wearable and then that omni-sensing wearable creates more value for consumers.

If, however, these sensors are to become as common as zippers eventually there will be sensors in multiple wearables so it is quite possible in the long term this will change.  A few of the products and companies that are using multiple wearables are highlighted here.

Company/Product Highlights

This Place & NeuroSky

To most people taking a picture with Google Glass and posting it on Twitter using only your mind may not seem valuable.  But, the story of quadriplegic Stuart Turner taking his first photograph in over 10 years while experimenting with Google Glass and NeuroSky with This Place’s Mind RDR platform proves the future of crossing the device silo barriers with wearable technology can create value. (see full story by Turner here https://robotsandcake.org/blog/mindrdr-and-google-glass.html)

The Neurosky EEG is a simple to use device that retails for only $79.  “Simplicity makes a huge difference for early adopters,” explained Pedro Vecchi, Director of Product Management at NeroSky when I visited their office in San Jose and experimented with some of their devices and mind games.   This is important so that platforms such as Mind RDR can be used by many people in ways that the developers themselves cannot imagine.

The Mind RDR platform is not limited to the Neurosky EEG and Google Glass.  It also integrates with Android based tablets, phones and wearables. “We are not limited to the Android platform,” explained Russell Plunkett, Innovations Director at This Place.  This Place has several developers using the Mind RDR platform to create MVPs to test ideas to make hardware for specific needs, but of course those ideas are under the radar until they are ready for release. “It’s going to be a long process to find out what we can make to add value to people’s lives,” Plunkett said.  Through that process This Place is focused on “what we can do to show what the future of interfaces will be and also what we can do to spark something for the benefit of mankind.”

For more on This Place & Neurosky check out:

Sensoria

“The fanciest socks in the whole world,” is how Alic Law, Director of Marketing and Business Development for Sensoria described the Sensoria socks in a recent conversation.  Sensoria earned two CES innovation awards this year and also recently earned a special prize for smart clothing at the Wearable Technology World Cup.  Sensoria functions on iOS and Android and was just released on Google Play.  With the latest firmware the anklet battery can run for about six hours of continuous use.  Their socks, which are made in the USA, are currently shipping and a waitlist is available for those who can’t wait to get their hands (and feet) on the gear.

For more on Sensoria check out:

Sensum

Sensum, led with the infectious energy of Gawain Morrison, Founder and CEO, is in the business of quantifying qualitative research by measuring emotional response with wearable technology.  Morrison and his team have used a variety of wearable devices including Polar chest straps, Emotive headsets, Shimmer equipment, Google Glass and other wearable devices.

In many instances research and client requirements involve integrating data from multiple devices.  When asked if multiple wearable devices with multiple sensors would create more value as this prediction prescribes he responded, “for businesses, yes; for consumers, possibly not – if you want medical grade data then more sensors makes sense; if you only want to interact with your latest game or TV show then probably not.”    Morrison believes that for businesses, particularly hard core health and fitness providers, “it’s clear that precise detail on biometric feedback ads value while for consumers it is sufficient to get by with one sensing device and a reliance on algorithms and other contextual information to fill in the blanks.”

For more on Sensum check out:

 

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. (Click to view original Industry Watch).

Status

Analytics and sensor tech continue to improve wearable intelligence and examples are shared below.  The most profound portion of the Industry Watch for this piece was this: Deep learning may find attributes in quantified self data that humans simply cannot detect.  (July 31, 2014).

Company/Product Highlights

Biosensing Wearables Landscape by Rock Health

I caught up with Teresa Wang, Strategy Manager at Rock Health for a conversation regarding the Rock Health BioSensing Wearables Landscape.  The landscape itself is not changing much with only a few new solutions being developed in the long tail of the landscape (see the original details of the landscape here).  “We’re seeing less new companies entering the space.  It’s a crowded market with lots of competition,” Wang said. “It’s a very challenging place to solve the problems in the space and to master hardware, software and design at the same time.”

For more on the landscape check out:

Cityzen Sciences, Cityzen Data

Cityzen Sciences and Cityzen Data are two separate companies that came from the same roots.   “Cityzen Sciences has the ability to integrate sensors into fabric and Cityzen Data has the tools to analyze wearable data,” explained Vincent Ethier, Head of North America for Cityzen Group USA.  In this way separate teams with similar objectives can focus on doing what they do best and people can get the most intelligence out of fabric generated wearable data.

