The wearable tech revolution won’t look like the Apple Watch

“Fitbit, Apple, and Samsung have established that expectation of what a wearable can do, and I think Movano, Oura, and other companies are going to start redefining that over time.”

That’s according to Stacy Salvi. She’s vice president of strategy at a health-focused tech company Movano and saw first-hand how clothing has changed, having recently evolved after 15 years at wearable tech pioneer Fitbit. In an interview with Digital Trends, she discussed how smart jewelry — and advancements in sensor technology, in particular — will drive wearable devices forward in the near future.

Wearable revolution

“I think the role of wearable is changing,” Salvi told us. “What we want it for and what we use it for, is becoming really clear now. We are still in the very early days, but people are seeing real health benefits from wearable devices. And like [health tracking] is getting better and better, [wearables are] will mean something different. As utility and experience evolve, the way we view them will change.

Stacy Salvi, Vice President of Strategy at Movano

Salvi’s experience with one of the best-known wearable tech brands gives her solid insight into the industry, but she started her journey into the world of wearables in a bit of an unusual way.

“I joined Fitbit as the fourth lawyer on the team,” she explained, “but personally, I’ve wanted to move into the business side for a very long time. I loved being a lawyer there, but I wanted to contribute more. developing the business and product strategy. About five years after I started, I was at the center of the Google transaction, and eventually, as that happened, I moved into the product team I have seen the business from all angles.

wrist watch

Being so closely tied to the wearable tech space, she watched with interest what was happening with wearables in the real world, and it was here that she saw things change.

“I wore a Fitbit for about nine years.” she laughed and admitted that she often noticed the wear and tear on people’s wrists and that over time people’s relationship with clothes changed.

A close up of someone's arm while using a Fitbit Sense.
Fitbit Sense

“I went to Disneyland around 2016,” she recalls, “and noticed everyone was wearing a Fitbit, and then about a year later I started seeing more Apple Watch. Then, in my gym, people who still wore a Fitbit, when they bought a new phone, replaced it with an Apple Watch.

This shift in preference continued. Between early 2021 and early 2022, Fitbit’s smartwatch market share fell from 4.1% to 2.7%, while the Apple Watch has consistently remained the market leader at around 36% (according to data from Counterpoint Research).

Smart jewelry is the next wearable evolution

Movano is not, however, in direct competition with Apple, Fitbit or any other smartwatch manufacturer. Its first product will be a smart ring aimed at women, and Salvi explained why smart jewelry, in general, is evidence of wearable evolution.

“I don’t necessarily think there’s a place for a screen on every portable device,” she said. “Some people want to wear a traditional watch, and some people just have screen fatigue. You can see that wearables go from fitness to health. health and [smart] The jewelry story makes a lot of sense because you get so much more than just a notification. In five years, [wearables] will be different as sensor technology evolves and becomes more advanced.

Movano ring.  Credits: Movano official.
Movano ring Official Movano.

It was Movano’s work in chip technology that attracted Salvi to the company, and in May Movano announced that it had successfully built its own internal system on chip (SoC) ready for the next smart ring. Unusually, the chip uses radio frequency (RF) technology and not an optical sensor like you find on most wearable devices today. This brings several key advantages according to the company, including that the signal is not affected by skin pigmentation or bone, and the ability to non-invasively monitor blood pressure and blood sugar.

Technology aside, design is arguably just as important on a smart piece of jewelry as it is on a smartwatch.

“Jewellery, like music, is very specific,” she agreed. “You can’t predict what someone is going to like. It’s a balance, its utility and making a product irresistible from a user’s point of view, and making something that blends into a person’s style sensibility.

Get the right user experience

Movano’s smart ring technology and design are just the beginning. Throughout our conversation, Salvi talked about the importance of overall user experience. Her understanding of how to create what she called “a unique, thoughtful, and valuable user experience” began while working with Google at Fitbit.

An overview of Movano's Smart Ring app.
An overview of Movano’s application Movano

“It really helped me define what that user experience is, and that’s what we’re looking for,” she said. “What we’re working on is a user experience that’s really going to keep her around for the long haul, because the longer she’s with us, the more health benefits she’ll see.”

Rather than just showing the data, Movano expects its platform to associate it with specific information, so there is always a connection between daily health events and the wearer. Along with the user experience, Movano is committed to making the smart ring an attractive product for women.

“It’s going to be female-focused, and we’re looking to make medical-grade components. This puts health first. It will also be important to price as reasonably as possible, and designing our products with privacy in mind from the outset is also something we will invest in. We will be working with many women, talking to them and thinking about their evolving needs throughout their life stages from the start.

The company was founded on the fundamental belief that good health is a basic human right.

Movano is committed to respecting confidentiality. In a general press release published on the the brand’s Instagram page, he said society was founded on the fundamental belief that good health is a basic human right, including a woman’s right to choose. Salvi developed this:

“Part of my legal training helps me see from a privacy perspective what we’re going to want to address, how we’re going to do it, and how we want to talk to people to help them understand our service and the overall experience. … As we pursue FDA clearance [for the smart ring]we will be subject to rules governing health data, and this will always be central to the design of our systems. »

Coming in 2023

Movano unveiled its smart ring, currently simply called the Movano Ring, during CES 2022. But the company has been active since 2018. The Movano Ring is aimed at consumers, but goes beyond wearable health tracking devices. fitness with medical-grade technology and an ambitious range. of data points, including heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), body temperature, blood oxygen levels, and potentially blood sugar and blood pressure.

The ring is currently in beta testing and the company is in the process of obtaining FDA clearance, a requirement for medical-grade equipment sold in the United States. Salvi said that the Movano ring will be available in the first half of 2023. At the moment, its main competitor is the Oura ring, which is aimed at both men and women, as well as the circular smart ring which will be out soon.

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