Health is wealth -- or, so the saying goes. To take stock in how we take care of ourselves, new technology that we wear has emerged. This wearable technology is equipped with sensors which monitor and track vitals and this information can be used to help us make better decisions in how we take care of ourselves and each other. 

Aiming to improve personal health through fitness, Onyx Motion has built a digital coaching app which helps users play like an experienced athlete. The Android Wear app uses the accelerometer of the smartwatch to monitor how you play and then provides you with valuable insights and recommendations to help you improve. Marissa Wu, co-founder and CEO, admits to the challenges of the wearable tech industry. “There are well-funded, established competitors like Samsung, Apple, and Jawbone, and then there are some disruptive innovators like Thalmic Labs and Nymi. The landscape is constantly changing as a result, and keeping pace with both hardware and software is extremely difficult.” However, by serving end users and customers with best in class software and partnering with hardware innovators, Onyx is well on their way to being at the forefront of the next generation of wearable apps (starting with the Next Gen Den). 

Kitchener-based Thalmic Labs, co-founded by The Next 36 alum Stephen Lake, has developed the Myo gesture control armband to revolutionize the way we interact with technology. The Myo is a revolutionary tool in a variety of sectors including medicine. The Myo has shown considerable promise for hands-free interaction in environments that require sterility and precision to increase healthcare quality and mitigate risks, like in-surgery contamination

By leveraging users’ unique heartbeat signature, Nymi seeks to solve problems associated with identity recognition. The technology has huge implications not only for forgetful drivers who lock their keys in their car, but across multiple sectors--including healthcare. The ability for healthcare practitioners to access data more quickly in sterile environments, notifying a healthcare professional of irregularities in heart beat, and making hospital admissions seamless are just a few examples, but the possibilities are endless.

At the Next 36 Wearable Tech Hackathon last Fall, five McMaster students built TipsyLock by integrating the Nymi’s authentication technology with the brain-wave sensing Muse. TipsyLock effectively prohibits drunk drivers from accessing their vehicles by detecting the state of mind of the driver using the Muse headband and then basing authentication via the Nymi on whether the driver is sober enough to proceed. Janelle Hinds, who worked on TipsyLock, says that wearables can help us to “better understand the state of one's mind and body and use that information to both make society safer and help people complete tasks more efficiently.”

Making society better, especially for the ageing population, is the mission of Sensassure, a smart incontinence management system. Sensassure’s system works with any commercial brief to bring peace of mind to indviduals and caregivers by ensuring that the briefs are changed when they need to be. Its sensors measure the brief’s moisture threshold and then sends this information to the cloud when alerts are triggered. The Next 36 grad with a vision to be the top aging tech provider in the world. Sameer Dhar, co-founder and CEO, believes that wearable tech is “key to providing individuals and institutions with data that can transform the way care is delivered, resulting in better patient outcomes, dignity, and allowing the elderly to stay at home longer.” 

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This post was written by Ainsleigh Burelle, Marketing Coordinator at the Next 36. The Next 36 is a national entrepreneurial leadership initiative that is transforming Canada’s most promising students into high-impact entrepreneurs. The Next Founders is searching for their 2015 cohort. Learn more at www.thenextfounders.ca.

Photo credit: Billy Lee of Belight

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