For more on Cityzen check out:

Whistle

Whistle, who recently raised $15 million and acquired Tagg, is the leader in the pet wearable space.  Between Whistle and Tag, over 100,000 products have been sold.  Wearables for pets will be successful because these products solve a real problem, the problem of losing a pet.  “Consumers expect to solve that loss problem with GPS,” said Steven Eidelman, Co-Founder and COO of Whistle.  “Pet owners assume pets with microchips have GPS but it (the microchip) does not.”  This is where Whistle comes in to save the day and find your favorite furry friend.

For more on Whistle check out:

If you have further interest in pet wearables check out:

Empath Analytics

Empath Analytics was mentioned in the industry watch for this prediction; however, the Empath website is down and I was unable to reach anyone for comment.  If you have any information on Empath please reach out.

Prediction 5

The cost of sensors will continue to go down, thus enabling more uses and innovation with sensors in wearable devices. (Click to view original Industry Watch).

https://worktechwork.wordpress.com/2014/08/01/wearables-predictions-who-to-watch-for-prediction-5/

Status

Prices of smart clothing have not changed much since the prices were noted in the Industry Watch last August. One of the interesting aspects of wearable products is that the piece of hardware or clothing or whatever has the sensor embedded really in and of itself has little value; it is the use of the data generated by the wearable that generates the value.  While prices of the fitness apparel have not gone down, the value generated by improved analytics and other aspects of software have made the product offerings more valuable.

Company/Product Highlights

I discussed wearable sensor cost trends with many people.  Pierre-Alexandre Fournier, CEO at Hexoskin shared an excellent insight regarding the projected long-term price decrease.  “Wearable technology will become a normal component of clothing, like zippers,” said Fournier.  “In 1920 a zipper cost between $1 and $2 which is between $10-20 in today’s dollars.  You can get a pair of pants with a zipper for that much today.”

Below are links to many of the other clothing apparel sites.  A full price review is planned later on (anyone who wants to look at this together let me know).  One note is that Sensoria, whose prices were originally quoted at their now expired pre-order discount price, is the only company in wearable sport apparel that was included in the Industry Watch whose prices have appeared to have risen.

Prediction #6

Wearable devices will need less frequent charging because of better energy storage and lower energy consumption. (Click to view original Industry Watch).

Status

The battery technology in use in most wearables today is about 20 years old.  This is changing on account of research by energy enthusiasts like researcher and Stanford University doctoral candidate Wesley Guangyuan Zheng.  We caught up recently to discuss the future of energy storage, specifically as it applies to wearable technology.  Zheng explained he “is working on a particular lithium metal anode which has the highest specific capacity among all lithium anode materials.”  And when he says highest specific capacity he means being able to produce batteries with 300 to 400% improvement.  Imagine the recently announced Apple Watch with a battery life that jumps from 18 hours to 50 to 70 hours.

For more on this research by Zheng and his associates check out:

Company/Product Highlights

PsiKick

PsiKick continues to work to enable the utility of what is commonly known as “leakage current” to be usable in the sub-threshold processing regime.  This is quite challenging as circuits can stop working when voltage is turned too low.  In an IoT driven world where there will potentially need to be as many batteries as there are IoT devices, minimizing energy consumption is a must.  Moreover when it comes to our wearables, we want the battery to last.

PsiKick Co-Founder and CEO Brendan Richardson explained, “PsiKick is able to reduce energy consumption through efforts in three areas: sub-threshold processing, building super-efficient radios and thinking about it as an entire system.”  Wearables designers tend to address energy consumption by adjusting radio, micro controller and power management systems individually.  A systemic rather than a whack a mole approach to reducing energy consumption is a major enabler in the fight to keep our wearables batteries from going dead.  “We control every input and every output.  When you do that you can do amazing things,” Richardson explained.

For more about PsiKick check out:

ARM

ARM continues to further development to increase performance.  The Cortex-A72 consumes 75% less energy while improving performance 3.5 times over their 2014 devices.

For more about ARM check out:

Prediction #7

People are going to use wearable technology to make a statement about who they are. (Click to view original Industry Watch).

