Toronto is quickly becoming a leader in the wearable technology industry, and is home to several innovative start-ups that have been very active in this field. In particular, there has been a focus on using wearable technology in relation to fitness and medical needs, with biometrics being a primary indicator.
To support this activity, Toronto has seen a rise in several organizations aimed at raising awareness regarding the conversation around wearable technology. FashionTech Toronto, for example, is “a platform to connect innovators and leaders in the fashion and tech fields”, and hosts multiple meet-ups to facilitate this interaction. Electric Runway, which originally started as “a wearable technology runway show curated for the Maker Festival in Toronto” has now grown into an international brand and expanded to hosting speaking engagements, consulting, and creating public engagement through their considerable online presence. We Are Wearables also has an active Toronto chapter and has a mission to “foster adoption and facilitate innovation in wearable tech by providing a platform for the entrepreneurs, start-ups and organizations who are already making this happen and a place for those new to the space to be inspired to take action.”
As such, it is no surprise that Toronto start-ups have recognized the flourishing wearable technology community and have begun creating innovative designs in response. Blue Block Glasses serves as a prime example. The Toronto-based start-up gave Team Canada’s freestyle skiers 30 pairs of Somnitude eyewear before the team went to PyeongChang for the 2018 Winter Olympics. The company recognized that athletes need a significant amount of rest in order to perform well; however, the common presence of blue light in daily lives (from phones and other screens) has the potential to significantly impact sleeping patterns. If the glasses are worn a few hours before bed, it helps supress melatonin, which is the hormone that induces sleep. Due to the delay that is caused by the suppression, there is a shift in the circadian phase of sleep to later in the night, which allows athletes (or others with similar lifestyles) to overcome jetlag much more quickly.
Nymi is another disruptive Toronto start-up, being the first wearable technology to actually identify users by using their heartbeat. This identification allows their heartbeat to act as a passcode to connect to computers, phones, smart office technology, and possibly driverless cars in the future. Furthermore, the start-up partnered with MasterCard and is working on a method of completing a credit card transaction using the heartbeat indicator.
Of course, all of these applications have legal implications in relation to intellectual property, privacy, etc. and have to comply with related regulations. So, the question becomes, are our regulations well-equipped to deal with this new wave of technology, or do we need to think more critically about updates?