A day at the fair of the future: my reportage from the WTT Wearable Tech Tourin

A day at the fair of the future: my reportage from the WTT Wearable Tech Tourin

I just visited the WTT Wearables Tech Tourin and I’m happy to share my thoughts with you. It’s quite easy to describe positive feelings when you find under the same roof startups, futurist technologies and excellent speakers. Because wearables are the fil rouge to talk also about other intriguing solutions like virtual reality, 3D printing, drones, social platforms and much more. I dedicate later in this post space to the ideas that excited me, but let me first start with some learnings. They are a mix of stimuli coming from the people I met and the workshops I attended, namely Matteo Mazzeri about the consequences of using wearables, Umberto Macchi and Diego Orzalesi about wearables and social media. There’s never time to speak with everybody, see everything and attend all conferences, so I beg your pardon for anything important I have missed, feel free to correct me in the comments section.

Innovation is not and will never be a “stand-alone” piece of hardware or software anymore. Every tangible unit of technology will be part of a larger ecosystem. And we don’t have to be innocent and naïve to think this is just about connected devices and the Internet of Things. Humans are part of this interconnection and the virtual reality already affects the real reality every single day. Facebook is the first cause of divorce in the US and it’s basically the third biggest nation after China and India. The potential lack of security and privacy behind some IoT is not virtual at all, because from hacking the password of your Wi-fi to your credit card details there are less than six degrees of separation. Because if half of the Italian population is shifting from time spent shopping in the streets in front of the windows to time spent in Facebook, it’s clear that social networks will be the communities of the future. If Google and Zuckemberg are deploying drones and satellites to bring the internet everywhere, it’s because their market is done by “only” 1,5 bn people out of a population of 7 bn today. Because if companies don’t learn to interact with consumers that produce a stream of continuous (not discrete) data from their wearables, which are only the natural evolution of smartphones, their destiny is to disappear. These kind of things apparently happen in the virtual world, but their consequences are pretty real. And it’s real the fact that the only way to make it happen it’s not the genius of an isolated single person, but the collaborative efforts of scientists, startups, geeks and enthusiast people around the world.

A day at the fair of the future: my reportage from the WTT Wearable Tech TourinThe same passion I perceived when I met innovators with their products and services. The Wearable Tech Tourin is the place which tried to give form and life to all of this. As the main topic was wearables, it’s not a surprise if the first stand I visited is Dreamlux. They embed optical fiber and led technology into textiles, giving a new life to objects like a shirt, a tablecloth or a curtain. All pieces have a tiny battery or a direct connection to the plug to provide energy. Their patent is registered in more than 40 countries and if today it’s about light, I expect tomorrow we will be able to enrich our textiles with more sensors, atomic computers and other amazing stuff. But you know, Italy is the country of fashion, so we started from here. They used a darkened room to emphasize the effect, so I apologize if my picture is not perfect, but the fact that the atmosphere is pretty unique comes out easily.

 

A day at the fair of the future: my reportage from the WTT Wearable Tech TourinAnother wearables that touches the chords is Get. It’s a wristband using a bone-conduction technology that allows you to program any gesture for any scope basically. For example I turned my wrist 180 degrees and it answered a phone call; I then just put my finger on my ear and started a conversation thanks to the microphone embedded in the fabric. You’re free to program it to read you a text or a webpage, send a tweet, turn down the lights, receive personalized notifications and every other action that makes sense to you in a hand free world. It’s a controller, de facto, and as a proper wearable will be your second screen for agenda, phonecall and many other applications without even having a screen. They are in crowdfounding on eppela, definitely worth a visit. And a donation in my opinion.

 

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A day at the fair of the future: my reportage from the WTT Wearable Tech TourinI then moved to a wearable project named SatisFactory which is currently under development at the ISMB, Istituto Superiore Mario Boella. In light of of the European Research and Innovation Framework Program Horizon 2020, SatisFactory is about the Factory of the Future. The idea is simple, if a worker can wear on his or helmet a device (the prototype is in the pictures) that can track his position and his motion, both his safety and healthcare control will be improved. Today the dimension, the cost and the battery are not optimized yet to make it applicable in a real environment, but that’s why a research institute is working seriously on the topic. Well done!

Then I moved to a company called Studio Fabbioni. They realize amazing projects that let you visit environments that not exist yet and take immersive digital tours. Whether you want to enjoy it on a website or via a Google cardboard or VR headset, the result is near to reality. A QR code or an enabled NFC smartphone let you access the project from any paper printed catalogue or flyer. I know this has been already discussed as the future of real estate, but as I live in the country (Italy) with the largest historical heritage in the world, I just let my imagination wander free. I didn’t take any picture here because I think the gallery page on their website is well done enough to understand what they can do for you.

A day at the fair of the future: my reportage from the WTT Wearable Tech TourinHeadapp was another amazing exhibitor which basically augmented your sight for everything related to flight. The idea behind their product Eye4Flight is provide real time flight information just in front of the pilot’s eyes, thanks to special glasses, so he doesn’t have to glance down at the cockpit display. If you apply this technology to a drone and its camera, it’s just like being in the air with it, with improved safety and control. For a guy like me playing Flight Simulator since the Commodore64 and Amiga were on the market, that’s a fascinating piece of technology. I’ve written in my post about future office wearables that gesture and free hands technologies will have potentially a great future.

A day at the fair of the future: my reportage from the WTT Wearable Tech TourinI’ve seen many other good projects and ideas, Immotion AR and Mondotredi among the others, which I invite you to visit on their websites, but most of all I’ve appreciated the clean faces of students and entrepreneurs who are building their future and those of their country participating at events like the WTT. Macchi said that a digital tsunami is coming and the people equipped to best manage it are the generation who spent time on games and gamification, social networks and other technologies that our fathers believe are just a waste of time. I’m in the middle between Macchi and his followers’ age, but as long as there’s curiosity and critical sensibility in all of us, where’s all part of a bigger family!

 

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