Canada's Taken Charge of Innovation in Wearables
Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa - 3 cities you could visit in one day...driving in a car! But they're close in more ways than just distance. Each of these cities boasts a growing Hardware Startup and Wearables Community where entrepreneurs, startups and established companies are jumping head first into the growing wearables industry.
This growth has lead to 10 Canadian hardware startups based on wearable technology
Some of these wearable startups have become industry-leaders and others have grown obsolete. Discover each of these wearable startups below:
With so much exchange of information in this digital era, security and identity authentication have become important concerns. And sometimes passwords, just don't cut-it. That's why Nymi, a spin-off from the University of Toronto, is using electrocardiogram technology to identify the unique signature of the wearer.
Over the past four years, Nymi has received over $15M in funding and found a niche in pharmaceutical workplaces, now working with 20 of the world's leading pharma companies across Europe, North America, and Asia.
Out of Toronto, InteraXon Inc. has created Muse, the brain sensing headband. Worn around the forehead, it boasts to enhance the brain’s fitness, resulting in a calmer, more composed mind.
The headband works through electroencephalography (EEG), the measurement of brain waves, measuring four types of brainwaves generated by the brain and giving the user auditory feedback when it senses that the brain has become distracted. Essentially, this is the tool for high-tech meditation.
Push, is a Toronto based wearable Strength tracker that optimizes training by analyzing and tracking movement at the gym. After a successful Crowdfunding Campaign that surpassed the project goal by 160% in 2014, Push has become an industry leader in professional sports wearables.
The device ($399) is a simple armband that measures the acceleration and velocity of a user lifting weights or performing exercises, the output is synced to a phone and accompanying app. From this data, the app can direct the user’s work-out, according to the principles of velocity-based training.
Hexoskin, is a Montreal smart clothing company, developing shirts with integrated biometric textile sensors. The shirts make contact with the skin and relay biometric data to a bluetooth unit that records cardiac, respiratory, sleep and activities.
Since launching in 2014, Hexoskin has grown to become a leader in wearable smart garments.Their connected hardware system is used by health professionals, first responders and customers across the globe. A true Canadian hardware startup success story.
iMerciv, is a University of Toronto startup focused on helping people with vision loss navigate their physical environment. The wearable gadget called "BuzzClip" acts as the iconic white cane - providing haptic feedback to users via a buzz that can be felt through the skin.
Over the past several years, iMerciv has received several sources of funding including a $100K Telus Pitch competition, $63K from Crowdfunding, a $30K grand and most recently received Microsft's "AI for Accessibility Grand". So far over 3000 units have been sold through a network of distributors in North America and Europe.
NeuroTracker - a Montreal based hardware startup is using a wearable device plus video games to improve athletic performance. The wearable eyewear plus on-screen software system helps train peripheral vision systems and enhance multiple object tracking. The technology was spun out of the University of Montreal's "Faubert Lab" and is backed by over 40 academic reports and 50+ patents.
Over 550 elite training facilities have adopted Neurotracker including UK Soccer Club "Manchester Untied" who spent $80,000 to install a Neurotracker training facility. Professional athletes from across golfing, basketball, boxing, football, tennis, soccer, and hockey have all adopted Neurtracker and realized cognitive gains and athletic improvements.
Canadian Wearable Startups That Failed
Not every Canadian wearable hardware startup has been successful. Over the past five years, several funded startups began gaining market traction but failed for a variety of reasons including funding, competition, and hostile takeovers.
#7) Gesture Logic - Wearable Fitness Band
GestureLogic, is an Ottawa based startup that has developed a wearable fitness device called LEO that directly monitors muscle and other anatomic activity. Similar to other innovative wearable fitness trackers, LEO was propelled into product development following a successful Crowdfunding campaign that raised 3x the initial project goal of $50K.
8) Pebble - Original Smart Watch
Pebble is a smartwatch famous for setting a Kickstarter funding record of $10.3M in 2012. And while the company is based in Palo Alto, CA – Pebble has deep Canadian roots, with the founder hailing from Vancouver and the first generation Pebble called InPulse originating in Waterloo,ON.
For four years, Pebble was the industry-leader in Smart Watches. This all changed when Fitbit and Apple watch released their smartwatches. The demise of Pebble was quick. Fitbit acquired them in 2016, discontinuing Pebble production and in November 2019, Google acquired Fitbit.
#9) Gymtrack - Gym Equipment Tracking
Gymtrack is an Ottawa wearables startup that is leading the charge in the wearable fitness revolution. But, instead of targeting individuals like many bracelet fitness trackers do - Gymtrack is geared towards health clubs and gyms looking to keep members motivated and engaged.
The Gymtrack system works by installing sensors on existing gym equipment, eliminating the need for members to manually track workouts. Instead they members wear a simple bracelet and workouts are automatically recorded to the Gymtrack system – allowing personal trainers and users to monitor their workouts and build customized plans to achieve their goals.
10) Recon Jet - Biking app
Recon Jet is the latest heads-up display from Recon, a Vancouver-based company – the same one that came out with Snow2, the smart ski goggles. Similar to their first product, Jet provides the user with the information that curious athletes seek: speed, power, vertical ascent and distance. Furthermore, with connectivity through Bluetooth, WIFI and ANT+, it’s possible to access social apps, some training apps and even maps, should the user want them. These glasses claim to be next season’s secret weapon, but hopefully for Recon, they aren’t TOO secret.
OMsignal hails from Montreal has incorporated biometric sensors into exercise apparel with the vision of allowing the user to monitor their performance and thereby track their progress. The product ($249) will cater to the ever growing fitness market and provide real-time feedback on the body's performance including heat rate, physical intensity, calories burned and breathing rate. And while still in their infancy, OMsignal plans to expand their technology into a platform for the development of smart clothing products.
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