The wearable tech revolution won’t be like the Apple Watch

“Fitbit, Apple and Samsung have set this expectation of what a wearable can doand I think Movano, Oura and other companies are going to redefine that over time.”

This is according to Stacy Salvi. She is Vice President of Strategy at a health-focused technology company Movano and has seen first-hand how wearables have changed, having recently switched to wearable tech pioneer Fitbit after 15 years. In an interview with Digital Trends, she spoke about how smart jewelry — and advances in sensor technology in particular — will drive wearables forward in the near future.

Portable Revolution

“I think the role of the wearable is evolving,” Salvi told us. “What we want it for and what we use it for is only now really becoming clear. We are still in the early stages, but people are seeing real health benefits from wearables† and if [health tracking] gets better and better, [wearables are] will mean something else. As utility and experience evolve, the way we think about it will change.”

Stacy Salvi, Vice President of Strategy at Movano.
Stacy Salvi, Vice President of Strategy at Movano

Salvi’s experience with one of the best-known wearable technology brands gives her a strong insight into the industry, but she started her journey into the world of wearables in a somewhat unusual way.

“I joined Fitbit as the fourth attorney on the team,” she explained, “but personally I wanted to move to the corporate side for a very long time. I liked being a lawyer there, but I wanted to contribute more to the development of Fitbit.” the company and the product strategy. About five years after I started, I was front and center of the Google transaction, and eventually when that happened, I moved over to the product team. I have seen the company from every angle.”

watch wrist

Being so closely associated with wearable technology, she looked with interest at what was happening with wearables in the real world, and this is where she saw things change.

“I wore a Fitbit for about nine years.” she laughed and admitted that she often notices people’s wrist wear, and over time she saw people’s relationship with wearables change.

A close-up of a person's arm while using a Fitbit Sense.
Fitbit Sense

“I went to Disneyland around 2016,” she recalls, “and I noticed everyone was wearing a Fitbit, and a year or so later I started seeing more Apple Watches† Then, in my gym, people who once always wore a Fitbit, when they bought a new phone, turned into an Apple Watch.

This shift in preference has continued. Between early 2021 and early 2022, Fitbit’s smartwatch market share fell from 4.1% to 2.7%, while the Apple Watch steadily remained the market leader at about 36% (according to data from Counterpoint Research

Smart jewelry is the next wearable evolution

However, Movano does not compete directly with Apple, Fitbit or any smartwatch maker. The first product will be a smart ring for women, and Salvi explained why smart jewelry in general is proof of wearable evolution.

“I don’t necessarily think there’s a place for a screen on every wearable,” she said. “Some people want to wear a traditional watch, and some people just have screen fatigue. We can see that wearables go from fitness to health† The health and [smart] jewelry story makes a lot of sense because you get so much more than just a notification. In five years, [wearables] will be different as sensor technology evolves and becomes more sophisticated.”

Movano ring.  Credits: Movano official.
Movano ring Movano official.

It was Movano’s work in chip technology that drew Salvi to the company, and in May Movano announced it was successfully proprietary, in-house system-on-a-chip (SoC) ready for the upcoming smart ring. It’s unusual for the chip to use radio frequency (RF) technology and not an optical sensor like you find on most wearables today. According to the company, this brings several important benefits, including the signal not affected by skin pigmentation or bone, and the ability to non-invasively monitor blood pressure and blood glucose levels.

Outside of technology, design is arguably just as important for a piece of jewelry as it is for a smartwatch.

“Jewelry, like music, is very specific,” she agreed. “You can’t predict what someone is going to like. It’s a balance, its usefulness and making an irresistible product from the user’s perspective, and making something that fits one’s style sensibility.”

Getting the user experience right

The technology and design of Movano’s smart ring are just the beginning. During our conversation, Salvi referred to the importance of the overall user experience. Her understanding of creating what she called “a unique, thoughtful and valuable user experience” started when she worked with Google at Fitbit.

A taste of Movano's smart ring app.
A taste of the Movano app Movano

“It really helped me define what that user experience is, and that’s what we’re looking for,” she said. “What we’re working on is a user experience that will really hold her back in the long run because the longer she’s with us, the more health benefits she’ll see.”

Rather than just showing the data, Movano plans to link its platform to specific insights so that there is always a link between daily health events and the wearer. Running parallel to the user experience is Movano’s commitment to making the smart ring an attractive product for women.

“It will be aimed at women and we are looking for medical grade components. This puts the health focus at the forefront. It is also important to make it as reasonably priced as possible, and when designing our products from scratch taking privacy into account is also something we will invest in. We will be working with many women, talking to them and thinking about their changing needs during their life stages from the very beginning.”

The company was founded on the core belief that good health is a fundamental human right.

Movano attaches great importance to privacy. In a general statement posted on the Instagram page of the brand, the company said the company was founded on the core belief that good health is a fundamental human right, including a woman’s right to choose. Salvi elaborated on this:

“Part of my legal background helps me see from a privacy perspective what we want to do, how we’re going to do it, and how we want to talk to people to help them understand our service and the overall experience. † As we pursue FDA approval: [for the smart ring]we will be subject to health data rules, and that will always be at the heart of designing our systems.”

Coming in 2023

Movano unveiled his smart ringcurrently simply called the Movano Ring, at CES 2022. But the company has been in business since 2018. The Movano Ring is aimed at consumers, but goes beyond fitness-tracking wearables with medical technology and an ambitious set of data points, including heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), body temperature, blood oxygen levels and possibly blood glucose and blood pressure.

The ring is currently beta tested and the company is in the process of obtaining FDA approval, a requirement for medical devices sold in the US. Salvi said the Movano Ring will be available in the first half of 2023. primary competitor is the Oura ringwhich is aimed at both men and women, along with the soon to be released Round smart ring

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