Julie Malvik

Julie Malvik graduated with a BA in Journalism with Business at the Kingston University in London. She blogs about innovation and entrepreneurship for Technoport.

Steve Wozniak

Julie MalvikFebruary 3, 2015

Norwegian Students Shooting for the Moon

A shared idea about the future of technology went from a vision to a reality when three Norwegian students got together and founded the company MOON Wearables. The company is created to design and make wearable electronic devices and software applications. The goal: to make life easier for people by giving them beautiful objects they will love to use.

Wearable technology presents the potential for massive transformation in many industries. The more obvious ones include consumer electronics and communications. Early adopter industries include clothing, healthcare, sports and fitness. However, we see many industries adopting wearable technologies as computing and wireless communications integrate wearable into virtually every aspect of product and services.

How can this type of technology improve people’s daily lives?

“Elon Musk once said, “Engineering is the closest thing to magic that exists in the world.”

“We absolutely share his view. And with the rise of the internet-of-things (IoT), we believe the history of engineering and technology is soon facing an inflection point. Where before, most ‘things’ around us have existed as individual cells of technology and engineering, analogous to how computers existed as individual workstations prior to the Internet. Today and going forward, these cells are beginning to be interconnected. The world’s things will begin talking to each other,” Jørgen Veisdal says.

“The currency in this world, as we see it, will be knowledge about the user. Where is he/she? What is he/she doing? Is he/she hungry? Sick? Bored?”

“Utilizing a few simple sensors and microprocessors in conjunction with a few hundred lines of code, MOON and its application can begin making informed predictions about the answers to such questions. Our predictions may then feed into the ecosystem of things around the user, improving his or hers experience.”

“If our app knows that the person is in Trondheim, that the weather is cold and dark, that the user has just walked three kilometers in 25 minutes, and his/her blood sugar is low, these factors may be brought into what the user sees, hears and feels around them. As you walk in the door, your August Smart lock can tell your Sonos sound system to put on some smooth jazz, your light bulbs from LIFX will dim up a calm yellow light, while your Nest sets the thermostat to a soothing 25 degrees. All before the user even has time to take off their shoes,” he says.

An idea born at NTNU

The idea for MOON started two years ago when Jørgen Veisdal began at his graduate degree at Norwegian University of Science and Technology. “A believer in the potential of the-up-and-coming wearable market, I was reviewing the various products in the marketplace trying to understand why some products had been successful and others had failed,” he says.

He tells that this analysis culminates in three key properties, which in his opinion a wearable has to have in order to be successful. “At the time, no products were successfully delivering on all three properties. I still believe that to be the case today.”

The wearable technology market is entering a rapid growth phase. Examples of leading indicators of future wearable technology sales such as Google Trends, cost reduction of the key enabling technologies, increase in functionality that is becoming possible and initial sales of new smart wrist wear such as Apple Watch, and fitness monitors. All show that a very rapid growth is in prospect.

Driven by the arrival of the Apple Watch, which will begin shipping in April according to CEO Tim Cook, the global market for wireless power and charging in wearable applications is set to attain a giant 3,000 percent expansion this year compared to 2014, according to IHS Technology.

Furthermore, there will be a remarkable growth this year for wireless charging in wearable electronic devices. According to statistics on Market Watch the wireless charging in wearables will generate revenue exceeding $1 billion by 2019.

“In choosing which segment of the market we wanted to contribute to, we similarly analyzed what the goals of using any given product may be, and how one might go about trying to achieve such goals. For wearables, this relates mainly to where on the body the device physically sits and what it enables the user to do, that he/she is currently unable to do with a smartphone/tablet,” Jørgen Veisdal says.

“Failing to deliver on either or both of these two properties is, in our opinion, where most wearable vendors get it wrong. When we make product decisions, the final decision always comes down to how it affects one or both of these two factors.”

Goals for 2015

“Ultimately, what we do is build tools that will make people’s lives better. That’s our ultimate goal. When they asked Steve Jobs about how he saw the computer, he would invariably refer to it as the ‘bicycle of the mind’, a tool which enables humans to perform at higher levels than they would be able to without it.”

Veisdal explains, “In our opinion, there have been two such ‘bicycles’ in our industry to date – the personal computer and the smartphone. These were two inventions that truly made people’s lives better in a dramatic way, and largely shaped our modern world. We believe wearable technology has the potential to offer improvements at a similar scale. Our firm’s name was chosen to engrain this belief in our own company culture.”

“We are not spending our twenties building something that aims for incremental improvements. We’re shooting for the MOON.”

In the past few years the wearable technology market has made a huge jump out of the trial and error phase and into the hands of hundreds of thousands of eager consumers, with hundreds of product launches last year alone. With consumers already spending a lot on the product, it should not be surprising that seller competition has skyrocketed.

