Akseli Reho is the founder and CEO of the Finnish wearable sensor pioneer Clothing+. With a M.Sc. degree in telecommunications, Mr. Reho has been an active member in the wearables community since 1998 and his work has been instrumental in bridging the gap between electronics and textiles in manufacturing. Under his direction Clothing+ has been mass-producing millions of textile-integrated wearable sensors since 2002 and continues to make an ever greater impact on the sports and medical markets. Smithers Apex interviewed Reho to get his thoughts on growth potentials, user experience, and what he's most looking foward to at Smart Fabrics & Wearable Technology 2014.
In your opinion, what are the most exciting developments when it comes to Smart Fabrics and Wearables and where do you see the higher potential for growth?
One of the most exciting trends we see is the possibilities comfortable, textile-integrated sensors can have on a low-threshold adoptability of home healthcare systems. Self-monitoring and long-term patient history are one of the best potential ways to solve the global problem of the unbearable fixed costs of public healthcare. There's also the mixing of the fitness/wellbeing segment with what was previously thought of as medical instruments. People want more data and the most interesting data is that about themselves.
Where do you see the biggest opportunities for a more integrated supply chain and synchronized technology developments with a holistic user experience in mind?
The supply chain as well as the whole market of wearable technology is developing very organically. The technology is already there, but for sales to take off we're still short of a killer product to create pull for the category. A mass market of wearable technology will not begin with dedicated retail channels, but will adapt to existing channels. Likewise the long-term killer app won't be an additional device like a heart rate strap or a head-worn gadget, but will integrate into something already established, like garments.
You will be covering forgettable sensors as part of your talk - without giving away too much of your presentation, can you tell us what role do sensors play in the garment as a technology hub concept?
Garments serve as the perfect base to integrate technology into. People are in contact with textiles virtually 24/7 in clothing, furniture and bed linen. Its touch is natural to our skin and thus a perfect medium to interface our biosignals.
You have been a long standing participant of the Smart Fabrics (now Smart Fabrics and Wearable Technology) - can you share with new comers to the event why you come back every year and what makes the event such a unique networking and learning opportunity?
Smart Fabrics and Wearable Technology has long been a great marketing and even sales medium for Clothing+ for the audience it gathers. This is where we as a supplier and manufacturer meet and address potential customers, present our company and products and convey the message that textile-integrated sensors are available in mass-production right now.