Wearable tech is the future, but if it’s not cool I don’t care [MEF]

All right, mobile is really big right now and it is going to revolutionise everything. Wait, that was five years ago. Welcome to the world of mobile plus data, plus built-in algorithms — yes I am talking about wearable tech and everything else that tracks what you are doing.

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When you are in Silicon Valley it’s hard to go a day without hearing about Google Glass or some other insane thing Google is up to. Speaking at MEF Global Forum a panel of investors and technologists theorised about the trends coming out of the valley that will lead the tech charge and Glass came up.

Four things we can look forward to in tech: mobile, wearable tech, data and more crowdfunding.

Mobile is big right now… Africa did that already people, what else?

“Mobile is an interface into an increasingly virtual life that we currently have,” says Ikhlaq Sidhu, Founding Director, Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology, UC Berkeley.

Okay, that’s interesting.

The way Sidhu sees it, mobile is the interface that helps us experience the world of applications that we have to help organise and manage our lives. This, he reckons, was lead by the need to communicate and the next thing will address our need to interact.

In the next wave of tech development, interactions seems to be key.

Wearable tech: The age of cool and seamless interaction

“Technology should interact with the devices we have now,” says Cynthia Maxey, Business Development Director at Bee Partners.

She reckons that awareness is important and that technologies need to be device and user aware.

As far as trends go, Saad Khan, Partner at CMEA Capital, thinks it’s all about sci fi. “The internet is pretty invented because someone wrote about it in science fiction,” he says.

He reckons that next wave of technology will be around the internet of cool rather than the internet of function. “An explosion of form factors is coming. Wearable tech isn’t about the tech, it’s fashion. We want technology because it is cool,” he says.

Let’s face it, until Warby Parker is responsible for designing Google Glass, no one will buy it, says Angel Investor Yee Lee.

Still, the idea that your device can track and manage what you do without you telling it to seems to be an important step in the age of seamless internet.

So wearable tech is the future — quick, everyone go invent something techie I can wear.

Wearable tech raises an important point: data generation. There is very little being done with the data that is currently being generated by people’s daily doings on their various wearable devices.

Khan thinks we should start an open source movement around data, give professionals access to our personal data, and let them give you feedback around it. Because let’s face it he says: “people don’t know what their data is worth”.

Crowdfunding is good but you gotta scale

Crowdfunding and crowdsourcing is the future of investment, it’s called Kickstarter.

“We are seeing vertical variations of Kickstarter,” says Sidu. “The hypothesis was that people could get funded earlier — it is cheaper than ever to start something but it is harder than ever to scale”.

The idea of crowdfunding is a “little like bootstrapping,” says Maxey, because it gives you something to humble brag about to an investor.

Though this time of funding has eliminated early stage funding issues, scaling is still problematic right now, agrees the panel. Startups still need to get consumers to buy into their products quickly, before they can think of going to traditional investors to scale the product.

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