For the second time, the WEST Conference (Wearable Entertainment & Sports Toronto) opened their doors to wearable enthusiasts at the MaRS Discovery District in the heart of Toronto on November 3rd 2015. More than 600 visitors (including seven Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology students) had the chance to get their hands on the latest gear and talk to the creators, designers, and visionaries in person.
As a current MBET student working with wearable technology as part of my entrepreneurial practicum, the WEST Conference was a great environment to explore the possibilities of wearable devices and connect directly with those who shape the future of this young but emerging industry.
A glimpse into the future of wearable tech
Tom Emrich, WEST founder and wearable tech thinker, started the event off by taking attendees on a journey from the beginning of entertainment to the future trends and predictions of wearable technology.
Emrich’s prediction for the future is ‘Teleporting Together.’ He envisions that people will meet in virtual space and interact with each other as if they were in the same room. According to Emrich, virtual reality will enable people to have the best seat in the house and bring them right into the action, whether they’re watching the Blue Jays in the World Series or sitting next to Paul McCartney. Mixed reality will bring the game into the outside world instead of being confined to your TV!
The sports industry will also have an increasing interest in gathering more accurate and complete data from athletes. Companies like Zebra Technologies are already able to track vital stats of players in real-time during a game. Data is being used as content: wearable devices are used to collect data and visualize the content, but this process can also be reversed. For example, with the Alert Shirt, sport fans can feel what the players feel during a game.
Digital meets physical, reality meets fantasy
Wearables represent a domain where digital meets physical. They will not only change the experience of an individual, but connect human beings to form the power of the crowd.
Lightwave, for example, uses technology to connect people in ways that feel magical; during concerts, the movement and engagement of the crowd can be visualized, which allows the crowd to interact in unity.
Bringing feelings and emotions from the real world into a fantasy world is the promise of virtual reality, according to Curtis Hickman, the founder and chief creative officer of The Void. His keynote was remarkable not only because of his skills as a magician, but also his vision of virtual reality. The Void aims to use technology to allow users to walk into new dimensions and experience adventures without limits by transforming the truth into fantasy through guided perception.
Hands-on experience and connection
During the event, which was packed with keynotes and panels, I had the chance to get my hands on amazing technologies. Two highlights were:
- Ollinfit, which is a wearable personal trainer founded by three biomedical engineering students, who launched their product on Kickstarter just before the WEST Conference;
- Vagalume Collection, which embeds illuminating technology into clothing to create more visibility and an interactive experience.
It was incredibly valuable to get ‘outside the building’ and connect to those who have gone through the journey of creating their enterprise. I was able to hear the many stories behind each company and also tell my very own and become connected to a unique community.
Alexandru Gogan is a full stack-developer who loves technology, travelling, and photography. After his undergrad in Information Management Systems in Germany, he pursued a Postgraduate degree in Advanced Computing in Scotland to strengthen his software engineering skills.
After working as a consultant and developer for four years at Sopra Steria Consulting, Alexandru joined the MBET program to transfer his skills and bring innovation to large organizations.