WiMM Labs, a Silicon Valley based startup with financial backing from Taiwanese manufacturing powerhouse Foxconn, is developing an Android-based wearable computing platform
centered around a one-inch by one-inch mini touch screen, which looks like an iPod Nano wristwatch, that will run “micro apps” and interact with other devices via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
The company, as its name insinuates, will not be developing and marketing products to consumers directly, but instead opening their micro-app platform to third-party developers to embed in their products, transforming them into wearable computers.
The initial device will be waterproof and feature a 1.4-inch capacitive touch screen, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, magnetometer and accelerometer. However, the most powerful innovation pioneered by WiMM is the use of Android for the embedded OS, which will allow third-party developers to design so-called micro apps that don’t require a Smartphone to perform advanced computational tasks.
“WiMM Labs integrates information into your daily life in the form of useful, subtle glances”, said WiMM CEO Dave Mooring in a statement. In response to comments regarding the devices resemblance to an iPod Nano, Mooring was dismissive, insisting WiMM’s device is not comparable because it was designed from square one with wearable computing as the central objective.
Imagine receiving a text message on your phone in your jacket pocket, but instead of having to take the phone out, unlock the screen and open the text, you could just glance at your wristwatch where it has been automatically transmitted via Bluetooth. This would certainly minimize the rapidly rising rudeness factor brought about by our constantly distracted Smartphone obsessed culture and, if MiMM Labs’ vision plays out, be the future of wearable computing.
WiMM chose wisely adopting a Platform as a Service (PaaS) business model, demonstrating the company’s founders have a very mature vision for developing a micro app platform. Licensing the technology to third party developers will allow WiMM to focus on cultivating a vibrant developer ecosystem, which will (hopefully) stimulate consumer adoption and the creation of new sustainable businesses.
If successfully implemented, micro apps would add a new layer of potential value in the mHealth ecosystem for nearly all stakeholders. It is still far too early in the evolution of the sector to state with any degree of certainty which technologies/companies will have staying power and which technologies/companies will join BetaMax and HD-DVD in the deadpool five years from now. However, one technology in the mobile device space we can state with confidence will be a market leader for decades to come is Google’s Android operating system, thus WiMM has positioned itself to quickly come to market and instantly pose a threat to competitors.
One competitor that should pay close attention to WiMM’s tactics is Zephyr Technologies. The recent deal struck between Zephyr and AT&T to embed the cellular company’s 3G/4G technology directly in the wearable sensors gives Zephyr a definitive advantage over all competitors in the wearable computer space. By embedding Android in their devices MiMM has done well to distinguish itself from Zephyr, but until they can land a deal of their own with a major provider it is going to be very difficult to find buyers for devices the company anticipates to be sold for between $200-$2000 by third party licensees.
The videos below profile WiMM Labs’ wearable computing platform.