Status

Wearables are becoming more fashionable as wearable designers recognize wearable hardware design is different than other hardware design.  There have been plenty of stories on this topic during the past year, including stories around the movement of people from major fashion companies to companies producing wearable technology.  People will continue to make statements with wearables.

Company/Product Highlights

Apple Watch

A simple statement from the Apple Watch Design page: There’s and Apple Watch for Everyone.

https://www.apple.com/watch/design/

When you buy a watch for $10,000 you make a statement about who you are.

Pre-order April 10, 2015; available in stores April 24, 2015.  https://www.apple.com/watch

Jon Lou

A new startup to look at in this space is Jon Lou.  Lead by Founder & CEO Theodora Koullias, Jon Lou focuses on bringing well-designed and high quality products to people who face the need to be digitally connected, fully charged and fashion forward.  Koullias is building a luxury brand.  She believes the industry needs to be innovated upon and that luxury brands need “more cross-pollination of fashion with other artists, whether these be musicians, industrial designers, cinematographers, or sculptors.  These are the visionaries, the creative people, who will keep the industry alive.”  It is this open thinking that will make wearable enable more people to make a statement about who they are with their wearable tech.

For more about Jon Lou check out:

Wiacts Sense

In many cases function is more important than aesthetic, especially when your target is B2B not B2C.  Wicats is no exception, but I cannot say much more at this time.  “We are still in stealth mode and we will be at SXSW presenting Saturday and Sunday,” Wiacts Sense CEO Yaser Masoudnia told me Monday.  Keep an eye on this one.

UICO

When it comes to people who work or play in rough environments, wearables need to be durable.  In environments where gloves are used, dirt and moisture are present and temperatures are extreme, people do not want to make a statement about who they are with any of the shiny smart watches announced or on the market today.  “Wearables stop working in the cold, heat, dirt and wet,” Bahar Wadia, Co-Founder and CEO of UICO shared with me at Wearable TechCon while discussing their duraTOUCH touchscreens for wearables.  “We’re making wearables work where they are needed and we have about a million durable, industrial or fitness devices with our technology in use today.”

For more on UICO check out:

Prediction #8

People are going to use undetectable wearable technology by using wearable ultra-sensitive micro sensors, sensors smaller and more sensitive than the innovative seat belt microphone in Audi’s R8 Spyder that enables clear cell phone conversation with the top down at lightning speeds. (Click to view original Industry Watch).

Status

Many discussions regarding this prediction have involved Moore’s Law.  So much of what enables the wearable industry to even exist is because of Moore’s Law.  Apple announced Research Kit on March 9 and it appears that the research will all be iOS app and watch driven.  This means that millions of people will be able to participate in medical research and no one has to know a thing about it.

Company/Product Highlights

mCube

Wearables need components with small form factors.  In November mCube unveiled the world’s smallest eCompass and iGyro sensors with mCube’s monolithic single-chip MEMS.  “mCube has an inherent advantage in how we assemble our monolithic single-chip MEMS,” said Sean Chen, Vice President of Marketing & Business Development at mCube.  “This results in a smaller footprint and lower energy consumption, the two most desirable attributes in both wearable technology and the broader Internet of Moving Things.”

For more about mCube check out:

Medical Wearable Solutions

Discreetly sensing and then being able to take action for medical situations is important.  These applications of wearable technology, though, are very niche applications and the secrets are closely guarded until intellectual property is protected.  That being said, when I met with Dr. Vahid Sahiholnasab, CEO and Founder of Medical Wearable Solutions, we did discuss one of the solutions his team is working on.  “We have a device that detects when an anxiety attack is coming for patients with anxiety disorders and phobias,” Sahiholnasab said.  “Patients can then take action based on certain alerts.”

For more about Medical Wearable Solutions check out:

Prediction #9

The debate around ownership of wearables-generated data will continue. (Click to view original Industry Watch).

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Pierre-Alexandre Fournier, CEO at Hexoskin who shared a great insight regarding zippers for Prediction 5 also had an interesting perspective regarding manufacturers of digital cameras and digital photos, the data the device creates.  “Information recorded by wearables for health should not be different than pictures from digital cameras.  It’s obvious for us the owner of the data is the person using the shirt; it’s the only way to go.”

