The Maryland/Israel Development Center is bringing together companies involved in data, fitness and health care to examine opportunities in wearable technology. The Tuesday, Feb. 17 event will feature presentations by Under Armour, Johns Hopkins University and the Israeli embassy.
“As technology gets smaller and smaller, we’re all carrying around computers with us in the forms of our phones. The same technology is being put in wristwatches; they can put it in necklaces,” said Steve Brooks, chief innovation officer at Sage Growth Partners, who is moderating a discussion at the event. He also serves as co-chair of the MIDC’s life sciences committee. “There really is a race to enter this field.”
For Sage Growth Partners, a health care firm, the interest is in measuring health indicators in real time to get baseline readings on overall health, get pre-emptive warnings about risks and measure disease states. For other emerging issues, such as aging in place, putting sensors in homes can detect movement and possible emergencies such as falling.
“It’s putting sensors in places they’ve never been and having real-time ability to monitor,” Brooks said.
Under Armour is already utilizing wearables.
“Under Armour Connected Fitness is the world’s largest health and fitness community, reaching approximately 120 million registered users,” Mike Maglin, general manager of Under Armour’s digital product, said via email. “It is an open platform that is device (wearable) agnostic and brings together data from hundreds of devices that share into the Under Armour platform of digital apps including UA Record, MapMyFitness, Endomondo and MyFitnessPal.”
And like Sage Growth Partners, Under Armour looked to Israel for wearable technology.
“The Israeli market is fantastic,” Brooks said. “There is some brilliant technology coming out of there. It’s so innovative, and they have such big support from the government.”
In the fourth quarter of 2014, Under Armour hosted its annual “Future Show,” which focuses on using digital technology to make athletes better. Maglin said there was a strong showing from Israeli companies, and Under Armour is continuing to explore those relationships.
The quicker this technology develops, the more vulnerabilities can present themselves. Avi Rubin, professor of computer science and Johns Hopkins University and technical director of the university’s Information Security Institute, will be on hand to discuss security issues.
“I’m going to talk a little bit about security for embedded devices and why the proliferation of ‘the Internet of things’ has led to increased security risks,” he said. “Everything from the thermostat to the refrigerator gets an IP address. You have devices being built somewhat experimentally that are being sold and developed more quickly than there is the ability to analyze their security.”
He said that often these devices can be used to proliferate attacks against other systems and leave the attacker more hidden. While the Israeli market moves faster, Rubin thinks the country might be more aware of these issues.
“I think that Israeli companies, just because of the nature of life in Israel, tend to be more focused on security than Americans, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to deal with the same issues,” he said.
MIDC chairman Rob Frier sees the threats and the opportunities in the technology.
“It’s a really interesting connection in hacking, security, Israeli companies and wearables,” he said. “It’s a really nice blend of related technologies.”
Anat Katz, commercial attaché for the Embassy of Israel will also speak about wearable technology being developed in Israel.
⇢ MIDC’s “Wearable Technology” is from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17 at Sage Growth Partners, 3500 Boston St., Suite 435, Baltimore. Free for members, $25 for nonmembers. Visit marylandisrael.org/wearables.