There is nothing more personal in this Internet of Things sector than sensors that monitor you. I got a glimpse into that reality at the Wearable Technologies Conference.
This was a very small event and was sold out. I get the feeling it's got legs for the next few years.
The event kicked off with a nice overview of wearable technologies by Harry Strasser. He pointed out that the mobile revolution has now enabled the wearable revolution because of the connectivity options and advances in sensor technology.
Last week I blogged about the prediction that there will be a trillion connected sensors deployed by 2023. That forecast drew some skepticism, but listening to the speakers today I think it's even more likely than I first thought.
A trillion sensors is roughly 250 sensors per person. That's not farfetched. If you have a Samsung Galaxy S4 then you have eight connected sensors already. If you have a Nest thermostat then there's a few more; and if you have a 2013 model car you have 30 or 40 more.
This is the tip of the iceberg. There are going to be implanted sensors to help with drug delivery, monitor blood sugar, and track your heart rate. You will be sticking, strapping, and clipping sensors to your body with watches, sun exposure gauges, smart shirts (Maxim already demoed one), hearing aids... and don't forget Google Glass.
We may soon wear location trackers, health monitors, safety and security monitors, and maybe someday we'll own self-driving cars. If this can come about in 10 years, the 250 sensors per person theory holds water.
A sensor being launched this week reinforces the point. Icedot is a wearable crash sensor for bicyclists, runners, boarders, and other athletes that uses your phone to send your GPS coordinates and an emergency signal if you crash badly. It's a simple but powerful idea and, if it's well executed, could save some lives. It's a wearable sensor you can buy today.
The Icedot is a wearable sensor you can buy today.
Icedot was no Kickstarter project. It's something inventors took to Flextronics to get made. John Dwyer of Flextronics showed how they are now working much higher up the design chain to help innovative but high-volume electronics come to market faster and use the power of a global supply chain. The folks at Icedot worked with Flextronics in one of its Product Innovation Centers where it has human interface and physical design experts, which was all news to me.
BTW, I love Kickstarter and my Kickstarter edition Pebble watch that I waited 15 months for. I wrote last year about my mind-blowing trip to Shenzhen where I saw some Kickstarter alumni trying desperately to get their products made without getting ripped off.
I think it's clear that many more connected sensors are coming to a wrist, ear, belt, and helmet near you, and those products are going to be available at high volumes ever more quickly, thanks to global supply chain experts like Flextronics. I think the trillion sensors prediction is getting closer every day.