Import.io was once again super excited to host another Big Data Debate. We managed to secure a bigger venue this time (Central Foundation Boys School), which meant we had space for even more data lovers. And good thing too, because this event was packed! Which may have had a little something to do with that night’s subject: wearables.
The Kickoff Presentation
Ali, the co-founder of Blocks, gave a fascinating talk about the thinking behind their company. Blocks was inspired by everyone’s favourite childhood toy: Lego. If you could put blocks together to create new and exciting toys, the founders of Blocks thought: Why can’t we do this with wearables?
When you’re looking to get a smartwatch how do you choose which one to buy? Probably based on the one that has the most features you want. But – if you’re the Blocks guys at least – no one watch seems to have exactly what you need. What if you can treat those features like legos and mix them together to make the perfect smartwatch for you. And that’s exactly what they’ve done. Blocks created a smart watch that is modular, where you can choose which features are most useful to you. All you do is snap together the different blocks and create your own smartwatch!
The watch is still in prototype, but Blocks is still one of the most exciting wearables companies around!
Once the presentation had finished, our panelists took to the stage to debate the big question in wearables: Will the future be a dream or a nightmare?
Here are the players
Moderator – Will Francis, Co-founder of Harkable
Panelist – David White, CEO & Co-Founder of import.io
Panelist – Sanford Dickert, Director at Rawlings Atlantic
Panelist – Alireza Tahmasebzadeh, Co-Founder of Blocks
Will Francis, Co-founder of Harkable
What are wearables? Are they just phones with straps?
“It’s the ability to have it on us and not even know its there.” – Stanford
“Wearables offer us an insight that we couldn’t previously have because the technology didn’t allow it. It’s about having a device that can take in information and interact with our world without needing as much input from us” – Ali
How do we make wearables more mainstream?
“The only thing that will take this technology main stream is insurance. If your company could guarantee lower premiums if you wear the device, then a lot more people would wear it.” – David
“It’s one step to making a better interface between humans and the technology. With wearables it can become more automatic. In general technology has made us lazy. Wearables have the ability to reverse that change. The large majority of early adopters are self optimizers. They got into it for health reasons. That’s what will probably drive the industry forward.” – Ali
Can a watch replace the phone?
“Probably not. You’ll still need to have the personal computing hub that will be able to do the hard core processing.” – David
Is privacy a problem in wearables?
“Wearables don’t sit in any different of an area in regards to privacy, than any other part of data. The real question is going to be is this exchange of data a valuable transaction. It needs to become more visible what exactly that transaction is; what data are they taking and why.” – David
Sanford Dickert, Director at Rawlings Atlantic
“We’ve already given up a lot of privacy. You’re not going to get it back just yet. The problem with legislating is that there is so many types of data and a lot of it is about the context in which that data is collected which makes it hard to say you can collect this piece of data, but not this one.” – Sanford
The real problem, Sanford went on to say, is that for the most part people don’t care. If you think about paying for email – would you if it meant you didn’t have to give up your browsing history? Probably not. Certainly not enough people would to make it a viable business model.
Is there a problem with the high turnover rate for smart devices?
“The technology does become obsolete very quickly which is partly why the modular idea is going to catch on. It’s important to be able to modify these things to keep them relevant.” – Ali
“There are two types of tech consumers – people who want the new shiny thing (early adopters) and everyone else who will wait until they can see a real need for the technology. It’s important that the latest iPhone – or whatever – solves the problems that the last one didn’t, otherwise there’s no point” – Sanford
David White, Founder & CEO of import.io
What platforms should Developers who want to be in wearables be looking at?
“If you want to make money tomorrow, it has to be the Apple watch. The reality is they’re the best marketing machine and if you can capitalize on that you’re golden. But as an intellectual exercise, I would do more with Google glass. I’ll admit that as a user it’s terrible, but as a glimpse into the future it’s the platform that will represent where we’ll be in 5 years time.” – David
A BDD Thank You
Thanks so much to everyone who came to the debate and made the event so much fun! And of course I have to thank our wonderful panel for agreeing to come and debate.
We hope to see you at our next BDD in November, which will be all about drones. Spaces for that will be available on our Meetup page in the next week or so – keep your eyes peeled. And follow us on Twitter @BigDataDebate