It may have started as a niche passion for obsessive gym bunnies and extreme narcissists, but wearable technology has most definitely entered the mainstream.
In fact, with emerging tech research company IDTechEx forecasting that the wearable electronics business will grow from $20 billion in 2015 to almost $70 billion in 2025, the toughest question is identifying which of the many digitally-enhanced baubles with breathless pitches will make an actual difference to your life.
The team behind doppel (obligatory lowercase warning), currently raising funds on Kickstarter, are hoping to stand out. Their minimalist wristband (which looks a little like a 50 Shades of Grey special edition Swatch) promises to “help you naturally ‘set your pace’ via heartbeat pulse technology”.
Sound too good to be true? If anyone can do it, they can; the four founders boast a seriously impressive skillset incorporating physics, engineering and design, and it’s refreshing to find that two of them are women, an anomaly in the tech startup space.
We sat down with Bemondsey-based Team Turquoise to discuss why ’emotionally intelligent’ wearables really are about to change the (and our) game.
What does doppel do, in one sentence?
Doppel naturally gives you control over how alert or relaxed you are, on demand.
If we had a doppel right now, how would it make our day better?
You would be able to keep going and stay focused during the afternoon lull, remain calm and in control during a high pressure presentation and more effectively wind down in the evening for sleep. Essentially you would have more control over your state and be more focused or calmer dependent on your needs.
Doesn’t it just taking us further away from awareness of our bodies, by mediating our natural responses?
No, it IS a natural response. doppel provides an external pulse that gives you a similar natural response as we have to music and, importantly, gives you control over that stimulus. It does not automatically turn itself on by ‘sensing’ whether or not you need it, you decide that you want a certain response and turn it on.
What were your inspirations for the design?
The design has been through countless iterations and there are three main aspects. Firstly, honesty. doppel has a direct effect on us, we opened up the motor so you could see the workings and know what it was doing.
Secondly, watch design. Wearable technology needs to find a balance between function and fashion and this interface has been honed for hundreds of years by watch makers. So we looked to that heritage for guidance.
Thirdly, but most importantly, people. doppel works with how people work, from the underlying science to the final design. This is seen in the interactions, which are derived from observed habits; stroking to calm down, squeezing to invigorate and the well understood turn of a dial to raise or lower the intensity.
Most overrated piece of technology?
Fitness trackers. The evidence suggests they do very little to help motivate or maintain fitness and they stress people out! Also, your phone is actually better at tracking movement.
Most underrated piece of technology?
Does the human body count? We think people are amazing and enabling people to get what they want from themselves is at the core of what we do. But if we must go for manmade technology we would say music.
Did you know that runners can get a 15% performance increase from the beat of music? If it was a drug it would be banned without question. It can calm us down or excite us, make us happy, make us sad, evoke memories, tell a story and more. doppel gives one part of that (calming or exciting), but does it in a way that is discrete and not distracting. That means it can be used anywhere, any time, during any activity and with control by the user. Music is wonderful in many ways but can be a little distracting!
What’s your one piece of advice to anyone thinking of creating a startup?
Have a BIG dream. It is a very difficult journey (we are still in the early days ourselves) and so it’s only worth it if you are pursuing something really worthwhile.
Words: Molly Flatt