As part of my studies I was lucky enough to attend the Wearable Technologies Conference held in Sydney, December of 2017. This was my first “proper” conference so, I was excited. As an undergrad we don’t really get told how to network, only that need to do it.
#WTAUS17 was an amazing opportunity to get some insights into the wearable technologies industry, see what was happening in current R&D and state of the art in wearable tech. Another major draw was networking, playing your cards right at events like this may get you introduced to future employers, colleagues and collaborators. Pretty intimidating if you think about it too much.
Anyway, I thought I’d share some of my tips, and highlights from the conference. I hope you enjoy.
After arriving the day before to getting my bearings and doing some more background research on the presenters. I set out for the International Convention Centre, Sydney. Between the excitement and the summer heat I think I got about four hours sleep. Still, I managed to be the first in the room. Not really as cool as I thought, the combination of being tired and suffering mild imposter syndrome, meant I wasn’t in the best frame of mind to start the day networking. As you can see above I was very exited none the less.
To start us off we heard from Christian Stammel, Wearable Technologies CEO. Delivering the Keynote address, giving us a rundown of where the Wearable Technology (WT) market is sitting, where it’s going and what to expect in the future. My imposters syndrome started diminishing fairly quick, as I realised I was familiar with almost all the tech concepts and applications that were being discussed. It was also incredibly exciting to realise that my honours research is right on the money for what the industry is looking for.
The conference was broken in to several sections, with the bulk of the first day dedicated to using WT for Health and Wellness. There was a huge emphasis on ensuing technology is used as a positive force of disruption. “Disrupt or be Disrupted” was a major theme of the conference. Day 1 also included discussions on how WT can be used in Sport and Performance.
To get the day started and everyone in the mood to disrupt, Kaila Colbin from Singularity University stepped onto the stage. Speaking of the “Doubling rate of technology” and how the bold claims and timeframes given by the likes of Elon Musk and others. Aren’t that extraordinary when you stop and think about how fast our tech continues to evolve. We also got a good run down of the SU philosophy, using innovative technologies to address real world problems (I just wanted to get out there and start disrupting the system.) Using technology to change the world for the betterment of all.
To emphasise how fast technology evolves Kaila showed us images of the DxtER diagnostic device by Final Frontier Medical Devices. A functioning tricorder, the medical scanner from Star Trek. Which can currently diagnose 34 different conditions. It’s amazing piece of technology. However, my first though was. “That could be smaller, next version will be much sleeker.” A sentiment echoed by Kaila speaking to our expectations of technology and the exponential growth in our ability to make astounding technological leaps in.
George Monemvasitis CEO of SOLOS Integrity Systems walked us through how WT can be used to tackle counterfeit clothing and accessories. Plus, giving integrated WT advantages to customers who buy genuine sports brands.
Doctors, John Lambert HealthTech expert and HSIA Board member. Lilian Laranjo Specialist in Family Medicine and post doctoral research Fellow, Centre for Health Informatics. Ruth De Souza, Stream Leader, Research , Policy and Evaluation, Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health, North Richmond Community Health and Justin Miller sharing their experiences with wearables in various medical and research settings. Giving us some great insights into their research, experience using WT and current limitations of WT in a healthcare setting.
Lee Walsh from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) also gave an incredibly informative (but dry, and look when you’re talking regulations it’s going to be dry,) rundown of how the TGA regulates medical devices. “Refer to the Essential Principals.” The section of the Therapeutic Goods act that explains, in depth what a therapeutic medical device is and what designers/startups need to address if they want to take their product to market.
It was genuinely interesting to get a better understanding of who the TGA are and how they operate.
Justine Miller from Nuhera then gave us a rundown of their product the IQbuds which can be used to enhance a conversation or filter out distracting ambient noise. He also walked us through how the Intelligent Hearables market is developing and innovating wearable technologies. The tech involved in these ear buds sounds amazing.
A panel discussion with Ruth, John, Lee and Justin also delved further into how WT and eHealth could be better used in health care. Their diagnosis? Basically, ensure your system gives relevant insights and can be easily ported over to different systems. There’s no point giving doctors raw data that they have to try and sift through, especially if it’s not standardised or clinically significant.
Another highlight of the day was the presentation by Simon Ward and Ivana Popovac from Cochlear. “Cochlear Case Study: Engineering Industry Leading Wearable and Implanted Devices.” The two presented a case study of Cochlear’s development and innovations as well as presenting the “Cochlear 7.” An Apple enabled system which allows for integration with entertainment and communication devices. As well as giving system insights to allow parents of children with severe hearing loss to better monitor their child’s development.
The Day 1 program also included an afternoon session of WT for sports and performance. However, by the afternoon I was mentally and physically drained and couldn’t hang around for the final session.
The first day had been so jam packed with content and networking, it was hard to keep track of everything but between my notes and twitter feed, I think I did okay. After a long and fascinating day I was glad to have the afternoon off, be a bit more of a tourist and wind down before day 2 and even more content.
Time to be touristy….
I’ll be back with day 2 shortly, for now enjoy some of the tips from day 1 of my first conference.
- Do your homework. I mentioned I’d looked up the presenters prior to the conference but I should have been more thorough. Having a really good handle on who’s presenting what and some back ground on their organisation/research makes it a lot easier to ask questions.
- Ask Questions. I found that either having a question ready or asking for a bit more detail on particular topics from a presentation not only gave me more insight into that presenter. It also allows you to participate and helps with networking. Being recognised for asking good questions gives you a nice icebreaker. Presenters also really appreciate good questions as it lets them talk a bit more about their topic without going over time.
- Get your LinkedIn and other social media presences in order. I’m pretty happy with my digital presence and just about every time I got talking to someone, the way we suggested to make further contact was through LinkedIn. Heading to a conference, you want people to be able to find you online and have a good representation of who you are.
- Networking can be intimidating. Networking is one of the major draw cards for events like this where you are meeting your industry peers and potential collaborators. It can be intimidating, especially for a first timer but it’s a really useful skill and important to be comfortable with it. Getting as much practice as possible before hand is crutial.
Until next time.
Ask your questions, support your opinions with evidence, discuss, edify.