Earlier this year, Cambridge based wearable computing startup MC10 and Reebook unveiled the Checklight, a sports oriented protect aimed at protecting athletes from various sports such as American Football, Ice Hockey, Rugby, or other physical sports. In my opinion, this type of product has a lot of potential in sports such as the NFL as concussions has become a serious problem in this sports:
During the 2012-2013 NFL season, the league saw more than 160 players going down with a head injury. It is also worth pointing out that the league recently donated $30 million to the National institutes of Health (NIH) for brain injury research.
The problem with the Checklight, which can now available for $150, is that it is not a concussion detector, per se, but it would provide valuable information to the staff during practices or actual games in order to identify athletes in danger.
Here is a quick video presenting the Checklight:
Bottom line: Wearable computing devices can be used in many different areas, such as retail, constructions, insurance, etc..But sports is probably one of the most promising sector for wearable computing as sensors are already gaining in popularity in many sports. These sensors can be leverage in so many ways in order to create wearable computing devices like the Checklight. I expect MC10 and other similar companies like Adidas, Nike and others to take advantage of this opportunity.
Nicole Tricoukes, senior maverick for Motorola Solutions’ CTO’s office, answered our questions on the HC1, Motorola’s connected glasses, which target the enterprise space. Ms. Tricoukes also talked about some success stories, some of the biggest challenges faced by connected glasses vendors, and what what we should expect from Motorola Solutions in the future. Here is the full transcript of the interview:
Gizworld: How did Motorola get the idea of building the HC1? How long ago was that?
NT: Motorola Solutions was among the early leaders in wearable mobile computing for the enterprise with innovations such as mobile devices that could be worn on the wrist and fingers. Today, Motorola continues to advance wearable computing with the SB1 smart badge and the new HC1 headset computer. With the HC1, Motorola is leading the way with a new kind of practical and usable form of wearable computing for business and government organizations while redefining how work gets done in the field.
The concept for the HC1 started with the idea to redefine hands-free mobility and change how people interact with their mobile computers – creating a new category of device to solve industry-specific problems. To turn the concept into an actionable solution and revenue-generating opportunity required an innovative framework that combined outside expertise and technology resources to help champion it through our development process. Through a joint collaboration with Kopin Corporation, we transformed the idea into a hands-free mobile computing solution geared toward the mobile field workforce across worldwide enterprise and government organizations.
Gizworld: Consumer vs. enterprise oriented connected glasses: There are a myriad of consumer focused connected glasses (e.g. Google Glasses, Recon Instruments, Vuzix, Lumus, Vergence Labs, etc.) out there, and fewer enterprise oriented connected glasses like the HC1.I personally believe that there is a higher potential for the enterprise oriented connected glasses as those devices address specific issues faced in select verticals. Do you agree?
NT: The HC1 is a purpose-built device that helps solve business-critical needs in the enterprise. Designed for field services and the defense, utilities, telecommunications, aerospace and aviation markets, the HC1 headset computer can be used for maintenance, repair, operations/overhaul (MRO) and training and simulation applications that improve inspection time and accuracy, reduce labor rates and increase safety. People across many different industries need the use of their hands to fix machines, help civilians and heal patients. Users of the HC1 could include field technicians responsible for the maintenance and repair of complex machines and vehicles; construction managers and architects who could access schematics, building plans and maps, and military defense forces and special public safety teams who could practice simulated events and crisis scenarios and also perform live training with real-time trainer feedback.
Gizworld: In your opinion, what makes the HC1 unique connected glasses?
NT: The HC1 headset computer provides a user experience with a view equivalent to that of a 15-inch laptop-size screen. The HC1 is a wireless, hands-free wearable mobile computer that uses simple voice commands and head gesture controls to access data, video and voice and is geared towards field technicians using it for real-world business applications in tough environments – whether they’re in a tight space, in a remote location or working high above the ground. The modular HC1 camera provides a wireless, interactive link to remote experts, thus enabling practical augmented reality applications allowing users to dynamically see information in context while performing tasks.
The HC1 headset computer is uniquely powerful on its own, or when connected to a wider network. Designed as a rugged mobile computer, complex drawings, schematics, blueprints, and training videos can all be viewed on the HC1 without the need for a paired device. With onboard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, other devices can pair to the HC1 when connecting to a wider network, facilitating the push and pull of data between the headset computer and remote networks.
Gizworld: API: In my opinion, it will be critical for connected glasses vendors to build a strong and profitable app services ecosystem by opening up their API to third party developers, and help those developers better monetize their apps. What is Motorola doing to build a strong app ecosystem for the HC1?
NT: The HC1 is an enterprise, wearable mobile computing solution that is commercially available though our PartnerEmpower worldwide channel partner program. Motorola Solutions’ application partners are already developing meaningful HC1 solutions – connecting mobile workers to remote experts – allowing experts to see what those in the field see and respond immediately without interrupting workflow. Other partners are developing inspection, task verification and training applications for the HC1.
