Misfit Wearables are the makers of highly wearable computing products, including the award-winning Shine, an elegant activity monitor. In an interview with medGadget, Mr. Vu elaborates: "The Shine is the ultimate in simplicity, from the look of it to what it does, which is measuring your physical activity goals. That's really it. The other thing is that I think we're the most wearable. You can wear it anywhere. We've had people asking if they can wear it as a necklace, watch, even a power ring! I love the other products, but you can only wear it in a few places and with certain dress levels (casual, active) comfortably. You can wear the Shine for a run, just as comfortably as to the prom. When we surveyed people, we had a number of people say they would wear it even if it didn't measure anything at all. At first, you think, ‘really?' But I feel like that's our dream, making something people would want to wear anywhere."
Mr. Vu is also the founder of AgaMatrix, makers of the world's first iPhone-connected hardware medical device (Red Dot & GOOD Design Awards). AgaMatrix, which began as a two-person start-up, now ships 15+ FDA-cleared medical device products, 1B+ biosensors, 3M+ glucose meters for diabetics.
Mr. Vu worked at Microsoft Research on machine learning / linguistic technologies and studied math (BS) at UIUC and linguistics (PhD) under Noam Chomsky at MIT. "I eventually left the program again to start up AgaMatrix with Sridhar Iyengar (AgaMatrix's current CTO), who I knew of in high school and roomed with in college. It was awesome that we started the company from nothing to what's now a multi-million dollar company whose products are sold at the Apple Store. I got to know John Sculley (Misfit's co-founder) a couple years ago as a friend and mentor, and over time we decided to start a company together."
Mr. Vu understands a number of interesting languages, is a patron of good product design, and believes an era of wearable computing is coming soon where UX design will be geared towards glance-able displays as well as non-visual modalities. Where does he see the future of wearable sensors/computers heading?
"It's going to be a big deal. We had the PC revolution in the 80's, the Internet in the 90's, mobile in the early 2000's until now, and now we are in the post-PC era of cloud computing and tablets. Where else is computing going to go? I think it might go on our bodies. Is the next era of computation and sensing going to be from 2012-2020? I think it is. People are finding it to be more socially acceptable to wear technology, and companies are designing products that are more attractive and socially acceptable to wear. We're trying to humanize the wearable technology space; you can start by asking ‘what kind of sensors do you have that we can strap on you?', but we first ask ‘what do you like to wear?', and we can place a sensor in it. We also start by considering what people would wear, regardless of whether or not it has a sensor in it, like jeans or your underwear or socks. But, I actually think we won't have the technology for the next 5-10 years to make sensor-embedded clothing that is cheap, can be washed, doesn't have to be charged, and doesn't have to fit tight on your body like a compression shirt."
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