Wearables 2.0: Looking at Tomorrow’s Generation Today

A Thought Leader

The stage was set for the modern Google Glass (now renamed Project Aura) in 1997, when Steve Mann submitted his paper called “Wearable Computing: A First Step Towards Personal Imaging.” This was the most transformation work in the space of wearables, since the 1977 electrotactile seeing aid developed by Carter Collins, shown below.

 Steve Mann kicked off his future prediction in 1997 by writing that,

“Miniaturization of components has enabled systems that are wearable and nearly invisible, so that individuals can move about and interact freely, supported by their personal information domain.”

Surprisingly the miniaturization of components was not all that new.  The 2001 the book called the, “Implications of Digitizing, Miniaturization and Convergence in Media and Entertainment” covers miniaturization well. Publisher, the Center for Digital Technology and Management (CDTM) a joint interdisciplinary institution of the Munich University of Technology (TUM) and the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (LMU) highlighted that, 

“basic trends and models for the music market were recognized and developed.  A possible future scenario of the music industry can be created by synthesizing these points.”

A Shift from Technology to Digital Humanism

The points of data or amount of information doubles every year. Aspects of our everyday life iPhones, iPads, TV, and the like would not be possible without silicon microelectronics. The below chart illustrates the number of transistors in successive Intel Processors as a function over time.

Moore’s Law: the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.



We now know the effect of technology innovation on the ideation of digital humanism, helped true thought leaders emerge, who have helped form today’s digital experience. Let’s travel to 1997 and step forward with Steve as he explores and challenges the definition of ‘impossible.’


To immerse yourself in the era allow me to help accelerate the journey with color.  The year is 1997: Bill Clinton was inaugurated for his second term, Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter Reynolds investment banks announce a $10 billion merger, Clinton bands funding for human cloning, Steve Jobs returns to Apple Computer, Inc. at Macworld in Boston, the first color photograph appears on the front page of The New York Times, Broadband cable starts to enter the home market and you’re watching all of this on your PC running a 486 dx2 80 MHz with 16 MB RAM and a 300 MB hard drive (if you’re lucky).


The Heart of Wearables

The heart of computer adoption and later wearable miniaturization revolve around the advancements made in the microchip and more specifically the Fairchild semiconductor.  Christophe Lécuyer and David Brock in their history of the microchip, published in 2010 by the MIT Press, “Makers of the Microchip: A Documentary History of Fairchild Semiconductor” detail the great advancements in this space over the last 75 years.


“Silicon may be considered as the information carrier of our times. In the history of information there were two revolutions (approximately 500 years apart). The first was that of Johan Gutenberg who made information available to many, the other is the invention of the transistor (Lukasiak, & Jakubowski, 2010)”


Advancements in humanism and the integration of technology was only possible because of exponential increases in capacities of silicon integrated circuits opening a new world for human interaction and modern digitization.


Mann believed the future could be better.  The Pentium II and the Intel 6th generation microarchitecture was launched in May of 1997, just three months after Steve’s paper was submitted.  Until that point the Pentium Pro was the leader which made its debut in November of 1995. But Mann had broader vision which he articulated in the first page of his paper.

“With the screen moved off the lap and up to the eyes, you can simultaneously talk to someone and take notes without breaking eye contact. Miniaturized into an otherwise normal pair of eyeglasses, such an apparatus is unobtrusive and useful in business meetings and social situations (Mann, 1997).”

The similarity between Mann’s MannGlas invention and the gen 1 GoogleGlass is remarkable.


Mann is a first principle thinker. First principle thinkers use foundational propositions or assumptions that can’t be deduced from any other proposition or assumption.  In short, you can’t just read and connect the lines.  There are no lines to connect. 


Two years after Google released the Mirror API (allowing developers to start making apps for Glass), there are still no ads permitted in these apps. This open API architecture has grown as apps from facial recognition, translation, photo manipulation, to social networks all enhance the network effect, putting new products faster into curious consumer hands.

UberNurse and UberDoc

TV show ‘Royal Pains’ goes mobile with health concierge care services! Innovative companies like Pager (NYC dispatches doctors or nurses via Uber), Heal (Los Angeles commits to getting a doc to your sofa in under an hour for $99-the med assistant drives and parks), MedZed (nurses go to patient homes, and connects with doctors via laptop) Medicast (Palo Alto, use a platform for providers to conduct virtual house calls) and Curbside Care (Philadelphia, focuses on bringing back the old with ‘family doctor house calls’), UberHealth (NYC, extends the classic ride service Uber with an extra option for health services) all offer concierge services; they bring healthcare to your home.



Go2Nurse, founded by Meg Kukiak is extending care in Illinois providing case managers in Medicare, Medicaid and ACA-created healthcare organizations. These private duty nurses provide pre-natal and post-natal care, wound care, pain management, physical therapy, medication and disease education. Language technology makes every nurse bi-lingual, a technology developed based on the Google Translate API (application programming interface: connecting the physical with the virtual). Also, RetraceHealth, out of Minneapolis, partners nurse practitioner with patients for consults via video ($50) and only sends nurses to a patient home if hand-on care is required (like drawing blood).  


