Editor’s note: In this new column, we will watch and report on who is making major moves and/or waves in the wearables industry. Check back at the beginning of each month to see the individuals who are directly impacting and shaping our collective future. From the hands weaving the best looking “smart jeans” you’ve ever seen to the masterminds measuring the extent of damage to professional athletes’ brains, below are the 5 people to watch in June.
Ivan Poupyrev, Technical Program Lead at Google ATAP + Founder of Project Jacquard
In founding Google’s brilliant new endeavor Project Jacquard, Poupyrev has created the first gesture-interactive wearable technology. The conductive Jacquard thread can be woven into any cloth and can be used in any existing loom, giving it enormous versatility. The coolest part about it though is that when coupled with a small Bluetooth device, any article of clothing can be paired with any device to operate like a touch screen. Cooler still is the announcement of a partnership with Levi Strauss, with products set to roll out next year.
Jesse Harper, CEO of Biometrics
i1 Biometrics first sprung onto the wearables circuit last fall when the company partnered with LSU in a program that equipped football players with the Vector mouthguard (pictured in featured image). Armed with a microchip, accelerometer, gyroscope, battery, and antenna, the device sent real-time data to the athletes’ trainers regarding the location and severity of impact to their players’ heads. At the beginning of June, i1 Biometrics acquired Shockbox, a helmet based technology that sends immediate smartphone alerts in the event of a dangerous head impact. We are interested to see how this revolutionary technology will integrate with professional sports, as well as mainstream consumers and athletes.
Denise Gershbein, Executive Creative Director at design firm frog
Frog design is far from unknown in the realm of industrial design, software, and brand management, so it should come as no surprise that the global company is venturing into the developing world of wearables. What is so special about this foray into the industry, however, is that it comes as a partnership with UNICEF by the name of Wearables for Good — a competition for a wearable (and simple!) device that somehow greatly improves the lives of people in developing countries. “We really should be looking beyond the walls of the Valley out to other use cases, whether it’s across the U.S. or across the world,” says Gershbein told Fast Company. “I think we also should be getting designers, researchers, anthropologists, and social impact folks all together to share use cases.” We’re with you, Denise. It’s a breath of fresh air to see a kingpin company embarking on a philanthropic pursuit.
Fritz Lanman, Executive Chairman at Doppler Labs
Lanman has created a pair of “hearbuds” by the name of Here. Sounding like something straight out of a science-fiction film, the buds house volume control and EQ functions that are controlled by a companion app on the iPhone. You can selectively mute sounds (like the crying of a baby), add effects, and effectively customize your acoustic world to your exact liking. Although at this stage the primary purpose of the buds lies in their live-music enhancement capabilities, Lanman has big plans in the works for Here. “And yes,” he told Wired, “they’ll eventually do things like voice control and Star Trek-like translation and who knows what else.”
James Park, CEO of Fitbit
All eyes are on James Park as Fitbit updated its IPO filing on Tuesday, valuing the company at approximately $3.3 billion. While Fitbit is clearly thriving, (device sales topped $10 million in 2014) the threat of competition inevitably looms overhead. Park is remarkably young for his position at 38-years-old, which could be a pitfall or an advantage, depending on how the near future plays out.