Obviously not everyone agrees and wearable players are on both sides of the argument with privacy policies that give them full ownership of every byte of data which contrast completely with Fournier’s view.  When it comes to privacy many questions come up.  What happens when an employer health care program provides a fitness tracker that generates data that can be used to check whether or not you’re sick when you call in sick?

Company/Product Highlights

We’re going light on the highlights here, partially because I realize if you’ve read this far you’re a trooper, and partially because just as much as has been written on this post up to this point could be written on this topic alone.  It is an incredibly important and personal topic to every human who will generate data from wearables.

One of my concerns is that if mistrust builds in this industry, knee-jerk legislation will cripple the ability to create value in this space.   I was pleased to make the acquaintance of Marcel Van Galen, Founder of the Qiy Foundation last year.  “In the Netherlands when we’re talking wearables, the privacy topic pops up immediately,” Van Galen shared.  Contrast this to the USA where the topic does not come up immediately and is often pushed to the side.  Van Galen, as well as many other Europeans believe “people should be in control over their data and the data they produce.”

Take a look at https://www.qiy.nl/ and subscribe to the quarterly Qiy notes, which actually was just published today.  You can also find more information at https://www.qiyfoundation.org/about-qiy/.

Prediction #10

Contextual awareness will be enabled by wearable device adoption and become the next big thing in marketing and customer experience. (Click to view original Industry Watch).

Status

Wearables, on account of many points already covered, are getting much more contextually aware.  In transit or stationary, asleep or awake, wearables know with a fair amount of accuracy what we are doing.

Company/Product Highlights

Skully Systems

Having the right information at the right time is the heart of context.  Skully Systems, producer of the world’s smartest motorcycle helmet, is my favorite wearable providing contextually aware information to their consumers.  With the recent close of an $11 Million Series A, promising describes the future of Skully products.

For more on Skully Systems check out:

Audience

Since its acquisition of Sensor Platforms in July 2014, Audience developed a new multi-sensory processer, the N100, and announced it at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week.  The N100 combines the voice awareness of Audience’s VoiceQ signal processing and the sensor hub processing and motion awareness of Audience’s MotionQ.  The combined solution makes the interaction between humans and devices more seamless and more contextual.

For more on Audience check out:

Moves App

When it comes to activity trackers the year has gone by without any compelling reasons for me to purchase a wrist worn activity tracker due on large part to the Moves App.  The app is available for free download for both iOS and Android smart phones.  I’m not sure if it will be completely replaced by or just compliment the activity tracking offering from the Apple Watch but I will be comparing them at least in the near term while the watch is tested.

For more on the Moves App check out:

Final Word

The past several weeks flew by with countless coffees, lunches, phone calls and meetings with wearables industry experts, all of which cannot be represented here.  Thank you to all who shared your insights and experiences.

Editing notes:  3/15/15 the estimated battery life for Sensoria anklet was incorrectly stated to last more than 8 hours; it is tested for about six. 6/10/15 added post editing note in Financing section regarding BlackRock/Jawbone.

Designing with your gut on a whim

Disclaimer: My experience with design comes from working with designers and not actually being a designer.

When push comes to shove if a designer has designed something on a whim, while it may be creative and include a lot of intuition, unless it is specifically targeted at solving a problem it may not do anyone any good, may be a waste of time and may not be good design.  If you’re going with your gut on a whim, those flutterings may not be butterflies of excitement for hitting on something that will be big; they could be a form of indigestion the outcome will not be enjoyed.

If the design is not accommodating a customer pain point, a business need, usability, or any other defined purpose, then it may just be design for the sake of design.  In other words, you need insight from customer data and insight from customer needs for design to really matter.

There are designers stuck designing and designing and designing and designing and designing and designing and designing and designing and designing and designing and designing and designing and designing and designing and designing and designing and designing and designing and designing and designing and designing… 

The aim is for perfection that is 1) not necessary and 2) not worth it and 3) not going to make a difference in the outcome, at least not a difference beyond delaying the product/service/website beyond its useful life and pushing past what early mover advantage one might have had.

I met a designer several months ago and saw him again recently.  He has been designing a product and website to perfection for over two years and neither the product nor the website have been made public and no potential customers have even seen it.  He wants it to be perfect first.  Its great to want to impress customers but its weakness to try to impress them without them seeing it.

