Philippe Kahn shares his thoughts on Wearables

If you want to stand a chance in the mHealth or wearables market you must not miss a second of this inspiring Fireside chat betweenFullPower CEO Phillipe Kahn and Ubergizmo’s Eliane Fiolet.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. Then check out his #GLAZEDcon talk

the biggest disease on the planet is sleep deprivation, it’s the low hanging fruit… …If you go anywhere in the world and ask people would you like to sleep more they say yes. Sleep deprivation is the big opportunity not just for things like this (the Jawbone Up) but also for things like mattresses. We’re working on a new generation of mattresses that will allow two sleepers to sleep at different temperatures. 90% of couples like to sleep at different temperatures and it’s apparently the source of lots of ‘it’s too warm, it’s too cold, open the window, close the window’ arguments. So think about wearables that can monitor these differences and work with each individual sleep pattern to allow one to sleep at 65 degrees and their partner to sleep at 74 degrees and not have to worry about it… …at CES 2015 one of the big things is going to be mattresses…

…2 or 3 years ago we were talking about wearables to people and they were looking at us like ‘are you stupid? everything is web 2.0″ because that was the fashion or “you’re not a social network? who cares about wearables?” and now nobody cares about social networks! …in the wearable world technology becomes important because things can become very small, minuture yet need to work and be accurate and be meaningful so it becomes a technology game…

…the average consumer will have 5 wearable devices. Average price will be $100. So that’s $500 and that’s the price of a smartphone. So it’s going to be a huge market.

…what people buy is not tech and specs… Mr and Mrs everyone who buy brands who care about what they look like, cares about fashion, they’re going to want industrial design and the only way you can get that is if the designers aren’t constrained by technology. So in my opinion the technology is differentiated by it’s ability to incarnate itself and incapsulate itself in great industrial design… …we’re different because we come at this thinking things have to become extremely small and extremely low power, our ideal design is infinite battery life…

…the problem with Google Glass is that it’s very personal what we put on our face… …we have done a lot of the earliest work with wearable glass with Oakley with glasses that can monitor your heart rate and things but I bet no two people in here have the same frame glasses? (no one from audience has the same frame and later in the chat he proves it again by pointing to fact that no two people in the room are wearing the same shirt)… … e’ve found that, especially with men, if they sit at the same table with someone who has the same fashion watch they get upset: ‘oh you have the same Rolex model as I do, oh my god”… people want that diversity, diversity is important everywhere… …so the first problem with glass is it’s a fashion accessory because it’s on your face and people look at their face in the mirror for longer than they look at any other part of their body so when you’re going to put something on your face you’re really going to care about how it looks. That’s going to be a really important piece of it. The second piece of it is if you are talking to someone who is wearing Google Glass their immediate reaction is ‘woah, are you filming me? Are they taking a picture?” you almost want a little red light to blink like with a video camera. It’s intrusive and part of the magic of wearables is that it has to be non intrusive. That basically it’s invisible and it disappears… …now the device effects the interaction. So there are 2 big challenges: fashion accessory and it’s intrusive.

…Privacy is the elephant in the room with all this and the NSA scandal has really hit that in a big way and this is how I think about it: here’s a short anecdote. I was in the office of the CEO of Sprint a few years back when we wanted to do something to do with helping the people at Sprint who had type 2 diabetes. Sprint had at least 25,000 employees so statistically they had at least 2,500 employees with diabetes but it was probably many more than that. So he was all excited because he said ‘I can help these people and it’s going to make my workforce more productive and so he sent an email saying ‘please, here’s a $100 a month bonus for anyone who is a type 2 diabetic who wants to participate in this study”. Zero response. No one in his company had any interest. And the reason was that everybody said ‘no one gets a promotion because they have type 2 diabetes’… …so people were really really concerned about that. And (with no takers) he said ‘why have i a healthy company?’ and I said ‘no you have a scared company’… …so let’s say we launch a wearable shirt that’s picking up – because you’re always looking at the good part it’s like the digitalisation of the health record, everyone said ‘that’s fantastic that’s going to help the universe’. Well what happened is scary because the people who want the digitalisation of healthcare records are usually perfectly healthy athletes right out of school probably before they get into the body fat fights in their lives, let’s put everyone on there so we can find out all the conditions that everybody has and then they take this to Mr and Mrs normal people – not super healthy super athlete/hero types – and you look at that and what you find is something quite extra ordinary because people don’t want that because they know that if their insurance gets a hold that sometimes they have irregular heart beats they are going to want to raise their insurance premium, they may question whether or not they should be driving and it keeps on going like that. It’s very well known that all pilots stop drinking coffee four days before their physical because most of them wouldn’t pass it because they drink so much coffee! So four days to pass their caffeine, then they pass their physical and then they start drinking their coffee again. If they have an irregular heart beat they might lose their license (to fly/earn a living) so I think that’s really the problem. The challenge is going to be in privacy. Because wearable is at your heart beat it’s not just about where you’ve been…”

