Learning about the wearable technology space

When it comes to wearable technology, quite a lot of us will almost automatically think of Google Glass (and perhaps stop there). However, there are a lot more businesses out there that concentrate on some form of wearable technology. In this post I’ll highlight some good examples which I’ve come across recently:

  1. Jawbone – Jawbone has been building mobile technology products for over a decade. The San Francisco based company is well known for products such as Jambox, the first intelligent wireless speaker (see Fig. 1 below), and its NoiseAssassin® technology, claiming to effectively eliminate all (external) noise.
  2. Memoto – The Memoto “Lifelogging Camera” takes a photo of your life every 30 seconds. It’s a small wearable camera that not only takes a picture, but also captures where and when it was taken (see Fig. 2 below). Once plugged into your computer, all pictures are automatically uploaded onto the Memoto Lifelogging Cloud.”
  3. Melon – Melon is a company which produces the “Melon Headband” and its mission is to “make the invisible activity of your brain visible and understandable.” Melon headbands will become available in 2014, but the Melon founders already claim that the main differentiator of their product – over existing EEG headbands already out there – is that it doesn’t just measure your brainwave activity, it also tries to make it understandable (see Fig. 3 below).
  4. Recon Instruments – Recon Instruments produce wearable products aimed at the sports market. For example, the “Recon Jet” (which will become available in 2014) is presented as “the world’s most advanced wearable computer” and seems clearly aimed at cyclists. Connectivity of the ‘Jet’ to users’ smartphones and and other third party sensors will form a crucial part of this product (see Fig. 4 below).
  5. AirStrip – AirStrip’s main mission is to “drive clinical transformation through mobility” and a good example hereof is its “AirStrip One” product. I struggle to summarise this solution in 1 or 2 sentences but it can probably be best described as a cross-platform tool that lets clinicians enter and access patients’ medical info digitally in a very easy and interconnected way.

Main learning point: Google Glass originally sparked my interest in wearable technology, but I then quickly realised how fast the wearable technology space is growing and how some companies have been in it for a long time already. Think of the aviation industry where pilots have been using wearable technology for decades or the fitness sector where workout armbands have been in fashion for a while now. I was nevertheless fascinated by some of the companies that I looked into and the range of wearable solutions already covered.

Fig. 1 – A short demo of Jawbone’s “Jambox” by VigTheGeek

Fig. 2 – A short introduction to Memoto’s Lifelogging Camera by Slashgear

Fig. 3 – A short introduction to Melon Headbands by Kickstarter

Fig. 4 – A short introduction to the Recon Jet by Recon Instruments 

Fig. 5 – Screenshot of the AirStrip ONE solution by AirStrip 

AirStrip ONE Related links for further learning:

  1. http://www.engadget.com/2013/03/12/memoto-lifeblogging-camera/
  2. http://memoto.com/pages/how-the-memoto-lifelogging-experience-works-infographic
  3. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jessedraper/2013/08/01/a-melon-for-your-melon-wearable-tech-for-your-brain/
  4. http://www.businessinsider.com/how-were-all-going-to-be-using-wearable-technology-2013-7
  5. http://www.wearable-technologies.com/
  6. http://www.airstriptech.com/airstrip-one
  7. http://www.fitbit.com/uk
  8. http://hbr.org/2013/09/wearables-in-the-workplace/ar/1
  9. http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Tracking-for-Health.aspx
  10. http://www.wearable-technologies.com/gadgets-of-the-month/revolutionary-gps-goggles-from-recon-instruments/

Stop losing stuff with Tile

I was really intrigued when I found out about Tile, an app that helps users find their lost items. People talk a lot about the “Internet of Things” and Tile is a tangible example of this concept. So what is Tile?

  1. A small hardware device – A “Tile” is a small white device that you can easily attach to any items that you wish to track (e.g. a laptop, a wallet or a bicycle – see Fig. 1). With its GPS-like functionality users can track their items through their Tiles. Tiles doesn’t have to be recharged and they come with a built-in speaker so that you can hear whenever you’re getting closer to the item that you’re looking for.
  2. An app to go with the device – The main idea behind the Tile app on your phone is to make it easier to find your Tile(s). For example, the app remembers where it last saw your Tile or you can use the app to ring a specific Tile to find out where you’ve left it. Also, the app lets users turn on a range view when they are within 100-150 feet of a Tile. This view will help you figuring out whether you’re getting closer (or not) to the Tile that you’re looking for (see Fig. 2).
  3. A community of Tile users – A user’s ability to retrieve their valuables through Tile will largely depend on the wider network of Tile users. The idea is to create a distributed network of Tile users who all receive an alert in case a fellow Tile user marks one of his items as lost. It sounds like the team at Tile aren’t initially highlighting this functionality, arguing (quite rightly) that users don’t need a whole community to hunt down the set of keys that they might have lost in the house.

Main learning point: Tile is the latest exponent in a recent trend involving connected objects, where the device is connected to an app that the user can control. The main proposition is a simple but an appealing one; helping you to find your lost items. I can see Tile becoming a success and building up a group of loyal users fairly quickly.

However, I believe that Tile’s success rate will depend largely on two factors: price and community. A Tile is currently priced at $25 which could pose a bit of a financial hurdle to users. Secondly, for a user to get the most out if his Tile, the presence of an ‘alert’ Tile user community is critical. I guess that’s the question I’m curious to find about the most: how many people will soon be tagging their personal items through Tile?

Fig. 1 – Tile’s small device that helps you track real-world items

Fig. 2 – The app lets users turn on a range view to work out if they’re getting closer to their Tile tile-signal-strength Related links for further learning:

  1. http://techcrunch.com/2013/06/20/tile/
  2. http://www.thetileapp.com/