Gizworld: Success stories: Could you give us examples or cases studies of how the HC1 has helped your clients improve their business (e.g. productivity, ROI.) on a daily basis?
NT: Dr. Andrew G. Cook, senior vice president of Operational Excellence and Innovation at AREVA Inc., said, “In the highly demanding and regulated nuclear energy industry, innovation is essential in meeting ever-increasing standards for safety and operational performance for our utility customers. With Intelligent Product Solutions’ Entervise™ Remote Expert application running on Motorola’s HC1 headset computer, we can perform independent quality oversight at nuclear power plants without requiring a second person to enter restricted areas. With the HC1’s added camera functionality, our on-site technicians can enlist the support of our experts at the home office in real time to see exactly what is seen in the field and help them resolve conditions quickly and safely. We expect that the HC1 will provide us with measurable gains in productivity and efficiencies that will reduce radiation dose and operating costs.”
Gizworld: Does Motorola plan to add an AI middleware similar to Google Now allowing enterprise users to ask questions in real-time, and that would make the experience more context aware and interactive?
NT: The HC1 offers a new software experience driven primarily by voice input and augmented by head gestures. Motorola partners can leverage these technologies to provide end users with applications that help mobile workers improve their focus on the task at hand.
Fully programmable and customizable, the HC1 includes built-in software for basic command and control. The HC1 enables applications using natural language voice recognition and simple head gesturing. The HC1’s unique API and feature sets required for hands-free mobile computing are built into the operating system and are always running as system level services that are available as shared resources to all applications running on the HC1.
Gizworld: Language support: Today the HC1 supports 6 languages. Do you plan to add new languages by year-end 2013?
NT: Currently, we have no plans to add additional languages to the HC1 by the end of the year. We work closely with our enterprise and government customers and rely on their feedback when determining their needs and updates to our existing portfolio of products.
Gizworld: Biggest challenges: What are the biggest challenges faced my connected vendors today? Health issues? Battery life? How does Motorola tackle those issues?
NT: Motorola Solutions delivers new design innovations like the HC1 from deep customer insights and from our heritage of deploying advanced and reliable technologies within enterprise and government environments.
The HC1 was specifically designed for industrial and enterprise markets from its rugged design to removable battery and multiple configuration options, multi-slot charging cradle, removable soft-goods for worker personalization and sanitation, and ability to support a full worker shift in harsh environments.
The HC1 uses leading-edge micro-display technology to provide mobile field workers with an adjustable and crystal-clear display appearance resembling a laptop computer to support “big screen” applications. By using a display positioned below the line of sight, the HC1 is designed to complement safety gear, allowing workers to see their surrounding environment at all times while focusing on a task at hand. The HC1 is operational outdoors in direct sunlight, and uses a screen to display information, and is not a see-through technology. The HC1 is capable of presenting complex information without obstructing or confusing a worker’s view from reality. Users can easily and naturally glance down at the information presented when needed and return back to work. For example, graphics augmented and shared by a remote expert onto video or images captured by the HC1 camera can be presented to a field service technician using the micro-display for easy reference, without interrupting, confusing or distracting workflow.
The HC1 differs from other wearable technologies in its operation and integration with enterprise software, hardware, network and servers. It is interoperable with existing enterprise infrastructure and can use its onboard Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to connect wirelessly when necessary to other devices or networks. The HC1’s firmgood assembly and customizable softpads allow it to rest off the head for function, comfort and safety.
Gizworld: What should we expect to see from Motorola moving forward in the connected glasses space? HC1 with different sizes and price points? HC1 with more capabilities and apps?
NT: Motorola Solutions envisions future experiences to deliver what’s next. Like the HC1, we look to find solutions for problems that people don’t yet know they have, and to solve them with technology solutions that they didn’t think possible.
Crucial factors are at play that will radically transform the face of today’s government and enterprise workforces including:
1) The criticality to coordinate mission-critical and business-critical communications within and across organizations
2) A flood of information available to individuals for better decision making; and
3) The need to do more – better, faster and smarter.
We’re innovating for the next generation of public safety and enterprises – working with customers to develop meaningful solutions that elevate the user experience and help them be the best at what they do. Our deep commitment to research and development positions us at the leading edge of technology inflections and guides the future innovations – like the HC1 – that will once again transform the industries we serve.
Here is a video demo of the Motorola HC1:
If you want to learn more about the Motorola HC1, you can click on the following link here.
Nadeem Kassam, who is the founder ofBasis, a leading wrist-based health tracker vendor, and BioBeats, an innovative startup merging entertainment and healthcare, backed by Hollywood actor Will Smith, Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun, to name a few, answered our questions on the Basis watch, the vision of the company. Mr Kassam also talked about some success stories, some of the biggest challenges faced by smart watch vendors, and what what we should expect from Basis or the wearable computing industry in the future. Here is the full transcript of the interview:
Gizworld: How did Basis get the idea of building the Basis Watch? How long ago was that?
