The very title of the WEST Conference – Wearables: Changing the Game of Sports & Entertainment – gives you an idea of what this one-day conference hoped to accomplish…with its agenda that it is “a discussion on how wearable technology is changing the way we make music, watch movies, train athletes and play sports. WEST is one full day of featured speakers, expert panels, announcements, demos and networking with those working in this space.” The conference takes place at the Gallery in Toronto and features key speakers from Adidas, Intel, the US Olympics, Toronto FC, Golden State Warriors, CFC, 1188 Films, PUSH, Bionym, Sensoria Fitness, Recon Instruments and more.
Tom Emrich, co-founder of the WEST Conference and founder of We Are Wearables did the opening keynote speech, where de declared, “Canada is an epicenter of technology.” It was a great kickoff to the start of a day of exploring the impact of wearable technology on how we create and experience sports and entertainment…not to mention that those creations can also have a huge impact on the success of wearables. We all know that wearables are the wave of the future, but how fast we adopt them is proportional to how much value or fun that we perceive from them.
The all-day event kept alternating between keynotes, networking sessions and panel discussions. There was an exciting blend of established firms, such as Adidas, with startup firms, such as MeU and Onyx Motion with coherent discussions without a bunch of technical jargon. Health and fitness was a major point of topic and one conclusion was that while many people are concerned about their health, the general population is not interested in an all-in-one solution, but wearables targeted specifically for them. Kip Fyfe, CEO of 4iiii Innovations said, “We have to determine what’s actually useful and what’s just a gimmick,” as he cited a noticeable decline in market interest for basic step-tracking devices.
Another area of interest was the need to change the view of women’s wearables, as Intel futurist Brian David Johnson, who stated that ‘a “shrink it and pink it” approach to female technology is not only ineffective, but also insulting.’ Also discussed was the topic of privacy – much information can be gathered up and sold by using a wearable, and while many of the panelists were against the idea, they admitted that the software designers and marketers may have other ideas. While health and fitness were foremost on the agenda, wearables will also contribute big-time to the entertainment industry as well, as Dave Strickland, CMO at Sulon Technologies said, “the television business is in desperate shape and in need of something new.” VR-based promotions for upcoming films were discussed as well as Samsung’s Gear VR leading the way to the “optimal sub-$100 price point.” “Every panelist was quick to agree that, like most consumer technology developments in the past 30 years, it would ultimately be gaming and porn that would push the tech into mass adoption.” Now that’s a ‘healthy’ outlook on the future of wearables!