#GLAZEDcon “…if you care about Mr & Mrs Everyone what is the benefit for them in having a platform say owned by Samsung or Apple or the NSA? What’s the benefit for your insurance company in owning all your health information? What’s the benefit in Apple or a device maker have? So I think there are different points of view and we’re technologists and we build technology so we are happy to pretty much work with all these constituents in their work and it’s very exciting to see how the business is growing but I think that when you look at questions like that it really depends who you talk to and who you are talking about, whether its developers or end users or insurance companies…

…(asked about Samsung’s MWC14 & Voice of the Body event announcements) I’m not sure what you mean by ‘open’. Does open mean that anybody has access to my information? Does open mean that there is some API that I as a device maker can use to make a device that runs that and then the information that my devices produce for the user becomes part of that? …I think for example the Apple or Samsung announcement was made for developers, if you’re a developer and you want to build a device you can actually use Apple’s ecosystem and do that if you want to do that. Google has something similar with Android Wear and you’re gonna have kind of duopoly of those, you’ll have some choice, but this is not like a sports event where there’s one winner. This is not a situation like we have in sports where one team is going to win the Stanley Cup. There are going to be multiple winners, there’s going to be multiple players and as an IP company most of those companies will be either partners or customers of ours…. …we see several winners, Apple’s going to win, Google’s going to win, but there’s also people who are going to be neutral of device making for example who may win… …and there’s other independent device makers who may actually provide a great platform that you care about so I think it all really depends on what point of view you look at: the device maker, the platform maker like Apple who of course want all the people plugging in their devices and they’ll have their own devices eventually and will use that data to improve their own devices. Obviously they’re gonna do that and so will many others like Google who will be a little bit more neutral on that because they’re not trying to ship devices… …so I think there’s going to be a lot of winners. It’s a huge market, it’s a high-growth market. It’s not one winner takes all…

…I think now as a device maker you have to ask yourself are you going to adopt Samsung’s device platform knowing that Samsung is in the device business. Will a device maker adopt Apple’s device platform knowing that Apple is in the device business? As a user do you want to have the ability to switch from an iOS phone to an Android phone or the other way around? And if you go to Apple’s platform will there be lip service support for Android or you know just like you know Google Docs support the iPhone quite well in fact Google Maps is very good on iPhone. So I think you have to look at all these as it’s not as simplistic as people saying ‘of there’s an open platform everybody’s going to put their health information (there), I think it’s much more complex and when it comes to health information if we were worried about the NSA doing searchs on our emails to find the word ‘bomb’ in it let alone what’s gonna happen when our favorite platform maker sells that information to the insurance company who figures out that because of your average blood glucose reading or your average blood pressure reading, or you’re not walking enough your insurance has to go up 20% or you should get a new test for for for your driver’s license. Remember this is not like your score on Flappy Bird or some other program, its Your Personal Health Information. A lot of the people who are trying to figure ‘how do we make money’ or ‘I have no chronic conditions so I don’t care’ but I have a lot of friends who have chronic conditions and know that they don’t want their information (shared) because nobody ever gets ahead in any job within any corporate environment or with any insurance policy or in anything you do by having a chronic health condition like high blood pressure, diabetes, whatever it is. I mean do we want that?

…from looking at over a hundred million nights of sleeping activity in our big data repositories that we get from our work with Jawbone, Nike and others (you can tell things but) does a female want us to use statistical analysis to be able to tell whether they have terminated a pregnancy? Do people want that? If you’re worried about the NSA having having access to stuff we should be really worried and asking a lot of questions instead of saying ‘oh yeah great we’re gonna give that information’. This is very personal information and I don’t think people have realized that yet.