“We are about to begin manufacturing complete functional prototypes of our device for demo and testing purposes. Because we are building everything in-house, this process is expected to be both comprehensive and time consuming, but we are hopeful that it will culminate in a minimum-viable product by the end of the year.”

“I think it is interesting to talk about motivation. Having followed the technology industry in Silicon Valley like many people may have followed their favorite sport’s teams for over ten years now, we have been dreaming about this opportunity since we were in our early teens. This is it for us,” Veisdal says.

He expresses himself as a dreamer. “In truth, at our core, more than anything we are dreamers. Dreamers work in bits and atoms, trying to create things that we want for ourselves, but that don’t exist around us. In order to do so, in the face of overwhelming odds of failure, putting our hearts, souls on the line, the thing that keeps us going is undoubtedly our passion. The passion we share for what we do.”

“Of course, if such was our goal, there are easier ways for us to make money. We could perfect and license out our circuits and spend our time doing business development instead. It would certainly be a lot cheaper, and we would likely get a lot more sleep while doing so. It’s not magical. It’s not going to make users smile. That’s something I think this country has lost, or maybe never even had, that Silicon Valley is amazing at. Creating user experiences that are so thorough and well thought out that people form an emotional attachment to them. That’s engineering at its finest, and it’s rare.”

Beijing skyline China

Julie MalvikJanuary 23, 2015

An Internship in Beijing

Two Norwegian economics students from Trondheim Business School, Jakob Matthiasen (25) and Hilde Bøe Tjøm (23), have both been undertaking an internship at the investment company Origio Partners PLC in China´s capital, Beijing.

Talking to Technoport, they share their opinions and experiences on how it is to be a part of a working environment in one of the world’s largest economies.

Origo interns

Jakob Matthiasen (L) and Hilde Bøe Tjøm (R) at Origo

Why did you choose to undertake an internship in China?

Hilde: “I applied for the internship because I wanted to challenge myself in a country and a culture totally different than Norway. China has rapidly grown to become one of the world’s largest economies, and the country is an important trading partner for Norway and the rest of the world. Having the opportunity to work in a Chinese company for one month was therefore very appealing.”

Jakob: “An internship in China is a rare opportunity, and when you come across such possibilities, you have to grasp them. To dive head first into the second largest economy of the world is a privilege.”

Politicians are often out in the media to talk about the significance of studying or working in China, yet we have not seen Norwegian companies highlight the same importance. What can you offer compared to students that have not been to Asia?

Jakob: “I believe that China will play a central role in world economics and politics in the future. Having actually worked in China, and experienced Chinese business life first-hand will come in handy, as China is gradually internationalizing. Furthermore, having worked explicitly with Chinese equity markets and their importance and development, I might have a better understanding of anticipated shifts in global asset management.”

Hilde: “I am studying economics. In this context it is interesting to experience Chinese corporate culture and learn about Chinese business models that apparently has been successfully. I think everyone has something to gain from working or studying in a country outside the Western Hemisphere.”

Jakob and Hilde in traditional Chinese formal clothes

Jakob and Hilde in traditional Chinese formal clothes

Could you see yourself working in China in the future?

Jakob: “Maybe. China is bound to be one of the most important countries in the world in the near future, and to live in and experience the development China is undergoing will be fascinating,” Matthiasen said. However, there are downsides. “The pollution. I don’t think I can live in a city where I cannot see the sun and sky, or sometimes four, five blocks ahead, on a regular basis due to smog.”

Hilde: “Having spent two weeks in China without speaking a single word of Chinese, I realise that if I were working here I would definitely have to learn the language. However, if an opportunity were to appear at the appropriate time in my life, I could definitely see myself working in China for some years.”

Why would you recommend China to other students?

Jakob: “Beijing as a city is exhilarating. There is so much to do and experience, and never a dull moment. It is what you make it; you can sit in your apartment and watch series, which is nice after a hard day’s work, or you can go outside and embrace the unknown.”

“I did get around a bit, and got to do the mandatory tourist attractions like the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, the Silk Market and I even tried eating scorpion. On the other hand, Beijing is enormous, and we’d probably need years to really get to know the city.”

How would you would you describe working in Beijing compared to Trondheim?

Jakob: “Beijing as a working environment surprised me. It was a lot less formal than I thought beforehand, and just not that different.”

“Beijing is a major international business hub, with nationalities from all over the globe, yet it felt like I could have been at work back home in Norway. Which was comforting; there is no shortage of feeling lost when you move outside the international business areas.”

Do you have the mindset to succeed globally?

Join us in Trondheim, Norway, on 18 & 19 March as we seek to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset at Technoport 2015.

Featured image credit: Trey Ratcliff