Wearables of Tomorrow

Voice Activation from “record a video” to “Hangout with [person]” each can be started by a tap on the touchpad or saying “O.K., Glass…” Well, that is great, cool and basically interesting, but where is the business application?

Sticking with healthcare, we all have heard of the EHR (electronic health record, a longitudinal electronic record of patient health information generated by one of episodes of care), and the EMR (the digital version of a paper chart in a clinician’s office with medical and treatment history for one practice and PHR (personal health record, where health and information data are maintained by the patient) unlike EMR typically owned by a hospital or provider. What is the next step in patient health. 

Welcome to the WHR (wearable health record), a medical record that travels with you.  

From Google Glass to Fitbit to your iPhone it’s clear that the experience of healthcare is changing.  The doctors of tomorrow will be using wearables to recall medical histories, provide real-time notifications of test results while speaking with the doctors or during surgery. Whether on the wrist, face or chest real-time information is a reality today and will be even more advanced for tomorrow.  Wearable technology allows doctors a hands free environment, to think about you instead of other interactions (writing charts, or slowly looking up patient history). Doctors can step into your medical record hands free, within seconds.

Let’s combine the idea of wearables like Google Glass with precise geo-location technology and Bluetooth LE.  Tomorrow when you walk into a doctors office your chart will automatically flip up (like happens now when you walk by a Sephora or Starbucks) on the doctors Google Glass or pop onto the touch screen on the office wall.   Your medical record will be available through the glass and can be moved, with simple voice commands, onto the flat-screen.

It’s true healthcare is heavily regulated. There are really two broad categories of wearables FDA Approved Devices and Non-FDA Approved Devices.  FDA Approved Devices include Blood Glucose Monitoring by glooko and Blood Glucose Monitoring by AgaMatrix that allow real-time testing of glucose levels. For example Intelligent Stethoscope by Eko Devices extends a typical stethoscope by linking with bluetooth for an audio recorders. Non-FDA Approved Devices include 3D printed prosthetics. They are not FDA-approved yet, but are being used by satisfied patients today, that otherwise could not walk.


Who’s out there among us today, discovering what we’ll be talking about in 10 years?  One area that will be critical are API (application programming interface), the API specifies how software components should interact. APIs are the link (think integration) between the physical and virtual world. Translating this to wearables, cutting edge APIs are redefining how digital and human interaction occurs.  A handful of the top healthcare wearable APIs include: BOX API, HUMAN API, FHIR Argonaut API Standard, Betterdoctor API, Doximity API,Apple Healthkit API and SDK.  These are being used today!


Mann is the “father of wearable computing”, having created the gen 1 wearable computer in the early 1980’s.  As is evident below, Google Glass didn’t just appear, it evolved.  It’s reasonable to conclude that the technologies of tomorrow also won’t just appear, but will evolve from an idea someone has been playing with and tinkering with for years.

I look forward to exploring the possibilities of tomorrow with you: Measuring and visualizing the invisible. It all starts with believing a better tomorrow is possible!




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Peter Nichol, empowers organizations to think different for different results. You can follow Peter on Twitter or on his blog. Peter can be reached at pnichol [dot] spamarrest.com.

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Peter is a technology executive with 19 years of experience, dedicated to driving innovation, digital transformation, leadership, and data in business. He helps organizations connect strategy to execution to maximize company performance. He has been recognized for Digital Innovation by CIO 100, MIT Sloan, Computerworld, and the Project Management Institute. As Managing Director at OROCA Innovations, Peter leads the CXO advisory services practice, driving digital strategies. Peter was honored as an MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award Finalist in 2015 and is a regular contributor to CIO.com on innovation. Peter has led businesses through complex changes, including the adoption of data-first approaches for portfolio management, lean six sigma for operational excellence, departmental transformations, process improvements, maximizing team performance, designing new IT operating models, digitizing platforms, leading large-scale mission-critical technology deployments, product management, agile methodologies, and building high-performance teams. As Chief Information Officer, Peter was responsible for Connecticut’s Health Insurance Exchange’s (HIX) industry-leading digital platform transforming consumerism and retail oriented services for the health insurance industry. Peter championed the Connecticut marketplace digital implementation with a transformational cloud-based SaaS platform and mobile application recognized as a 2014 PMI Project of the Year Award finalist, CIO 100, and awards for best digital services, API, and platform. He also received a lifetime achievement award for leadership and digital transformation, honored as a 2016 Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader. Peter is the author of Learning Intelligence: Expand Thinking. Absorb Alternative. Unlock Possibilities (2017), which Marshall Goldsmith, author of the New York Times No. 1 bestseller Triggers, calls "a must-read for any leader wanting to compete in the innovation-powered landscape of today." Peter also authored The Power of Blockchain for Healthcare: How Blockchain Will Ignite The Future of Healthcare (2017), the first book to explore the vast opportunities for blockchain to transform the patient experience. Peter has a B.S. in C.I.S from Bentley University and an MBA from Quinnipiac University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He earned his PMP® in 2001 and is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Masters in Business Relationship Management (MBRM) and Certified Scrum Master. As a Commercial Rated Aviation Pilot and Master Scuba Diver, Peter understands first hand, how to anticipate change and lead boldly.