Last week I attended the Churchill Club‘s forum, Wearable Technology: The Next Frontier (yeah, I’m behind on blogging). It was my first time to attend one of their events and my only disappointment was in not doing it sooner. Good conversation, great forum participants, good food, all 20 minutes from the house.
Here are my notes on comments or discussions that I found interesting or noteworthy, in no particular order:
1. Monisha Perkash, CEO of Lumo, said that we are at or very near the novelty to necessity inflection point for wearables. I think for a lot of folks we are getting there. Someone defined necessity by the “turnaround factor”, IOW would you turn around to go get a wearable if you forgot it. I was at that point as an athlete some years ago with my HRM, and I have to wonder what percent of the population will ever be that hooked on wearables although I think it’s a great goal to have as a product designer.
2. Justin Butler of Misfit used an analogy that I use a lot , which is that we have a lot of noise to turn into signal in terms of getting useful info out of our devices. Combined with one of his other comments (which I also tend to agree with) that much of the hardware is commoditizing or getting close to it, and I think the smart money is focused on analytics and data analysis, which gets you a step closer to the holy grail of behavior modification. Lately I’m playing with the Lark app, which is headed in that direction with a very easy to use conversational angle on coaching, but it’s not super advanced. Exist.io is next on my list.
3. I think it was Mike Bell of Intel who said that the market will likely remain fractured just given personal desires and, just as importantly, the image that people want to project with their things. This sort of contradicts the commoditization story and I think that it will be category dependent, for example watches will remain fractured but other devices, say adhesive backed HR sensors, will become commodities.
4. The topic of data access, ownership, and platform openness came up several times. Perkash said that Lumo had recently done an integration with Validic. It’s clear that the apps and platforms (like HumanAPI) looking to do this are either not getting the word out, or folks have tried them and found them wanting.
5. I think it was Yves Behar who made the distinction between “basic” vs. “smart” wearables by whether there was third party access to the data, and I think this is a useful distinction. Another way to slice it would be to say that if the device is paired with an analytic capability that guides behavior, it qualifies as smart even if the data are in a walled garden. I can imagine niche applications that would fall into this category, especially where the device vendor might be leading the way in data analysis.
6. The moderator asked which industries are not thinking about wearables but should. Responses were aging in place, disaster response , injury prevention, and aggregating data across populations.