"As Long as There Are No Capes, Wearables Can Only Improve Human Health"

Really enjoying this posting from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Blog of President Travis Mcreedy.  We had an amazing meeting last week, and he runs an awesome organization Massachusetts Life Sciences which is well worth checking out as tech, life sciences, the body and designer all increasingly intersect and drive innovation.  But I will let his writing tell you!

From the Massachusetts Life Sciences Blog
By Travis Mcreedy.

"This past week, I met Edna.  Well, in fact, I met four Ednas, and one of them is a man.

For those of you not familiar with the 2004 Disney animated film The Incredibles, Edna was one of the most memorable characters, responsible for providing all the superheroes with their high-tech kit.  Imagine if Versace and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) could somehow have a child, it would be Edna – designer of high-tech, smart fabrics that functionally enhance human performance that are, equally, human-centered and haute couture.  As someone with children who are equal parts athlete, geek, and fashionista, I am not ashamed to say that meeting four real life Ednas was exceptionally cool.

Yuly Fuentes-Medel, Julianne Gauron, Yolita Nugent, and Adam Whiton are among the avant-garde of “convergence” innovators – capable scientists on the cutting edge, who mash together computer/data science, biology, engineering, and the arts – targeting wearables as a vector for enhancing human performance.  Between the four, they have worked with organizations such as North Face, New Balance, and TJX.  A latest project for the US Department of Defense was to redesign infantry’s “ballistic combat shirt” with properties that are flame retardant,  withstand small arms fire…and are more comfortable and lighter to wear than a soldier’s current kit.

Mses. Fuentes-Medel, Gauron, Nugent and Messr. Whiton envision wearables as an extension of the human nervous system – a complex, human-centric technology that senses, takes in data, analyzes that data, then reacts.  This approach requires fundamentally rethinking not only science, but also fashion, textiles and manufacturing.  The possibilities in the health care context are endless…and Massachusetts, with its ‘digital health’, life sciences, and manufacturing expertise, is poised to lead the way.  Local companies like MC10 out of Lexington are recognized leaders in developing flexible electronic fabrics for health care uses, including everything from hydration monitoring and head impact measuring to biodegradable implants.  And the community will only get stronger with this summer’s addition of multibillion dollar wearables giant Flextronics International to the Boston Innovation District.

“Life sciences” is more than just biotech, pharma and drugs.  At the MLSC, our mandate covers the medical device, diagnostics and bioinformatics sectors as well, and having such subsector diversity contributes to our unique, strong and resilient life sciences ecosystem. It would appear that in this diversity, we have all the ingredients to innovate and lead in medical, human-centric wearables. According to health thinktank Rock Health, Massachusetts has the fourth most vibrant digital health sector in the US. Phillips, and its Internet of Things (IoT)/Wearables division have a large presence in Massachusetts, along with medical device leaders Johnson & Johnson, Boston Scientific, Hologic, and Medtronic and health IT juggernaut IBM Watson Health.  Researchers at our medical institutions like Mass. Eye and Ear, Boston Children’s, and Harvard Medical School are also exploring wearables and how to deliver hard to administer drugs to better ensure patient adherence.  And let’s not forget that this spring, Massachusetts was named as the headquarters for the $317MM public-private Revolutionary Fiber and Textile Manufacturing Innovation Institute.

As Edna from The Incredibles said, “I never look back, darling.  It distracts from the now.”  And right now, Massachusetts is experiencing a wearable tech moment."