During our time in London we had two distinct interactions which highlighted how exciting the space of wearable technology is going to be really really soon. Moo.com, a startup in the past and now a mature company with roughly 250 employees, disrupted dinosaur industries like printing business cards, postcards and minicards. In a recent fireside chat with the CEO Richard Moross organised by Startup Grind, it was really interesting to learn how they are experimenting with wearable technology for storing and sharing personal information. Secondly, the moment one thinks of watches, arm bands, tech enhanced clothing, the ridiculousness of a Qwerty based keyboard becomes obvious as an input means. 5 tiles, one of the most innovative mobile technology startups from the UK, has designed a clever keyboard that uses only 5 keys instead of 30 or more, leaving three times more space for the user’s fingers. This makes it one of the few keyboards that works across all screen sizes.
Across the pond, in this years SXSW in Austin, there was a separate category for wearable technology in the annual accelerator competition. Entries included smart watches from Canadian startup Bionym which recognised the users identity from their heartbeat pattern to Fashion Discovery App’s app for Google glass that would allow an user to shop online for the exact same clothes from photos of passerbys. The startup that won the competition though was Skully helmets from the valley that created an augmented-reality motorcycle helmet. The helmet has a 180-degree rear-view camera that projects images to a transparent headset display, so the driver’s eyes can see around them in every direction, while never having to leave the road ahead. This is a product every serious motorbiker, including myself can totally relate to and would happily pay for. I am yet to ride a motorbike where the rearview mirrors are functional, let alone adequate which leads a lot of motorbikers to constantly dart a glance backwards while making turns or switching lanes.
Zooming out a bit, analysts at the investment bank Credit Suisse estimate that the wearable technology industry will go from a US$3 billion to US$5 billion industry today to a mind-blowing US$50 billion industry in just 3 to 5 years, According to the bank, investors highly underestimate the potential uses for the technology and are only focused on a narrow set of verticals. As an illustration of what is possble, medref for glass could enable nurses to be completely up to date by looking at the patient through Google Glass rather than reading copius notes on a clipboard attached to the bed.
What does all this mean for startups in the space?
– New API sets will become available creating new marketspaces and apportunities using new devices.
– New kind of personal data will be collected and made avialable to design better products and services.
– Technology will become an even greater extension of the self enabling greater self-projection of values and ideals increasing demand for more customised offerings.