(Question: So you are actually in this business because you actually collect this data so what is the solution for real privacy for the data?) …well the first thing I think that’s really important is that users should be aware of how that data may be used. For example you need to make sure that today everybody’s putting everything on Facebook. Nobody knows how these pictures are being used and now you’re going to put your sleep information on Facebook then you’re going to get into a car accident and your sleep information is going to be there and you’re gonna find out that you (only) had an hour and a half sleep last night and maybe you smoke a little pot and the insurance company will say ‘hey you’re liable I’m not covering you’. Who knows? I’m just saying people have no idea of the consequences of these things and we need to be very careful of course you know this is not like announcing a programming language for building video games, this is our lives this is Mr & Mrs Everyone’s lives. This is a really serious business because it’s very personal, we make the core technology and a lot of the IP in this and we see it every day so it’s going to be really important that companies have a very strict understanding of what their user is willing to do with their information and first is why should you trust all your health information to one company anyway there is nothing that says that you have to have a sleep monitor and you have to send it to Apple or to Android…

…I think there are going to be people who are going to say oh fine I’ll give it all to Apple or Google or Facebook or whoever it is and I think it’s fine that some people do that but I think you’ll find that people who have chronic conditions before they start looking at that they start going… this is something that happened in the digital records business and in the medical community when about five years ago everybody said that in the medical industry everybody’s going to have digitized records that every physician is going to be able to access so I go to see my General Practitioner and he sends me to somebody else like a Cardiologist then I’m on vacation and I think maybe I have some spot because I’ve been in the Sun too long so I’ll go to someone who can access and see all my records and that is so good to treat me and make me feel better and I get much better medicine that way. But I understand that some people want to keep a tag on everyone all the time but there is no research in the world that says that that makes for better medicine in fact if you look at all research
nothing points to that and if you look at people who have a chronic condition they found that… …there is no benefit (for an individual) from sharing that information except to take people back and I think that’s going to be the big issue with some the wearable information. People say ‘oh yeah we’re gonna put all the medical information out there’ but I think we have to be very careful to ensure that doesn’t lead to a science fiction you know like the minority report or some crazy society… …it’s a real issue that transcends wanting to make money out of wearables and all that it’s really an important question that we need to ask and of course every company wants to own all this. Every company wants to get all these devices there but I think users and we as an industry have to figure out how can we use technology to return that privacy that right to be an individual human when we have all these companies who want to take all that privacy away to monetize it in some way’… …if we were concerned about the NSA doing text searches on our email conversations for the word ‘bomb’ wait till people have access to your full health records from birth and then you’ll be surprised at what happens you know you will have people coming to your house and saying ‘you have to go to the hospital now, you have to go you have no choice’, ‘you know you you cannot drive your car you’re not allowed to drive a car anymore because we found this and that and your now too much of a risk and statistically you know out of 200 people who have exactly the same history as you 180 had this accident so we cannot drive let you drive anymore’ and you’ll be there thinking ‘oh my god I’ve lost all control of any personal freedom that I had’. This doesn’t appear to be the case when you look at things directly but when you take him to the next level of detail you start realising these are powerful questions to ask specially the light of what happened with the NSA. I’m actually surprised that people are not having this debate in a very wide way. Do we want to give all that to everyone or anyone who says ‘oh yeah I will give it for you for free you know we’ll store it for you for free’. Nothing’s free in this business… …(big round of applause) that’s great hey I need all the support I can get as sometimes I feel like I’m preaching in the desert here.

…can we help people sleep better? absolutely and I think it’s much more than 23% (of the US population who have sleep issues) I think it’s over 80% of people have a sleep problem. Let me ask you some questions here: Who thinks that last night they had too much sleep? Okay 1 person. Who here thinks that last night they had not enough sleep? (all hands go up in audience) We live in a completely sleep-deprived society. I talk to a lot of people you put a thousand random people in a room whether they are high-tech people like we are, you know we are all high tech people, or you go to a farming town and you realise everybody is sleep deprived. There is not enough time and so anything you can do to help people sleep better helps a lot in fact you know I was really impressed that in The Huffington Post Ariana Huffington that’s her big thing I was listening to her and she was saying that the most important thing then she’s learned over all her career is to sleep more and I said exactly. But we don’t think it’s sleep more we think it’s sleep better, understanding your sleep, understanding what’s going on. You probably don’t need to sleep more you need to sleep more efficiently it’s not the amount of time you spend rolling and tossing in bed it’s actually how much sleep you got and by understanding what’s going on then you can do much better. I think it’s a huge opportunity because every mammal sleeps and of course every human being sleeps. It’s true for dogs too. Dogs are much more opportunistic than we are they sleep when they can and then they’re ready to go anytime that’s how we want to be I have this theory you know that we should learn from dogs…

