By Padma Nagappan
Misfit Wearables, the wearable computing start-up with $7.6 million in funding, founded by Sonny Vu and Sridhar Iyengar, co-founders of AgaMatrix, and former Apple CEO John Sculley, has kept mum on what it’s developing. During his presentation at the WLSA Convergence Summit in San Diego this week, Vu didn’t reveal any secrets, but rather focused on the future of wearables and how the next generation of wearables might look.
“We had the PC revolution in the 80s, something my co-founder John Sculley was a part of. Then we had laptops, smart phones, tablets – now its wearable computing,” Vu said.
Vu noted recent progress in fitness technology, too, by pointing to companies like BodyMedia that have pioneered straps, armbands, watches and other products that measure vitals: “You have some sleep related products that are really cool. You have patches from Duofertility, Dexcom, Metria, Corventis and Proteus,” he said. “There are shoe worn products like the Nike+, internet connected weighing scales and wireless blood pressure monitors.”
Vu said that “Wearables 1.0″ compete with fashion, require users to to remember to wear them, and have no function outside of sensing.
“If wearable technology is going to get proliferated, one of the directions it will head in [will be to] get less fashionable,” Vu said. “Someone tweeted me asking if we’ll go with fashions and I said ‘Absolutely not, because then some day we won’t be fashionable.’ So with ‘Wearables 2.0′ we’re going against fashion. Second, you have to wear it without thinking about needing to wear it. Third, it has to have other functionality. And as a bonus, it may even get reimbursed.”
A while ago someone asked Vu when wearable technology would become socially acceptable, and he replied that it first has to cross the hurdle of not making someone feel like Iron Man or a Tron.
Wearables hold great promise for medicine, Vu said, starting with big data generation — the challenge and advantage of having highly wearable products is that they will generate boatloads of information, without using a lot of labor. However, we will need to learn to mine it.
Vu predicted that wearables will be easy to use and reimbursed business models will come about. There will also be a broader research community surrounding these devices, not just hackers and fashion designers, but the medical research community and others, he predicted, while fending off questions about what Misfit is developing specifically.
Vu characterized a successful wearable device as one that someone would return back home to pick up if they forgot to take it with them and were already halfway to work.