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Is The Future of Smart Clothing Modular or Integrated?

Posted on September 4, 2014 I Written By

Kyle is CoFounder and CEO of Pristine, a VC backed company based in Austin, TX that builds software for Google Glass for healthcare, life sciences, and industrial environments. Pristine has over 30 healthcare customers. Kyle blogs regularly about business, entrepreneurship, technology, and healthcare at kylesamani.com.

OMSignal recently raised $10M to build sensors into smart clothes. Sensoria recently raised $5M in pursuit of the same mission, albeit using different tactics. Meanwhile, Apple hired the former CEO of Burberry, Angela Ahrendts, to lead its retail efforts.

And Google is pushing Android Wear in a major way, with significant adoption and uptake by OEMs.

There’re two distinct approaches that are evolving in the smart clothing space. OMSignal, Sensoria, and Apple are taking a full-stack, vertical approach. OMSignal and Sensoria are building sensors into clothing and selling their own clothes directly to consumers. Although Apple hasn’t announced anything to compete with OMSignal or Sensoria, it’s clear they’re heading into the smart clothing space in traditional Apple fashion with the launch of Health, the impending launch of the iWatch, and the hiring of Angela Ahrendts.

Google, on the other hand, is licensing Android Wear to OEM vendors in traditional Google fashion: by providing the operating system and relevant Google Services to OEMs who can customize and configure and compete on retail and marketing. Although Google is yet to announce partnerships with any more traditional clothing vendors, it’s inevitable that they’ll license Android Wear to more traditional fashion brands that want to produce smart, sensor-laden clothing.

Apple’s vertically-integrated model is powerful because it allows Apple to pioneer new markets that require novel implementations utilizing intertwined software and hardware. Pioneering a new factor is especially difficult when dealing with separate hardware and software vendors and all of the associated challenges: disparate P&Ls, different visions, and unaligned managerial mandates. However, once the new form factor is understood, modular hardware and software companies can quickly optimize each component to drive down costs and create new choices for consumers. This approached has been successfully played out in the PC, smartphone, and tablet form factors.

Apple’s model is not well-suited to being the market leader in terms of raw volume. Indeed, Apple optimizes towards the high end, not the masses and this strategy has served them well. But it will be interesting to see how they, along with other vertically integrated smart-clothing vendors, approach the clothing market. Fashion is already an established industry that is predicated on variety, choice, and personalization; these traits are the antithesis of the Apple model. There’s no way that 20% or even 10% of the population will wear t- shirts, polos, tank tops, dresses, business clothes, etc., (which I’ll collectively call the “t-shirt market”) made by a single company. No one company can so single-handedly dominate the t-shirt market. People simply desire too many choices for that to happen.

OMSignal and Sensoria don’t need to worry about this problem as much as Apple since they’re targeting niche use cases in fitness and health. However, as they scale and set their sites on the mass consumer market, they will need to figure out a strategy to drive massive personalization. Apple, given its scale and brand, will need to address the personalization problem in the t- shirt market before they enter it.

The t-shirt market is going to be exciting to watch over the coming decades. There are enormous opportunities to be had. Let the best companies win!

Feel free to a drop a comment with how you think the market will play out. Will the startups open up their sensors to 3rd party clothing companies? Will Apple? How will Google counteract?

Timex SmartWatch Doesn’t Need a Smartphone

Posted on August 20, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

We’ve been covering a lot of the movement in the SmartWatch space. It’s a really interesting set of technology since every one of them integrates some piece of healthcare into their technology. One of the features of pretty much every smartwatch out there is that they’re essentially just a second screen for your smartphone. That means you need a smartphone to be able to use the smartwatch. That’s not really too much of an issue since most of us have smartphones.

While it’s true that most people have smartphones, when it comes to health and fitness you often don’t want to carry around your smartphone while you’re running, swimming, biking, etc. With this in mind, I was intrigued by the announcement of the Timex Ironman smartwatch that doesn’t require a smartphone. Here’s a short description from the WSJ article:

The point, for Timex, was to create a device that could keep someone connected during hardcore workouts without having to bring along a smartphone or music player. It’s waterproof down to 50 meters, so it’s fine for swimming and even diving, and has a Qualcomm Mirasol display, which is more visible in direct sunlight than many LCD screens.

