Wearable tech market gets patents, funding as Nike shies away

data visualization rainbow eye close 3A new category comes to SiliconANGLE’s Smart World Series – Smart Health.  This issue will focus on how the Internet of Things is reshaping people’s health with innovative wearable devices and applications, as well as its impact on the healthcare industry.

This week’s Smart Health issue features Google’s smart contact lens, which has taken a step closer to reality, a smart baby monitor that receives a hefty funding round, and a well-known manufacturer that may soon turn away from the wearable tech market.

Google’s smart contacts for diabetics granted patents


Diabetes is no longer considered as a ‘disease of the wealthy’ regions, with the International Diabetes Federation reporting that by the year 2035, people with diabetes will come from the low and middle income countries.

The alarming rate at which diabetes is spreading has prompted researchers to find ways to make diabetes more manageable.

In January, Google revealed that it is working on smart contact lens which will have embedded sensors to make blood glucose monitoring less painful for people with diabetes, and it looks like Google may be a step closer to bringing this technology to market.

Last week, the search giant was awarded a patent entitled Microelectrodes In An Ophthalmic Electrochemical Sensor, which describes a transparent, eye-mountable device or contact lens embedded with flexible sensors and antenna.  The sensors are designed to interact with human tear fluid to determine a number of health-related factors.

“Human tear fluid contains a variety of inorganic electrolytes (e.g., Ca.sup.2+, Mg.sup.2+, Cl.sup.-), organic solutes (e.g., glucose, lactate, etc.), proteins, and lipids. A contact lens with one or more sensors that can measure one or more of these components provides a convenient non-invasive platform to diagnose or monitor health related problems. An example is a glucose sensing contact lens that can potentially be used for diabetic patients to monitor and control their blood glucose level,” the patent reads.

This is just one of Google’s project that involves contact lenses.  The tech giant is also looking to embed a camera into a smart contact lens, as evidenced by another patent Google filed.  The patent describes the ability to capture photos just by blinking.  Though this is quite interesting, it is expected to draw more security concerns should Google officially unveil it.

Owlet raises $1.85M in funding


One of a parent’s worst nightmares is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or the unexpected death of their infant.  SIDS doesn’t have any warning signs, but one study may have found a link between breathing problems, such as sleep apnea, and SIDS, but until experts have determined what really causes it and how to prevent it, parents can only rely on baby monitors to help them sleep at night.

Source: OwletCare.com

Source: OwletCare.com

Thanks to advancements in technology and the Internet of Things, new products have come out, or are in development, making it easier for parents to monitor their infant even when they are away. Because of this, interest in investing in these new types of monitors have increased.  Last year, smart anklet baby monitor Sproutling raised $2.6 million in funding from First Round Capital, Forerunner Ventures, FirstMark Capital, Accelerator Ventures, Lemnos Labs, BoxGroup (David Tisch) and Shawn Fanning.  Rest Devices Inc., the company that brought us the smart onesie Mimo, also raised $1.3 million in a seed funding led by The Experiment Fund with the participation of angel investors including Koa Labs’ Andy Palmer, Nuland & Arshad Inc. and others.

Now, another smart baby monitor has caught investors’ eyes, as VentureWire reports that Owlet Baby Care Inc. has raised $1.85 million in seed funding led by branding and marketing agency R/GA and Techstars, with the participation of Azimuth Ventures, Life Sciences Angel Network, Peak Ventures, Eniac Ventures , ff Ventures, Brand Band Project, and angel investors such as John Ason who was an early investor in Diapers.com.

The round of funding will be used to meet its targeted shipping date which will be at the end of Summer 2014.

Nike to abandon wearable tech market


What started as a rumor in Secret, an app that allows the anonymous sharing of information, has been confirmed. Nike has revealed that it will be laying off some of its employees, particularly those involved in Digital Sport, the team which focuses on industrial design, manufacturing operations, electrical and mechanical hardware engineering and software interface design. However, Nike did not specify which employees in particular will be getting the boot.

“As a fast-paced, global business we continually align resources with business priorities,” Nike spokesman Brian Strong said. “As our Digital Sport priorities evolve, we expect to make changes within the team, and there will be a small number of layoffs. We do not comment on individual employment matters.”

The post on Secret read, “The douchebag execs at Nike are going to lay off a bunch of the eng team who developed the FuelBand, and other Nike+ stuff. Mostly because the execs committed gross negligence, wasted tons of money, and didn’t know what they were doing.”

A source stated that Digital Sport has 70 employees and Nike will be laying off 70 to 80 percent of that team or about 55 people, with some staying with the company until May.

Nike is expected to release a slimmer version of FuelBand, but decided to can the plan when sales of the fitness tracker weren’t as high as they wanted.  Nike may not abandoning the wearable tech market as a whole, but it appears its focus has shifted from hardware to software.

As for Nike’s existing wearable tech including the second-generation FuelBand SE, Strong stated that it remains an important part of Nike and the company will continue to support the accompanying app, Nike+ FuelBand app, launch new METALUXE colors, and sell and support the fitness band in the foreseeable future.

photo credit: Lucee. via photopin cc