- May 26, 2015
Wearables – the beginning of the next big thing? The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
I was fortunate to attend the recent World Wearable Congress 2015 (#wwc2015) in San Francisco last week. I attended the inaugural Glazed Con conference in 2013 and back then there only about 200 attendees. This year there were over 1000 people from all over the world including Germany, Iran, Hong Kong, Russia, Israel and yes even a flying Dutchman.
The Good: The location and the attendees.
For once someone decided to pick a beautiful location and I was pretty amazed with the setting. The Palace of Fine Arts was absolutely amazing and if you have not been there, you probably should. The expo took place in the middle between the theater and “convention” area. We were also lucky that the sun was out. The main reason they chose this location is because they also hosted the World’s Fair at the Palace of Fine Arts in 1915 and thus made San Francisco a hub of innovation. A 100 years later, it was once again host to the next revolution in innovation, the wearable revolution!
I unfortunately missed the morning opening session, because our flight was cancelled at 6:45, so we had to take a later one into Oakland. This is a common problem flying out to San Francisco – Oh well. Once I got settled in my hotel I took Uber to the event – my favorite way of transportation.
The expo was good with over 50 vendors, start-ups and Entrepreneurs show casing their products and innovations. While some of the products were either a bit over the top, there were a few that caught my eye.
Skully – The SKULLY AR-1 Heads-Up Display features a rearview camera and a navigational system that gives the rider unparalleled control of the riding experience. As a motor cycle enthusiast, I was amazed with this new technology and Skully is well on their way to become successful. The only irony was that no one was manning their expo desk.
Check it out http://www.skully.com/#smartest-helmet
Amby Gear – A wearable smart watch keeping families connected and providing peace of mind and rewarding kids via gamefication. The smartwatch includes accurate location reporting, wifi & bluetooth smart connect, loaded with apps for kids and build in tamper alert. It’s an interesting concept, but I was wondering why you would just create a simple smart band or foot band with geo location detection in the event that your child were to be kidnapped? Check it out at http://ambygear.com/
Nuheara – Hearables? Yes, you heard me – hearables. An amazing concept that wants to innovate the way how we hear, listen and communicate. At this point only a concept, but very interesting. Crowd funding campaign coming soon.
Check it out at http://www.nuheara.com/
One of the highlights for me was the Connected Parenting in a Wearable World. The panel included a smart toothbrush (Grush) that monitors your tooth brushing habits; Bellabeat – innovative wearable company whom create a piece of jewelry that monitors stress and well being and Sproutling whom created the first smart baby monitor. Check these companies out.
The Bad: Are we talking about wearables or Crowdfunding?
I was looking forward to listen to innovators, entrepreneurs and visionaries, but with the exception of two or three, most of the topics focused on how they raised capital, how they use crowd funding platforms, the pitfalls of crowdfunding etc. I am all for listening to how to raise money, but that was not the focus of the conference. If you want to organize a Crowd Funding conference then please do. Kudos to the founder and CEO Mike Norman of Wefunder and his success with Zenefits! 7 Investors initially all funded a million dollars. Three years later Zenefits is valued at over 4.5 Billion.
I am not opposed to these success stories, but let’s focus on wearables please!
The Ugly: Can Wearable World Congress grow up please?
I attended many conferences and there are always 2 fundamental problems.
The first is that you will always have a hard to time to connect with people. If you are an introvert,the chance of you meeting someone is slim to none. If you are an extrovert like me, you pretty much need to talk to everyone in order to connect with the right crowd. These conferences are turning in nothing more than a advertising platform for start-ups. Great for investors, but not for people $ 1000 plus to attend and meet people. Someone must come up with a better way to connect people, otherwise these type of conferences will become nothing more but product presentations (Magento’s Imagine 2015 was similar).
The second problem is that the presentations are not interactive at all. A few talented people on stage discussing their stories, failures and successes is one thing, but then to ask for the audience to clap and say good bye is NOT enough. These sessions are supposed to be interactive, we should be able to learn from these industry leaders and innovators. A really good conference that does this right is the IA Summit. The organizers make sure that 10 minutes are dedicated to questions and interactions. This is why we come to these conferences – to learn.
Was the conference worth it? Absolutely – we are at the very beginning stages of the wearable revolution, which right now only focuses on Health and Wellness. It will take some time for other industries to become mainstream.
Would I recommend anyone going next year? Yes – but just be aware that unless #wwc15 makes some drastic changes in the way they organize the conference, you will be exposed to vendors and people whom are eager to sell their products. What’s next? Implantables?
Music: Please do us all a favor next year, turn down the music just a little, that way we can actually hear each other during lunch!
Luckily for me there is always the option to grab an Irish Coffee at Buena Vista Cafe!