The watch tracks a user’s speed, distance traveled and pace in real time, and can share it with friends and family who want to follow along. The wireless connectivity enables the watch to send email messages, and a “find me” mode allows users to send an alert to emergency contacts such as friends and family if trouble arises.

I see this as another great evolution of the smartwatch environment. First, it provides a health and fitness alternative that makes a lot of sense. Second, it’s really interesting to see a company like Timex getting involved in the space. It will be really interesting to see how Timex does developing a touchscreen watch since that’s not their usual skill set.

Qualcomm Toq Smartwatch

Posted on November 26, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Most of you will remember my post on the Qualcomm Toq Smartwatch announcement. I just got word that I’m on the list to get one of these watches. I can’t wait to try it out. In fact, I’m even more excited after watching this video demoing the smartwatch:

I can see a number of times I would love to have this smartwatch. I love having my calendar on it. Sure, I could pull out my phone, but a smartwatch right there seems a lot nicer for some reason. I also love the notification aspect of it. I often miss messages on my phone, but this would be easier to check and see if I need to address something or not. I also can see me reading my Twitter feed on it as well.

Of course, from a health perspective, I’m looking forward to see what health apps are built into the watches. I wonder if it and smartphones will replace all the other hardware based fitness trackers for example. Fred Wilson, a NYC VC, has a great post on Software vs Hardware startups. He asks an interesting question about whether the innovation will happen in hardware or software.

What do you think of the smartwatch?

iWatch Video

Posted on September 30, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

It looks like the iWatch is still coming. Check out this video from Business Insider where they talk about the future iWatch.

Check out our previous smartwatch coverage of Samsung, Qualcomm, and even Nissan.

Nissan Introduces Smartwatch that Connects to Your Car

Posted on September 13, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Most people aren’t surprised to hear about a smartwatch from Apple, Samsung, or even Qualcomm. Even the heart rhythm biometric wristband I wrote about is not that big of a surprise. Although, I have to admit that I didn’t think the next smartwatch product I saw would be coming from Nissan. Yes, Nissan, the car company.

The Nissan Nismo Watch are targeted at drivers of Nissan Nismo cars (supercars, race cars and ridiculously tricked-out performance kits). Check out a video of the watch and some of its features:

Obviously, many of the features are displaying the details of the car. Car enthusiasts will love it. It does have a heartbeat monitor in the watch. Feels a bit like healthcare, but is likely to see how your heartbeat reacts to high speeds. Remember these are performance cars.

Despite this particular smartwatch’s lack of healthcare applications, it’s interesting to think about a smart watch paired with a car. The watch can act as a monitoring device. The car can store as big a processing device as you desire. Voice commands can work really well in a car because of the closed environment. You can check your watch while driving (although this may become an issue if the watch is too smart). Your car has built in speakers which can be controlled by the watch or communicate what’s happening on the watch.

I haven’t thought about all the applications of a smartwatch in a car, but it’s really intriguing. I know that many car manufacturers have their eyes on the mobile health space. I have little doubt that are cars will become smart healthcare devices for our lives. This is particularly true for those who spend hours and hours each week commuting in their car. A smartwatch connected to the car is an interesting extension to the smart car concept.

Galaxy Smartwatch Preview Video

Posted on September 10, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

It looks like it’s Smartwatch week here at Smart Phone healthcare. Plus, it will continue tomorrow with another interesting Smartwatch twist. However, for those interested in the recently announced Galaxy Gear Smartwatch, you’re going to love the following video demo of the Samsung Galaxy Gear.

When it comes to mobile health, the built in pedometer is the obvious one. However, don’t underestimate the power of messages coming to you right on the wrist. Not to mention the S Voice (Siri like functionality) that’s built into the smartwatch.

Heart Rhythm Biometric Wristband

Posted on September 6, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

It seems that lately I’ve been more and more intrigued with what I’ve been calling the “battle for the wrist.” The battle got real earlier this week with Qualcomm and Samsung both announcing their Smartwatch technologies. I’m sure this is just the start of the smartwatch movement.