NK: I came up with the Idea in mid 2004, and worked very hard for 3 years to come up with the first prototype. It wasn’t until 2010 that I came to the Silicon Valley to seek funding and a team that could pull off my dream. The idea came from the notion that getting healthy was boring and adding passive monitoring and gamification would change the game. I have been talking about merging health and entertainment for the last 10 years. I am so happy that the time is finally here for smart, wearable wellness technology to make an impact on the health of millions of people
Gizworld: In your opinion, what makes the Basis watch a unique health monitor?
NK: I made the decision back in 2005 that only having an accelerometer was just not enough. We had hacked the first Omron Pedometer that contained a USB port to connect to a Facebook App that we built that tracked your steps. I found that people got excited but lost emotional attachment with step count quickly, I felt there was just not enough useful data. I have always been fascinated with heart beats as they relate to exercise, stress reduction, music, and the study ran deep within chinese medicine and most recently with all kinds of studies from Harvard Medical School and other prestigious western institutions. I quickly got hyper focused on the information that was contained within the rhythm of our hearts and so we focused heavily on optical sensor technology. Now the Basis Band contains multiple sensors to give a more complete picture of your lifestyle and wellness.
Gizworld: API: In my opinion, it will be critical for wearable computing vendors to build a strong and profitable app services ecosystem by opening up their API to third party developers, and help those developers better monetize their apps. What is MyBasis doing to build a strong app ecosystem for the Basis watch?
NK: We agree completely that there will need to be multiple experiences, but we also believe in a strategic roll out. Timing is everything and Basis is well underway with our plans to build cool, meaningful applications for a whole range of people. Third party app developers are critical for this ecosystem as adoption increases.
Gizworld: Competition from major OEMs: Many OEMs are rumored to be working on smart watches scheduled to coming in the coming months. Do you see this as a potential threat or something positive that will help raise better awareness for products like the Basis watch?
NK: I see this as building the ecosystem and the more action in this space the better. Bring on the consumer wellness device revolution!
Gizworld: Future roadmap: What new features should we expect to see on the next version of the Basis Watch moving forward? Will you adopt an approach similar to the Amiigo bracelet where your device will be able to track various activities (e.g. running, swimming, push-ups, etc.), learn and analyze the user’s activity, compare such data with other users or even professional althletes, and provide personal workouts based on smart algorithms?
NK: Basis already has many more sensors than any other device on the market. It passively reveals more about your lifestyle than any other device on the market. It looks cool and is customizable and fashionable. And it only gets better from here.
Gizworld: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and gamification: The Basis watch already has a gamification system, but should expect to see a Basis Watch using an AI solution like Google Now, combined with a loyalty reward program? For instance, the Basis watch would say, “You only burned 200 calories today, you need to burn another 300 calories in order to achieve your goal and earn 1000 loyalty reward points”.
NK: The device and online experience are only getting smarter, Basis users are already seeing firmware upgrades that are enhancing the experience continuously.
Gizworld: Success stories: Could you give us examples of Basis watch users who have been able to improve their health and achieve great goals?
NK:The success stories are now pouring in and it is deeply satisfying to see our product making such an impact on peoples lives. Lots of people are becoming aware of their lifestyles in ways they could never be before. The Basis online Habits Game is very cool and getting even better. One of my favorites is a couple who had to write to us as they where both doing sleep Habits, and where on their 3rd Friday in a row and both were trying to get to sleep before the other to outperform their partner. We will publish cool stories from our users on our blog soon.
Gizworld: Biggest challenges: What are the biggest challenges faced by a device startup like Basis today? Supply chain issues? Cost intensive business? Healthcare regulation?
NK: Hardware is extremely capital intensive. It always takes so much longer and costs so much more than you expect. Supply chain is always an exciting dance and cannot be underestimated in its complexity.
Gizworld: 5 years from now, how do you see the wearable computing space evolving?
NK: Awesome! one of my favorite topics. In 5 years when our biometric information is flowing freely we will see all kinds of very cool applications for these data sets. From our cars understanding the extent of our road rage and intervening automatically to our household appliances understanding our stress levels and reacting accordingly. Devices will become much more fashionable or blend in seamlessly and be completely unnoticed. Please check out the startup I recently founded called BioBeats.com
Gizworld: There are lots of device startups in the wearable computing space today, but do you think that the big winner will be the company capable of building a platform capable of being used across various platform (e.g. connected watch, connected glasses, connected cars, etc..) so that users can monitor their health across various platforms?
NK: Yes, the more convenient, accessible and cool the better. But I do not think there will be only one winner. This is a massive industry that we are just at the beginning of. There will be best-in-breed in a number of categories i.e. if you want to do this for kids there will need to be a platform appropriate for them. They key is to blend this cool, useful tech into our lives and delight along the way.