This evening I went to my first ever “We Are Wearables” Meetup here in Toronto, held in the MaRS Discovery District. It was by far the largest attendance I have ever seen for a Meetup with over 500 people RSVP-ing, with a conference-scale number of participants. The meetup is organized by Tom Emrich.
The theme for this particular event was post-launch response to the Apple Watch, together with the launch of the girls wearable Linkitz, who started their Kickstarter campaign today. I missed the majority of the Apple Watch discussion due to my late arrival, but hope to be able to view video of that discussion at a later stage.
I am personally very skeptical of the Apple Watch (and of Android Wear) having seen what the Tizen-based Samsung Gear series are capable of. In comparison, I think the Apple Watch is not particularly interesting from a pure technical perspective. However, Apple being Apple, the Apple Watch could be what brings wearables to the mass market, and brings the rising tide for the rest of the eco-system.
Linkitz have an excellent product idea. They seek to encourage ongoing interest and engagement in technology amongst girls by providing a set of wearable, pluggable pieces – a simple programmable toolkit, if you will. Their observation is that there is a big difference between USING technology and CREATING WITH technology. Passive iPad usage isn’t teaching you much. Building things is, and providing an appealing technical building opportunity for girls can help them stay engaged around the age where they often drift away from technology through lack of encouragement and opportunity to build their active skills.
They joined an accelerator program in China to prototype their hardware.
Lyssa Neel, the founder, shared that they had been asked to announce at TechCrunch Disrupt, but had turned it down because they wanted to launch here in Toronto, which she termed the best place in the world for wearables. Cue big cheers!
Following the presentations there was time for bar/food/demo/mingling in the atrium, where I met these fine gentlemen from Tangerine who demo-ed their Apple Watch application to me. It seems that TD, Tangerine, CIBC and Desjardin have all launched similar Apple Watch apps, mainly shying away from initiating transactions, with more of a “read-only” view to start with.
This was an Apple Watch application showing news headlines and images from a newspaper feed, being demonstrated by The Working Group.
I also had a good conversation with ecobee (smart thermostats) about the dreadful heating in our home in Vancouver, and how the dumb heating likely needed fixing before “smartness” would make any sense. They are competing with Nest.
I also spoke to Voovo, who are doing what I would call “Airbnb for 3D printers”, connecting people who want 3D prints done with people who have 3D printers available to do those prints on. Good idea! Plus various other random chats. And cupcakes and pizza. Good times!
Thanks to everyone who I met for an enjoyable evening. I’ll be back for the next session, on wearables for Pets!