Smart clothes and accessories are becoming more common and we embrace them as part of our lives. Watches, bracelets, rings or shoes have become devices capable of tracking our activities. But this information is not just a curious fact, it can also be a means to monitor and improve people’s health . Therefore, Joao Bocas , founder and CEO of Digital Salutem , better known as ‘The Wearables Expert’ , explained to us how to apply these technologies for well-being .

The also entrepreneur explains that a wearable is "a piece of technology that through sensors can monitor your activities, especially your health." This allows users to avoid illness, manage it better, or recover faster, as long as there is a platform for that purpose. Also known as wearable technology, body technology , technology clothing or smart clothing , they are electronic devices incorporated into clothing or worn on the body as accessories.

“Smart accessories can help to manage chronic or long-term diseases, they can also be key in the detection, diagnosis and management of diseases. I see wearables as a strategic partnership that can improve the quality of life ” , said Joao in an interview on the occasion of his participation in the virtual entrepreneurship festival INCmty 2021 .

Bocas gave diabetes as an example: “These patients need to continuously measure their glucose levels, monitor their insulin and give themselves injections with specific doses at precise times. In these cases, wearables can play a crucial role as medical devices. "

What is Digital Salutem?

“We are a company that exists to improve people’s lives in terms of health. We mainly promote health wearables and work with global technology brands that are in the field of digital health care ” , explained Bocas.

"At Digital Salutem we offer technology for remote patient monitoring, that is, to check the status of people with chronic or long-term diseases, connecting the patient with their doctors or clinic," adds the specialist.

The future of digital health care is in wearables, according to expert Joao Bocas. Image: Depositphotos.

Why is Joao Bocas ‘The wearables expert’?

Born and raised in Portugal, Joao migrated to the UK in his twenties to learn English, not knowing that he would find his true calling there. Bocas worked in hotels and restaurants to pay for his Bachelor of Sports studies.

"I have two great passions, sports and health, which go together, because most of the people who do sports are healthy, right?" , he commented enthusiastically.

“The first two years were very hard, I almost went back to Portugal. But I decided to stay and fight, learn the language well and get a better job. After getting my college degree, I was a children’s sports teacher. Then I worked in health and wellness companies, and my life improved a lot ” , says the also expert speaker in technology.

It was around 2015 when the Portuguese had his first contact with a ‘wearable’, "a very small pedometer, which you put on your belt and counted your steps, although my first real wearable was a fitness tracker in 2016" , he says.

“From there I started using wearables, testing them, getting to know them in depth and working with them before anyone else. Later I began to give talks, to get involved in digital health, and that is how the Digital Salutem platform emerged. Things evolved and people started calling me ‘The Wearables Expert,’ Joao explained.

Transform luxury accessories into wearables

In recent years, the use of accessories such as smart watches or fitness bands has become normalized, and every time we will see this technology in other products and clothing items, such as smart rings, shoes and belts .

“Any fashion accessory that we know of, even clothing can be smart. The technology you find in a smart watch may be in a jacket. The sensors can be placed anywhere, ” said Bocas.

The challenges to mass the use of wearables

However, the expert identifies four major obstacles to the mass adoption of smart garments:

1. Knowledge of technology .

"The first barrier is understanding the value of using them, education," he says. Citing a report in which they found that "users have little motivation to use them or use them for a while and then leave them," Joao says that people "usually acquire the wearable and now, without having a real education on how to take advantage of them when maximum".

2. The economic gap.

These pieces are usually accessible only to a certain percentage of the population with medium to high economic capacity. “It is also a problem for the healthcare industry, because hospitals and large companies want everyone to use wearables, but nobody wants to pay for them. That is always the big question, who is going to pay for this? Governments, insurance companies, family, hospital, nursing home, or who? It is definitely a barrier ”, he pointed out.

3. Connectivity.

“Governments are tasked with providing good connectivity throughout the country. It is common in all countries, even in Mexico, for large cities to have excellent connections, but not for small communities. Connectivity is essential, because if we have the technology but not the connection, then it is of no use. It is a great challenge to have a complete and reliable coverage ”.

4. Security and privacy.

"People are concerned about where that information goes and what companies will do with it, they feel mistrust," said the expert, underlining the importance of addressing cybersecurity, hacking and data leakage problems that even the largest companies face.

The role of entrepreneurs and startups in the smart apparel industry

It is a very new and growing field, which we can measure with just one piece of information: Joao Bocas, the world’s leading expert in wearables, got to know these gadgets in 2016, just 5 years ago!

“These technologies continue to emerge, they are being developed, some with better results than others. The startups are the ones that are creating innovative wearables ” , commented the specialist.

“The most successful entrepreneurs, like Elon Musk, have this great vision of solving problems. I think entrepreneurs have to be a little crazy, ambitious, visionary. But also, deep down, their mission is to make an impact to benefit humanity and create better conditions for society, "he added.

Joao knows first-hand that it is not easy to undertake in the world of wearables because "creating these devices is much more difficult than developing an app, it takes a lot of money to combine the software and the hardware, it is quite a challenge."

However, he sent a message to all entrepreneurs who want to travel this path:

They must be aware that it will be difficult, but nothing in life is easy. Do not be afraid of failing because, in fact, it is a positive thing: the sooner you fail, the faster you will know what does not work and you will be able to move towards what does work. It’s a lesson, it doesn’t feel good, but it’s good to move on.