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Hottest topics from the Wearable Technology Show 2019

Thrive Wearables was proud to again support the Wearable Technology Show, this year held at the Business Design Centre, 18-19 March 2019. The new London venue was a welcome change offering better accessibility, excellent exhibition space, stage areas and breakout rooms.

Across the two days, there were keynotes covering some of the major trends in wearables, technical presentations and a packed conference schedule. Thrive supported the Innovation Stage on which we hosted an intimate series of presentations and panel discussions. Dr Jacob Skinner from Thrive facilitated a well-attended panel, focusing on ‘Gaining traction with wearables’ with Stefan Chmelik (BioSelf Technology) and Monika Dunkel (KTN). Our CEO also took to centre stage, sharing his thoughts on AI and edge technology.

Let’s review the top moments from the show.

The Hot Topics

  1. The discussion around finding compelling applications in wearables was dominated by the burgeoning opportunity in preventative and predictive health products. Thrive will be exploring that theme in further detail at the Future Healthcare Show, where we will be presenting a full two-day conference programme. 

  2. New opportunities with regards to bendable screen technology were discussed at length, including the intriguing prospect of enabling further applications, engineering stretchability into the screen. This could allow another step change in the applications for body-worn technologies. 

  3. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) was a strong theme at the Smart Textile track. The process of exchanging information and energy between objects, including people and their connected clothes, is extremely important when it comes to creating seamless wearable technology experiences. As RFID diversifies in terms of bandwidth and power parameters, it is surely at the very least the forerunner to battery-less, intelligent wearables of the near-future – something Thrive will be discussing at the IDTechEx Show in Berlin next month. 

  4. Emteq were exhibiting with their offering in the emotion tech space. There is a massive interest in and around emotion-detecting technology for rehabilitation, wellbeing, gaming and measuring the physiological parameters associated with emotions is a fairly well-established field. The combination of AR glasses technology and human and environmental sensing is also a growing sector. 

  5. Finally, the concluding talk on the first day by Michael Collier from McLaren Applied Technologies was remarkably interesting. Michael talked about how McLaren used wearable technology to spot physiological indications of elite potential in e-sports participants. The winner out of 30,000 participants ending up signed up as a racing driver! Thrive have been working on some very interesting machine learning work in a similar context and have seen first-hand the spectacle of the booming e-sports arena!

Gaining Traction with Wearables

As mentioned, Thrive further engaged the Innovation Stage’s audience with a panel discussion focused on how wearable technology is being improved to offer ease of widespread adoption and integration across sectors and lifestyles. Jacob was joined by Stefan Chmelik of BioSelf, and Monika Dunkel of Innovate UK, with all three offering deep insight, sharing their thoughts and answering questions from the crowd.

During that discussion, the question, ‘Are niche wearables the way forward?’ was posed. Both Monika and Stefan agreed that a move towards specialised and focused wearables has been notable of late, and that indeed we are already much more comfortable with using technology appropriately to a given situation and ‘on our own terms’.

Monika spoke of seeing wearables becoming more specialised especially in the sports field, referencing Fitbits and swimming goggles as examples, explaining how these are being further improved through smaller and more flexible batteries, energy harvesting, and better washability.

Stefan gave a really compelling insight into wearable product adoption, stating that being able to induce an emotional response is what induces subsequent behaviour change in people. This is key to the adoption of wearables. Stefan concluded, ‘As wearables become more focused, it will be nice to see them become less “disposable”.  A point that we feel is important in a sustainability conscious world and where technology must be lead by solving genuine problems.

There was great engagement from the audience, and Russ Bradford, co-founder of the Parkinson’s Concierge and a person living with Parkinson’s, expressed strong positivity to the prospects of Wearable Technology, hoping to see data and measurements that could help them with their daily needs. Shaking, freezing, medication monitoring and gait measurements were examples of how wearables could potentially help. They are excited about the future of wearables and optimistic for how it can help them manage their condition better.

AI on the edge of the edge

Finally, our own CEO presented on the theme of how AI on the edge of the edge is increasingly being harnessed to improve the user experience, security and value of wearable technology products. This is something that we have discussed at length recently on the blog and you can read the thinking in detail on our website.

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