OM Signal – Smart Clothes to monitor our wellbeing
Our phones are smart; many of our watches are smart as well. And very soon our clothes will be smart, too. Artificial Intelligence is already changing the way we live our lives, and every day we get more familiar with its full potential. OM Signal, a technological company located in Montreal, Canada, produces hardware and software for companies to integrate A.I. into their clothes, enabling people (and companies) to collect valuable data to enhance the understanding of biological imperatives and to implement new habits to suit healthy and better lifestyles.
In this interview, OM Signal’s CEO Fred Chanay will share with us some of the most interesting features OM Signal is introducing to the market.
What inspired you to start OM Signal – Why did you decide to enter the world of A.I.?
Fred Chanay: It initially began as I’ve always wanted to see how I could contribute to society’s well being. My first startup was a healthcare startup based in Boston, looking at how people monitored their health conditions. We noticed monitoring your own health wasn’t as straightforward, efficient and understandable from the comfort of your own home.
How exactly does the technology work?
We use three fundamental blocks. We have bio-sensors which have been embedded into the textile – we have different technology for that depending on the context – the signal is sent to the little box (module) attached to the clothes and finally the module sends the data to the phone using Bluetooth which is transmitted to the Cloud.
Was the initial objective to provide your technology for the sports industry? And would you see your technology expanding into other sectors as well?
I would say that, we started in sportswear because, its easy to reiterate our technology and there is an eager, early adopter market for it, so its definitely enticing for us to answer that need. Also we don’t sell direct to consumer: we work as a B2B (Business to Business) platform for organisations that choose technology products and services. Most of our customers today are in the health and wellness space.
What we do is we provide our customers with what we call the cloud architecture, we then develop products and services on top of that. In some cases that could be sports that include products & services and in some cases there are wellness or healthcare.
Since your customers are larger companies, who are their customers?
We are focusing on sports wellness and healthcare use cases. We work with companies in those spaces and then they develop products to sell under their own brand. Some of them give the product as part of affiliation programs, other may use it in care management for people with chronic conditions: they give the product to patients and collect data. The main goal in this case is to prevent hospitalization and the impact on the quality of life is in tremendous.
Is your technology user friendly? Do you need special training to start using it?
You have to connect the box to your phone. So it’s like any other Bluetooth device. If you’ve done this once, then its fairly easy to understand. We’re also working on a model where everything goes straight to the cloud and not through the phone. In that case as soon as you’ll put the clothes on, the device will start recording.
What is the main difference between your approach on the market compared to your competitors?
I think there is a different philosophy between us and some of our competitors. We are a small industry and we are working hard to raise awareness around bio sensing clothing. We never stop improving and trying to reduce costs because we know, a 5,00$ piece of clothing collecting data that could save your life would be too expensive for an average person. We also want our clothes to feel comfortable in all the situations while you are wearing them.
Do you believe competition in this field is a good thing for OM Signal?
Clearly it is good because you know this is not a winner-takes-all-market. There are so many different use cases where you can use bio-sensing clothing to actually help people. It would be impossible to cover all those by only one company.
You can really imagine that in the future there are going to be out there companies that will be specialized in certain areas because they have better core competencies, and others focusing in different ones. I see this sector as space with the potential to host a lot of companies. Competition is, to me, a positive thing because it keeps pushing everybody and more importantly it raise awareness around what we do.
What are the next steps for OM Signal?
FC: We will continue to develop our platform obviously making it more useful and seamless. We will be adding a certification on our clothing so it would be possible to use them for medical purposes. My idea is to work with big brands, who might be interested in deploying products & services worldwide for people to live better and healthier lives. I’m actually seeking to partner with some of the biggest players in the market.