Quite literally the hottest wearable tech event in Europe, the 6th Wear It Innovation Summit took place on the 25th and 26th June 2019 at Berlin’s Kulturbrauerei in the midst of a 38°C heatwave.
Founded in 2014 by wearable electronics aficionado Thomas Gnahm – also responsible for the 1500 member strong Wearable Berlin: Technology and Fashiontech Meetup – this year’s event once again showcased the technologies of tomorrow from industry leaders and game changing startups alike, with plenty of advice on how to turn innovative ideas into viable businesses, as well as a pitch competition.
Health and medical wearables took centre stage, from smartARM AI-powered prosthetics to KYMIRA infrared performance and recovery sportswear, the Connextyle stroke rehabilitation shirt and Polar smart coaching wearables. Management and privacy of data was a key topic in this area, and particularly for medical tech, speeding up time to market with better business approaches, collaboration and funding so that products don’t take forever to be approved by healthcare regulators and insurers.
Showstoppers from the Summit included presentations on the Austrian Space Forum’s spacesuit simulators for future voyages to Mars, 3D knitting by the Carnegie Mellon Textiles Lab and a live demonstration of the Rokoko Smartsuit Pro motion capture system. For this edition there was a strong acknowledgement of sustainability and it was great to see Aniela Hoitink of NEFFAand Karin Fleck of Vienna Textile Lab discuss biogenic materials and dyes; Women in tech were recognised too with a dedicated networking session for female entrepreneurs.
Whether sportswear or space suits, integrating wearbles into garments was a theme across the talks, getting rid of the interface and saying goodbye to clunky, uncomfortable tech. Clothing has a much larger surface area to work with compared to a wrist-worn gadget – often made up of a considerable amount of battery – however harvesting and storing energy without one continues to be a challenge.
As voiced by Drew Henson of personal safety tech company SEAM, no-one needs more gimmicky wearables that are destined for the sock drawer, and user-centred design is where the focus should be. Technology ought to improve our lives, not complicate them; and nor are robots out to steal our jobs, Jens Lambrecht of Gestalt Robotics assured.
Photo: Wear It Berlin & Michael Wittig