WiseWear’s been thinking big from the start, but it’s gearing up for more.
The company began with aspirations in the digital health care space, which is what served as the impetus for its first product in the form of smart jewelry. That earned it the nickname by some in the marketplace of a fancy Fitbit along with a retail account in Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship New York store.
The San Antonio-based company dubs itself a boutique engineering firm that makes connected consumer health care devices tracking calories, steps, calls and texts. What sets it apart is a distress message feature for wearers that sends out alerts to pre-loaded emergency contacts and the company’s now in the process of creating a whole suite of security devices, chief executive officer and founder Jerry Wilmink said during a presentation in Las Vegas for CES 2017.
The company makes its own wearables but also partners with brands to help them develop their own products from design to development.
This year is expected to be a big one for WiseWear, which was bootstrapped at the time of its 2013 launch and has since raised $6 million from investors and is now, as Wilmink said, “moving forward with the next phase.”
That includes the launch of the Iris Apfel x WiseWear collection and the international expansion of the brand this year. The company’s also working with a luxury partner in the fine jewelry space. The aspirations are for applications beyond consumers, with Wilmink pointing out the technology could have uses by the Department of Defense and the Socialite collection, sold at Saks, could be developed for medical uses. There’s also softer versions of its product being developed, aimed at seniors with thinner skin.
Current market conditions make it a good time to do so, Wilmink said.
The intersection of the physical and digital worlds coming together have been pushed by factors such as sensors, connectivity and big data that have led to advancements with drones, artificial intelligence and 3-D printing, he said.
Wearables have moved from connected pedometers to what he called the “gift-wrap era” in which tech firms tapped designers to dress up their tech and make it relevant to the masses. The future, the ceo said, is about smart design that layers even smarter technology inside of something like jewelry.
“For the last hundreds of years, we focused on the end,” Wilmink said, adding the aim of any sensing device should be four things: prevent, predict, personalize and participate. In other words, “treating wellness rather than treating disease,” Wilmink said.