I know it is hard to get something wrong.  The reason good designers do it is to get feedback, to understand feedback, and to work out how to adapt design based on feedback.  Successful designers do it and enjoy real butterflies.

Wearables Predictions: Who to Watch for Prediction #8

Prediction # 8: People are going to use undetectable wearable technology by using wearable ultra-sensitive micro sensors, sensors smaller and more sensitive than the innovative seat belt microphone in Audi’s R8 Spyder that enables clear cell phone conversation with the top down at lightning speeds.

This is the eighth 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.

Where the last prediction focuses on people making a statement with wearable technology, this prediction is almost the opposite, highlighting that people will put technology to work by using wearable technology and no one will know about it.  The assumption is people will be able to do this because ultra-small, ultra-sensitive sensors will be easy to hide and thus go undetected.  The devices with these sensors may even consume less energy on account of their size so not even the battery will need to be big (see prediction #6).

Micro Sensors

It is fascinating how small sensors are becoming.  mCube, which recently raised $37 million in Series C funding, provides MEMS motion sensors that are as small as a grain of sand.  While their sensors are small, the benefits for wearable technology are huge!  Another example of small sensors with huge impact is Bosch Senortec GmbH who, among other MEMS sensors, has developed a microphone that is 700 square microns which is barely visible to the naked eye.

Wearing Sensors and People Don’t Know

The Dash by Bragi is a pair of Bluetooth operated ear buds.  These are not quite undetectable wearables, but people aren’t going to know that you’re wearing anything more than a fancy pair of wireless earphones.  The Dash ear buds are chock full of small electronics capable of measuring heart rate and oxygen levels and include an ear bone microphone enabling conversation in noisy situations by reducing ambient noise.  (Check out Who to Watch for Prediction #1 where Dash is included as an example for both of the two reasons why all single-purpose wrist-worn fitness trackers will become fad devices.)  Ear bone microphones are also utilized in TEA’s Invisio headsets which are designed for defense and security uses, although in these cases the wearer isn’t really hiding anything.

While we’re on the topic of defense and security, lets touch on spying, which is a very technology enabled business.  No, I do not envision a future where the majority of the population tracking every word and move of the people with whom they interact by using devices you can hardly see.  Some people think there is enough of tracking going on by big companies and governments and there will be more on this on that in the next post Who to Watch for Prediction #9.  That said, we are going to see more person on person spying than we have in the past.  Spy-enabling technology is simple, relatively inexpensive and available for anyone to use.  Parents are even sending children to school wearing wires and documenting instances of verbal and even physical abuse.  There will undoubtedly be more court cases as a result of spying by using undetectable wearable technology.

Discreet Medical Sensing

People do not necessarily want the world to know about their medical conditions.  The prediction that people will use undetectable wearable technology may actually come to fruition in instances where the device enriches someone’s life without having to let the world know what is going on.

The hearing impaired have benefited from smaller and smaller sensors and now hearing aids can be made so small they are completely hidden; no one has to know someone is wearing a sensor to amplify sound.  Of course, the innovation in hidden hearing aids occurred well before this prediction was made.  We will see new hidden wearable devices for people to monitor their hearts, blood sugar and a myriad of other physical indicators discreetly.   We will also see miraculous advancements in bionics with touch sensitive sensors enabling someone missing a limb to sense the world around them in such a way they can do it without anyone detecting they are missing a limb.

Next Prediction: Who to Watch For Prediction #9

Previous Prediction: Who to Watch for Prediction #7

Back to Wearable Technology

Hooked

Entrepreneurs dream of making it big.  They have big ideas, big plans for taking over or creating their own niche in the world; some of them make it and some do not.  Nir Ayal has taken a look into human behavior to find out why some technology products are more successful than others.  I had the opportunity to hear him speak about his new book “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products” at the most recent ZURB Soapbox.

Nir reaffirmed my belief that technology will change the future but he did it with valuable insight into habits.  Having worked as a project manager with countless technology tool implementations, I understand resistance to change and have wondered, as he has, “Why aren’t users doing the thing I want them to?”  Nir’s answer is based in habits.  He gave several examples and from a skim of his book it appears to be full of more.

I will mention one example here.  Google vs Bing.  He said that in blind tests people cannot tell the difference between search results from Google and Bing.  Yet, even though the results are the same, a quick showing of hands in the room indicated we had all formed the habit of searching via Google.   Not only is Google now a verb, it is a habit.  Part of what makes habits so interesting is that humans are creatures of habit.  We find a successful pattern and repeat.

