Javier Guillén is an Industrial Engineer, has a MBA degree and studied in Spain and Germany. He started his professional career in 2002 in the automobile industry. In 2008, he was called to join an ICT start up (Weartech) as general manager where he built a work team to develop, produce, and commercialize monitoring systems based on Smart Textiles.
About Weartech: Weartech is an ICT (Information and Communications Technology) company, established in 2007 in Valencia, Spain. The company is engaged in manufacturing, developing, and marketing smart clothes (garments and fabrics produced from fibers that react in an intelligent way to external factors such as changes in temperature, moisture, bacteria, and chemical elements, light, radiation, fire, electric shock or mechanical stress).
Analyst: Please tell us something about your company and its activity in the field smart textiles?
Javier: Weartech engages in the production and development of monitoring systems based on smart textiles. We produce T-shirts with integrated textile sensors that record heart rate, pulse rate, and other important health metrics of the wearer. To these T-shirts, we attach electronic devices that send the information to a native app via Bluetooth. The app then informs the user about the measures that they need to take in order to optimize their exercise regime. The company has launched a product called “GOW Trainer”, a training system based on smart textiles. The application is available for iPhone and android version (Samsung devices that supports Smart Bluetooth technology).
Analyst: How significantly does competition affect the company’s market share? What was and is the level of fierceness in the competitive landscape? How is the company positioning itself to take advantage of the new demand in emerging markets?
Javier: The number of competitors in the market is still not very large as this is a new and niche market yet to be explored. The entry of new market players would positively impact the market by bringing smart textiles to the mainstream and thereby creating awareness about this new application of wearable technology.
Weartech has positioned itself as a leading brand in the smart garment industry. The company offers an innovative product with added value to the customers. The company is well aware of increasing competition in the market, both – from the small players and big established brands in sports and fitness.
Though, big players with massive R&D budgets have an extra advantage that they can easily ramp up production and launch multiple products, opportunities still lie for small players to offer innovative products which can be a huge hit in the market.
Analyst: What is the extent of the impact of prices on company costs and expenditure? What are the general trends in the prices?
Javier: Obviously price of a smart textile is a very crucial factor. Moreover, in the absence of an established player, it is increasingly difficult to establish a price for the product. Price continues to be a pain point for smart textile manufacturers. However, it is expected that the price factor will ease down with more players foraying into the market and attaining economy of scale. Furthermore, the commercialization of e-textile a couple of years from now would help in driving down the cost significantly in next couple of years.
As a part of its pricing and product positioning strategy, Weartech had to strike a balance between all it can offer and the way the competitors place and position their product in the market. The company realizes that it has struck the right cord when the customer stops talking about the price and values the benefits that the product offers.
Analyst: To what extent does the company collaborate with the other firms to produce components? What is the company’s view on joint ventures, partnerships, and collaborations?
Javier: Collaborations, alliances, and partnerships with the other companies are crucial in many aspects: Commercial partners (companies with a stronger and global brand) and technology partners (technological centers) are the ways forward in the wearable electronics industry. For Weartech, as it has the knowledge of the latest technologies that can be profitably turned into products, we are quite open for partnership across the value chain. Another unique aspect of our company is that we have been able to maintain a healthy relationship with large mass of customer base that helps us to understand the actual requirement of the user.
Analyst: What according to you might be breakthroughs in the R&D (expectations) which might potentially change the landscape of the market? If the breakthrough happens, how will it precisely affect the market? What are the recent breakthroughs which lead to the current state of the market?
Javier: The major breakthrough that would disrupt the market landscape would be to have garment that could connect to the devices in real-time without any external aid or accessory connecting the device such as a smartphone or a tablet. Such a smart garment should be able to send information not only to the user but also be equipped to take its own decisions to alert and alarm the user of any potential abnormalities or trouble from the ambient. Such a technology could possibly change the consumption and adoption pattern of the consumers and also would redefine the way the companies invest in marketing.
The first real example we have now is that when we use smart textile for fitness and sports, the current smart textile and e-textile technologies would measure important metrics of the wearer and can collect information that can be retrieved to offer customized products to the user.
Analyst: What are the key opportunities and restraints for the wearable electronics industry in the smart textiles market?
Javier: The market is yet to see increased integration of electronics in textiles and improvement in energy efficiency is yet to be achieved. Opportunity lies in almost every application area. For example, in the healthcare application sector for smart textiles, the cost of prolonged medical treatment can be negated by using smart textiles to monitor health parameters in absence of paramedic support. The patient may not have to prolong his/her stay in hospitals and also the frequency of visit will be reduced. The exact information about critical health parameters would further help the medical examiners to know the reasons of illness and administer proper medical help. However, healthcare application field is difficult to penetrate as more advanced integration and superior technology will be required.
In other application areas such as fitness, wellness and sports, smart textiles have immense potential as the integration of consumer devices to body-wear would help them to monitor and track their fitness parameters. Smart textiles are further expected to change the way we interact with our environment as they collect real-time data of a person’s health and ambience.
However, lack of awareness among end users about the technology is likely to keep the adoption rate low. There is a need to educate end user and market smart textiles more aggressively. This would require increased share of marketing investments. For a new player to enter the market where there still are few players, it would require them to compete with low cost markets.
Browse related report for – Wearable Electronics Market (Smart Textiles)
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