A History of Silicon Valley

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These are excerpts from Piero Scaruffi's book
"A History of Silicon Valley"

(Copyright © 2016 Piero Scaruffi)

The Selfies (2011-16)

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Wearable Computing

In 2011 Los Altos-based WIMM Labs (founded in 2009 by former Intel executive Dave Mooring and acquired in 2013 by Google) introduced the Android-based Wimm One smartwatch. 2012 and 2013 saw the debut of mass-market smartwatches such as the Samsung Galaxy Gear and the Sony SmartWatch, both powered by Android, and the Pebble smartwatch, running its own operating system but capable of communicating with both Android and iOS apps. The latter, introduced by Palo Alto-based Eric Migicovsky's garage startup, set a new record ($10 million) in Kickstarter funding. A similar feat was achieved later that year by Laurent LePen's Omate for its TrueSmart smartwatch (LePen was based in China but the company was based in Mountain View). In 2014 Google introduced the Android Wear platform. The first smartwatches based on Wear were Motorola's Moto 360 (2014), Sony's Smartwatch 3 (2014), LG's G Watch (2014) and Samsung's Gear Live (2014). Apple introduced its Apple Watch in April 2015, and this quickly became the bestselling smartwatch in the world.

Wearable devices posed a challenge to high-tech companies because they involved issues more related to fashion than to technology. Hence San Francisco-based Fitbit, founded in 2007 by James Park and Eric Friedman, maker of the Tracker, partnered with Tory Burch, a boutique specializing in women's designer apparel, Google partnered with industrial designer Isabelle Olsson for Google Glass, and Intel partnered with retail chain Opening Ceremony, founded in 2002 in New York by fashion specialists and Berkeley-graduates Carol Lim and Humberto Leon. Apple hired Angela Ahrendts, former chief executive of iconic luxury British retailer Burberry.

In 2016 Snapchat introduced its Spectacles, that were simply a more limited version of Google Glass (10 seconds videos only) but much cheaper and with a more ordinary look, almost the counterbalance to Google Glass' alien-futuristic look.

Scientific progress too was introducing new variables. For example, in September 2010 a team led by Ali Javey from UC Berkeley unveiled an "electronic skin", a flexible and touch-sensitive film of superconductive nanowire transistors. Fitbit had a virtually infinite number of competitors, from Misfit, founded in 2011 in San Francisco by Sonny Vu and Sridhar Iyengar, to Moov, founded in 2014 in Mountain View by Meng Li, Nikola Hu, Tony Yuan (offering a wearable band and a voice app to coach users).

In 2016 SRI International spun off Superflex, headed by Rich Mahoney, focusing on "wearable robotics" for helping the disabled and the elderly, DARPA's "Warrior Web" program to enhance soldier performance). In 2016 Berkeley-based BioBeats launched an app that took data from several existing wearables and used machine-learning algorithms to deliver advice to the user's smartphone. The machine-learning algorithm acted as a coach dedicated to maximize the user's health.

Naked founded in 2015 in San Francisco by Farhad Farahbakhshian, developed a "home body scanner", a 3D scanner that looked like a mirror and provided dada about the body.

click here for the other sections of the chapter "The Selfies (2011-16)"
(Copyright © 2016 Piero Scaruffi)

Table of Contents | Timeline of Silicon Valley | A photographic tour | History pages | Editor | Correspondence