Everyone is talking about wearables. Some people passionately rave about the virtues of the new iWatch. Others are placing their bets on an array of devices that are connecting our bodies to the internet and the world in a whole new way. I asked wearables expert Julien Blin to share his point of view on where the market is today and what developments he expects in the future.
Julien Blin has over 10 years experience in the mobile space. During his tenure at Samsung, Blin shaped the strategy and built contextual experiences and services such as Samsung Hub, an iTunes type service and Samsung WatchON, a video aggregation engine, two services currently available on the Samsung Galaxy S4. He currently advises several wearable computing startups such as Optinvent, Plantiga and Kenzen Wear. Julien is the founder of Gizworld, a leading global wearable computing consultancy. He organizes IoT conferences around the world that showcase emerging new companies alongside giants like Intel, Google, Adidas, Nike, Pebble, Misfit Wearables, Renault, Withings, and more. He is also the founder of the Smart World Alliance, a global alliance focusing on bringing together the key players in the wearable computing and IoT space. Julien is also the CEO of Henosis, a wearable computing startup bringing the best of wearables to prof3essional sports teams. Julien has been quoted in leading publications such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Dow Jones, and BusinessWeek.
What trends are developing in IoT & wearable tech?
Fitness trackers will soon become more intelligent with better biosensors and algorithms to provide users with real insights about their health. Smart clothing companies will partner with major apparel companies so that when you go to a store the clothes you buy will be embedded with biosensors. Biosensors will be embedded in everyday clothing and won't be inhibitively expensive. The consumer will only pay a small premium for embedded clothing.
2016 will also be a big year for Virtual Reality with the growing adoption of mobile VR devices. Oculus will also launch its first Oculus devices in the first quarter of 2016. Facebook, Samsung, Google and other big companies will make a strong push there. I am also a big believer in IOT for children. Companies like Mattel, Google and Disney are set to take the lead there. Crowdfunding and crowdequity platforms have also become big drivers to fund wearables and IOT startups and projects.
How will our world be different in 5 years because of IoT & wearable tech?
Our world will be a lot more connected. We will evolve in a world where people will be riding in self-driving cars, get their packages delivered to their door via drones, etc. Our homes will be truly smart, where everything will be automated and your home will know your habits, what you like and will be able to predict your needs.
What are some of the major hurdles that must be overcome in this industry?
The biggest hurdles are: privacy, standardization, awareness, real use cases that solve real problems. Many companies and products are still caught up in just experimenting to build something new and cool. As the market moves into the next stage, companies will have to focus on solving real world problems to create successful companies.
Some people claim this market has been over-hyped. What do you say to them?
Wearable tech was born 30 years ago, so it is hardly a new fad. Now things are changing and we are witnessing wide range acceptance as major players (Apple, Samsung, Google, Facebook, etc.) are getting into the space, which brings tremendous credibility. I think that we are at the beginning of a big trend that will revolutionize the world of computing. 30 years ago we saw a first wave revolution with personal computing and today we are seeing another revolution with wearable computing and IOT. This space is so diverse and unpredictable. New players are popping up every day. We will see many companies that will fail but some others will emerge as big winners. The next big innovation might emerge from small IOT startups and that's what I am the most excited about.
What role will equity crowdfunding play in the launch of new products?
Equity crowdfunding is a great opportunity for IOT entrepreneurs to get funded and launch their product. They don't have to go to traditional VCs to do so. Plus it will be important for getting startups led by women funded. We know they face additional roadblocks with VCs. Equity Crowdfunding should allow them more direct access to supporters and their funds so they can get the opportunity to build their own companies.
How do you identify a winning IoT/wearable startup?
A winning IOT/wearable tech startups must have these 5 things:
1. Experienced founding team
2. Strong advisory board
3. Highly differentiated product that solves a real problem
4. Long term vision
5. Passion to succeed no matter what obstacles occur along the way
What are the most exciting young IoT startups?
Some of my favorite IOT startups include:
Nixie (mini drone)
Kenzen Wear (smart patch 2.0)
Magic Leap (AR)
Leia (3D holographic displays)
Optinvent (Beats type headset with AR capabilities)
Do you think wearables are hot or not?