In the world of marketing, finding the right consumer-oriented message that creates revenue-generating repeat behavior is the ultimate objective.  Marketers strive to change human behavior and the most successful changes are ones associated with habits (although with the negative connotation of the word habit this is usually termed something else like repeat purchasing).  For those out there afraid of being marketed into habits they don’t desire, there is good news: any habit can change and any bad habit can be replaced with a good habit and any good habit can be replaced by a better habit.  I look forward to experiencing habit forming technologies that make life easier; I’m hooked on technology.

Teams, Ideas & Strategy

At events in the Silicon Valley over the past two months since my return to the US, I’ve grown more and more impressed not only with the distinct environment that the Silicon Valley is to work, live and collaborate in, but with the caliber of people and ideas coming from

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this historical hub of innovation. Yesterday was no exception at the SVForum Apps to Platforms Conference in San Jose, CA. Mayor Chuck Reed opened the event by highlighting several of the unique attributes of the Silicon Valley. San Jose, crowned years ago as Capital of Silicon Valley, is still a thriving place for innovation as was evidenced by the advanced topics of the conference. With visionary thought leaders speaking and participating in panel discussions from big name companies IBM, Microsoft, Google, Box, and Twitter alongside visionary thought leaders from several companies that may become big names in the coming decade, the conference has me thinking about three things: First, the importance of the team, second, the importance of the idea and third, the importance of the strategy.

First, teams play a vital role in determining the success of any venture but in particular that of a fledgling venture. In a personal conversation with one entrepreneur yesterday, we discussed teams as one of the things that venture capitalists are looking for. While it seems like common knowledge, it is worth repeating, if you are an entrepreneur: know that venture capitalists aren’t just investing in your idea; they’re investing in you and the people you are working with. Many great ideas have been left in the dust because the right team was not at the helm. Later, some of these entrepreneurs may wonder why someone else took the lead with a similar idea and unfortunately look outwards, rather than inwards for reasons why their success was not the same.

While it is hard to judge exactly how entrepreneurs make decisions about the team they work with, it seems to be generally accepted to work with the people you know or the amazing buddy you struck gold with when the idea was born. The point was made during the conference that sometimes founders need to step aside so that companies can grow because the same fortune that brought that person into the venture may not actually turn into fortune. If founders do not step aside focusing on their strengths as their companies grow they must adapt, growing and developing. This is what we see with those at the helm of companies such as Facebook and Box; those CEOs are the same people but do not lead the same as their younger selves with the original ideas.

Second, ideas are important and having the right idea is a good part of the equation for success in Silicon Valley. It is important to know when an idea should be abandoned. As the conference yesterday was centered on apps and platforms, it was obvious that ideas can be successful as either apps, platforms or both but it seems that when an idea encompasses both it is more likely to be successful. This had me re-thinking through one of my own ideas, which had previously been focused solely on the application side. I realize now there is far greater potential in platforms and this idea could benefit from a platform approach. Now, don’t go expecting me to quit my blogging and dedicate the rest of my life to the idea; I’m good at sizing up market segments, analyzing growth rates and making projections and this particular niche idea would be a nice project, not a world changing idea. My future ideas, though, will bear in mind the definition of a platform business model as presented by Sam Ramji, VP of Strategy at Apigee, “It is a business model which builds value for multiple sides in a given market by consolidating customers, simplifying market-wide processes, and rewarding each player in the value network between the value network and the customers.”

Strategy, the third of the things on my mind today, should be the driving force behind every maneuver in a company, especially at its inception and, as was discussed yesterday, when deciding app vs platform. I once heard a story about a baggage car of a train that due to an incorrect switch at a rail yard ended up several thousand miles from the intended destination. This was not like today when if you and your baggage are separated and it can be flown to wherever you are in a matter of hours. This was a terrible mistake. To the passengers on the train, this meant they would be much longer without their belongings. The mistake was a relatively small one, not more than a few inches separated the rails that ultimately separated the baggage from the passengers, yet inches became thousands of miles. The wrong strategy at inception can similarly equate to you being very far from success. You’ll go farther with the right people, the right idea and the right strategy.