The IDTechEx Show! in Santa Clara assembled the largest collection of innovators and experts around wearable technology. The aim was to share knowledge, build networks and solve problems that the industry faces. With decision makers from the most well-known and prestigious wearable technology projects all present, the stage was set for two productive days of networking, problem solving and discussion. This article covers some of the main themes of the event.
Cornerstone talks from the influencers
With the nature of the co-located event, the cornerstone sessions pulled all of the audiences together to hear from some key players. IDTechEx CEO Raghu Das introduced the conference, and outlined the top ten trends in emerging technology and the event. This was followed by an outstanding presentation from Mounir Zok, Senior Sports Technologist at the United States Olympic Committee. He outlined the role of technology in elite sport, showing how far it has come (since engineers would run alongside athletes with a laptop collecting data, just 10 years ago!) and how the rates of advancement have accelerated.
Mounir Zok from the USOC during his cornerstone presentation
Keynotes from key players
Following the cornerstone sessions, the exhibition theatre opened allowing 3000 registered guests to see the exciting updates and products shown by 220 exhibitors. Following this, the IDTechEx Wearable conference started, with keynotes from some key influencers. Firstly, IDTechEx showed their brand new market data on the wearable technology market, finding that the total market size will reach over $110bn by 2026. This was followed by one of the most interesting, forward-looking presentations at the conference, given by Pae Wu from DARPA.
Pae Wu from DARPA presents their latest work
Amongst many fascinating ideas, one that stood out was their work to use implantable electrodes wrapped around the vagus nerve to detect the earliest neurological signs that the body is moving away from a healthy state. This information could then be paired with state-of-the-art treatments to prevent disease before we even notice we get ill. The talk provided an excellent image of a future healthcare system enabled by state of the art wearable (or implantable) technology.
Smart Clothing: the centre of attention
losing the keynote session, and continuing throughout the course of the two days, smart clothing was at the forefront of much of the discussion. This was no coincidence: the IDTechEx event focuses on key technology development, advances and unmet needs. As markets around components-in-a-box wearables like smartwatches and fitness trackers mature, much of the hardware innovation focus has moved into other areas such as e-textiles, smart eyewear, energy harvesting, flexible electronics and more. The IDTechEx event brings wearable technology innovators together with key players from each of these spaces to create the perfect environment for innovation and networking.
At the conference, we heard from speakers throughout many areas of industry, including high fashion, retail fashion, sports apparel and military textiles, and also from key players in the value chain such as materials companies, connector manufacturers, engineers, e-textile and cabling companies and integrators. Many of the largest companies in the space were in the room, and they were there to hear about smart clothing!
The following photos show examples from the conference and exhibition, with examples of smart clothing development from throughout the value chain.
Sensoria show their smart sock, shirt and bra products on the exhibition floor
Hitachi chemical show their progress in wearable electronics at their booth, including flexible electronics integrated into clothing, skin patch development and microdisplays for smart eyewear
Bebop sensors were Gold Sponsors of the event, showing their textile based sensing systems enabled by printed electronics
>Claire Ortiz presented on the challenges of meeting the needs in the apparel industry, and displayed work from Ortiz Industry in the exhibition<
Tony Chanine from AIA spoke about their active manufacturing sites already making state of the art smart clothing, which they showed in the exhibition
Enabling the entire value chain
Another striking aspect of the show was the presence of players from throughout the value chain; both established players that are developing new products for wearable technology markets, and new player bringing disruptive ideas and products. The value chain built from the bottom up, from materials suppliers (e.g. ink, polymer, metals, graphene and more!), into components like sensors, batteries, chips, antennae and all of the manufacturing techniques for building them. This then scaled through to completed wearable technology products, with huge diversity (ranging from activity tracking to smart eyewear to smart clothing and more!).
Some selected examples of these companies and products are shown in the images below:
UICO show their rugged touch technologies, working even in the presence of water and dirt
Hesvit showed their activity tracker products in the exhibition
XMetrics showed how they have used intelligent design and algorithms to develop activity tracking for swimmers
Source all images: IDTechEx photographs