Ideas on paper

Thoughts by José Luis Agell

Category Archives: Innovation

Check your body as often as your email

Today I had a very interesting chat with Misha Chellam, co-founder and COO of Scanadu, a fascinating health tech startup that I’m sure it’s going to change the medical world.

I know it might sound futuristic but they’re building a personal, mobile, auto-diagnostics product-they refer to it as a Medical Tricorder. I believe that their video (co-produced by IDEO) captures very well their vision and spirit.

All the best guys!

Technology to improve our lives

I was fortunate to attend part of the GigaOm Roadmap today. The conference gathered 20 tech leaders to analyze “what’s next”.  Tech pros and founders from companies like Square, Twitter, Dropbox, WordPress, DreamWorks… went on stage to talk about what they’re working on and where do the see they future of technology going.

Speakers came from very different backgrounds and industries but there was a common denominator: technology is going to become more human-centered, enhancing new user experiences, better communications and healthier life-styles.

These are some of my notes:

Humanization

“Both [Twitter and Square] are great at encouraging more face-to-face human interactions… I believe strongly that this information and these tools help us be better, but we need to be sure as builders of tools that it’s not overwhelming, that it’s meaningful, and that it’s not distracting. That it’s not something that puts technology first; it puts humans first. And the humans’ use of the technology first.” (Jack Dorsey)

Personalization

Ian Blaine, CEO of The Platform, said that content can’t be pushed homogeneously to everybody. The access to the cloud has to be personalized, adapted to everyone’s preferences. This is what they’re doing at Xfinity, creating a customized way to watch media content and movies, making it more personalized, social and more user-friendly.”There will also be a bunch of extra meta-data around the program, making it possible for end users to find new content by actor or even through personal recommendations. Another neat feature: TV viewers will have a history of the nine most recent items viewed across VOD, live TV and online content.”

Connectedness

Mobile internet is connecting us all, bringing up great capabilities and opportunities in various industries: health, communications, sports… It might sound a bit futuristic, but Jawbone Founder and CEO Hosain Rahman says we’re headed to an era where our bodies can be connected to everything in the world, including our remote doctor, coach or heating system. I’m still impressed by the new wristband that his company has recently launched: UP. This system (wristband+ iPhone app) tracks your daily and sleeping activity and helps you live a healthier live.

Openness and interoperability

With lots of data about ourselves in the cloud, interoperability becomes crucial. Data has to be accessible from a variety of devices.

This is just a taste of what the future will be. It was a day full of valuable insights and excitement to make us smarter, more connected and healthier through technology.

Getting inspired by innovators and entrepreneurs

One of the reasons why I decided to come to Silicon Valley 3 years ago was to learn and be inspired by the most talented innovators and entrepreneurs.The truth is that my experience so far has been tremendously enriching.

Last week was one of those in which I felt very grateful for the opportunities that life is offering me in this part of the world.

First, on Wednesday I had the chance to meet with Yves Béhar, the founder of Fuse Project. His design studio has become a reference in the human-centered design space. As Tom Kelley said: Through his San Francisco-based design and branding company fuseproject, the Swiss-born Behar has shown that a futuristic, hi-tech approach to design can be deeply humane.

I had seen his TED talk on designing objects that tell stories, I admire his work and was very excited to meet him in person. We met in his San Francisco office in SOMA, a reformed industrial building that gathers engineers, designers and strategists. I loved the atmosphere and the lighting system that is a collection of lamps designed and built by the first employees.

We had a very pleasant discussion about Innovalley, innovative startups and the future of wearable technologies. I had the impression he’s one of those visionaries who like staying down to earth. He’s a tech savvy and knows what he talks about. He gave me valuable feedback. I realized he enjoyed working with startups. In fact, Fuse Project has a disruptive programme -The Design Venture – that connects them with startups and creates profitable joint ventures.

On the other hand, I hade the pleasure to met Mark Dwight, the founder and CEO of Rickshaw bags, which is an outstanding bag company. Its brand is strongly related to the city of San Francisco. Sustainability, design and innovation are Rickshaw’s values.  I had the privilege to visit their facilities, an old warehouse in the vibrant Dogpatch District where they create, test and produce their bags.

Mark is a seasoned entrepreneur. He was previously the CEO of Timbuk2, where he led that company’s successful turnaround. The San Francisco bag company was acquired in 2005 by a San Francisco private equity fund. He left after the acquisition and, following his passion, decided to create his own bag company.

“I love bags and the business of bags.” says Mark. I could tell because he talks about his innovative fabrics and designs with bright in his eyes.

He’s also very passionate about technology. He holds a mechanical engineering degree from Stanford and though making bags doesn’t sound very technological, he’s always curios to try new products. I’m sure we’ll be able to surprise Mark with some of our latest innovations. 😉

It was a great pleasure to meet both of you. Your energy, enthusiasm, focus and hard-work are a reference for young entrepreneurs.

Thanks Steve!

The Silicon Valley community, and the entire world, is mourning the death of the great Steve Jobs. It seems that even the sky wanted to commemorate his live with rain over the Valley.

He’s probably the best entrepreneur we’ve ever had. An actual visionary. Not those who just have crazy ideas, but those who implement them. He didn’t only see the future, but made it present.

As a young entrepreneur, there are many things that I’ve learned from him. In fact, he’s been a reference for the whole community.

Thanks for your positivism,

for revolutionizing several industries making technology at the service of people,

for making things differently,

for telling us what focusing means,

for that amazing commencement speech at Stanford that I repeatedly watch when I need inspiration,

for reminding us that life is fragile but it’s worth living it with energy.

I am happy you saw the project you created become the most valuable company of the world. You deserved that moment after a whole live devoted to disruptive innovation.

Thanks Steve!