…this is how we design our technology, we’ve spent 10 years actually designing solutions based around creating feedback loops and getting more usage and now we do in that way you know hundred-million nights of sleep and now 100 million days of activity and especially in the sleep area where the the deep understanding of that technology is really important and so I think that everything we’re going to see is gonna feedback in that way. Big data is a big part of the design. I mean I read some places where it says that that’s exactly why Apple wants to get all that data is to help them design a device because they realize it’s not obvious to design a device… …that we can learn from what we know and the more data we have the more we can learn but the problem is regulators always lag the industrial opportunity unless you have a big scandal like the NSA scandal where you know everybody realises ‘oh my god everybody’s listening to what we do’ everybody is listening to my phone calls and people are reading my email but I mean it wasn’t the case, we got robots trying to look for some keywords and if they found them they took it to the next level of detail etc but with health information as we said we think it’s even more important but I think it’s gonna take an awakening and I was glad to hear you guys all excited about that to understand what it meant for all of us, for Mr & Mrs Everyone. I think it’s very very important, it’s seminal. It’s way more important than knowing who owns a spreadsheet or even on Facebook who owns your pictures. This is your life and this is your life in a box and people can do a lot to stuff whether they are insurance companies or whatever… …if you look at what’s happening where we’re trying to give everyone in this country health care. Finally we are becoming a civilized nation, which will tell you what side of the debate I’m on, finally you know you’ll have universal health care but we don’t want to have universal spying on people’s health metrics to be able to choose to give them different access to life because that’s what it is. I mean do we really want that to happen I think it’s really dangerous and so regulation will happen exactly in that way if there is a reaction to all this that says hey wait a minute, all this enthusiasm about open platforms is very superficial but the reality is what does that mean for us as human beings what will it mean and you remember we’ve a democracy in this country everybody’s kind of elected and accountable but there are many countries where that’s not the case. Imagine now the same things being applied say in Russia right now or in North Korea where it’s already the case. All this technology becomes a much bigger issue for everyone. So I completely agree it needs to happen but it’s only gonna happen if there is a groundswell movement to say hey we’ve got the technology to do all this but now we need to make sure that Mr & Mrs Everyone’s privacy is protected from Big Brother watching him. It’s just that simple. And it’s not just your pictures it’s not just you know the websites it’s not just the porn that people watch it’s your most important data its your health information and that’s a big deal…

(Question from audience: do you know of any organizations that are effectively advocating for individual privacy for wearability wearable data especially in the United States where we have a significant lobbying force for any regulatory agency that you’re gonna need some group thats advocating and fighting its lobbyists on the other side of the coin?) I know of one: you guys when you come out (of this conference room) well I hope so as that’s kinda my mission right now to help the wearable industry and we believe that ultimately with health companies like Apple and others because because this could all come to a halt very quickly just like the NSA surveillance you don’t want the push in wearables to end up like the NSA’s surveillance where suddenly you have the government saying you can’t do this anymore. So we think it’s really important that we all start talking about this and making sure that we don’t get into that big brother is watching you world and can focus on the technology and build the most exciting opportunity on the planet because this is where both the most exciting opportunity in at least a decade that’s a big deal and it doesn’t happen very often but at the same time we want to make sure that just like the NSA Big Data stuff came to a halt…”

HatTip: Big thank you to Mateo Fowler for sharing this fascinating recording


Privacy: Why citizens need access to the advice of impartial independent Doctors
mHealth Insights into Wearables
How M2M Connectivity will Radically Transform Healthcare: An Introduction to the Telcare Mobile Connected Blood Glucose Monitor
Smartphones will reinvent & multiply the Hearing Aid market rather than cannibalise it
Who would make up my Fantasy mHealth Team
Are quantified self critics asking the wrong questions?

*** UPDATE: 11 August 2014 ***

My favourite Mobile Industry Analyst Tomi Ahonen has started preparing for the launch of the 2014 edition of the TomiAhonen Phone Book, a definitive statistical analysis of the global mobile handset industry, and has shared some incredibly elusive statistics about cameras, camera phones, photographs, adoption and citizen behaviour. 16 years ago last week (Happy Birthday Sophie!) Phillipe Kahn invented the camera phone and Tomi’s data really highlights the visionary talent that is here predicting a new industry comparable in size to the smartphone industry.

In 1999 when Philippe Kahn last changed the world with a big prediction that no one believed would happen (he had to go to Japan to get Sharp as an initial customer for the cameraphone) only about 1 in 20 people owned a camera of any description. Today 1 in 2 of the citizens of the world have a camera and annually we take 1 trillion (1,000 Billion) pictures.

*** UPDATE: 30 November 2015 ***

I just got a glimpse of this new Patent that has been granted to Philippe Kahn and I get the feeling that we’ll see him once again in a knock out SuperBowl ad (hopefully we won’t have to wait until 2030!) explaining how we used to all suffer from a lack of sleep…


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