Today on EMR and HIPAA, I wrote about what I called a Biometrically Controlled Healthcare System. It’s a forward thinking post that considers how our biometric identity could be integrated into our healthcare experience. I’m sure this idea will scare many people, but I find it incredibly exciting.

In response to that post, I got a tweet from @XimenaTrade suggesting that heart rhythm could be the basis of someone’s biometric identity. Then, she linked me to another wrist based product by Nymi. While not a healthcare specific device, it does make for an interesting extension to the discussions around the battle for the wrist and biometrics. Here’s a video which demos the Nymi heart rhythm product:

I’m not sure I’d buy the story that this is a very good stand alone device. It seems like putting this on is just about as difficult as carrying a key. Although, the built in accelerometer and gyroscope do offer some interesting gesture options. I just don’t see this as a standalone device. Instead, I think one of the smartwatch vendors is likely to snatch up this technology (or recreate it themselves) and integrate it into a much more powerful device.

The idea of a biometric smartwatch that acts as your passwordless key is really interesting. Reminds me of a local Vegas Tech company called LaunchKey which is trying to Kill Passwords opting instead for authentication via your smartphone or tablet.

All of this helps me realize that we’re just at the beginning of smartwatches and biometrics.

Smart Watch Announcements – Qualcomm’s Toq and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear

Posted on September 4, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

We posted about the rumored iWatch from Apple a while back, but today Apple was beat to the punch with both Qualcomm and Samsung announcing smart watches today. The smart watch movement could mean a lot for mobile health.

Qualcomm’s smart watch offering is called the Toq and isn’t planned to go on sell until the middle of next month. Plus, Qualcomm calls it a technology demonstration instead of a commercial endeavor. That means they’re looking to partners to carry this torch. Qualcomm isn’t turning into a consumer electronics company. Here’s AllThingsD’s description of the smart watch:

It features several different watch faces, including one that matches the time with upcoming calendar appointments, and another that displays both time and weather information. The Toq can also control the phone’s music player, as well as display text messages and send one of several preset replies. Clearly designed as a companion to a smartphone, the watch settings are controlled from an app that runs on an Android smartphone.

Watch owners can also get other types of Android notifications that would normally flash on their phone screen. Users can decide which apps’ notifications are shown on the watch. Qualcomm will also make available a developer tool kit that will let interested companies create their own “applets” for the watch.

At the same time, the combination of the Mirasol display and other power-saving features means that the device can be always-on (there’s no on-off switch) and still get several days of use between charges.

I think this is best described as a second screen for your smart phone. Although, it’s a second screen that’s always on thanks to the Qualcomm Mirasol display technology.

The Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch will launch on Sept 25 in more than 140 countries and available worldwide in October. Here’s AllThingsD’s description of the device:

Designed to be a smartphone companion, the Android-based wearable features a stainless steel frame with a 1.63-inch, 320 by 320 pixel touchscreen and rubber straps that come in six different colors, including orange, yellow and white.

For now it appears that the Galaxy Gear is designed to work only with the Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition tablet, which were also announced. Once connected via Bluetooth, the watch can alert you to incoming texts and emails. A feature called “Smart Relay” also mirrors what you’re seeing on your smartphone to the watch.

With a built-in mic, you can make and receive phone calls and draft messages, create calendar appointments and more using Samsung’s S Voice command system. The watch’s strap also has an integrated 1.9-megapixel camera. But before you get excited about living out your dream as a spy, the camera makes a shutter noise that can’t be disabled.

That’s a huge problem that the Galaxy Gear only works with the latest Galaxy Note products. I imagine this will change once Samsung is able to push out an update to the Samsung S3 and S4’s. If they can’t do that, then this device is really going to suffer. The battery life on the device is estimated at 25 hours and will launch with more than 70 compatible apps including the RunKeeper app.

The most exciting part of both of these announcements is that we’re just getting started with the Smart Watch technology. I’m not sure how this is going to evolve, but I love the always on feature of a smart watch. I also love the idea of it being a second screen. Plus, with an accelerometer on the watch and likely more bio sensors to come, there’s a great opportunity for mobile health apps.