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The History of Wearable Technology

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The History of Wearable Technology

The History of Wearable Technology

Today’s infographic not only highlights the history of wearable technology, but it also shows the noticeable acceleration in the advancement and adoption of new innovations. At the beginning, it would take hundreds of years between breakthroughs such as eyeglasses and the abacus ring. Today, new wearable tech innovations happen every month. In the last ten years, we’ve had the Google Glass, Fitbit, Oculus Rift, and countless others.

Interestingly, the history of wearable technology is littered with commercial failures and a few game changers, with not much in between. The reality is, however, that the duds seem to outweigh the successes by a wide margin.

For investors, this means that a strategic investment in a wearable tech company or product could either be a ten-bagger or go to zero. For this reason, due diligence is a key aspect of judging the validity of these companies.

As examples, the air-conditioned hat, Pulsar Calculator Watch, Seiko UC 2000 Wrist PC, and Levi’s ICD+ Jacket never really took off. Even great technologies such as the Google Glass never really generated any returns. This was a lot of risk to take on for no return, but perhaps in the future these patents and knowledge can benefit a company like Google.

The clearest commercial success on the list happened in 1979. The Sony Walkman and subsequent Sony Discman helped put the company on track to become an entertainment powerhouse. Over 400 million Walkman portable music players have been sold over time, with about 200 million of those being cassette players.

However, not all products with good fanfare are destined for success. The commercial potential of many wearable technologies introduced in recent years are still up in the air.

Fitbit filed for a $100 million IPO, but it now has to compete against a plethora of other fitness trackers on the market. The Apple Watch has been launched to much fanfare, but it comes with no guarantees for Apple – a company that needs a lot of new revenues on a product to move the needle. Lastly, the creation of the Oculus Rift could pioneer virtual reality and bring it to consumers. The company was already bought by Facebook for $400 million in cash, $1.6 billion in stock, and an additional $300 million contingent on specific financial targets. Will this transaction ultimately benefit Facebook shareholders? While there are no guarantees, so far reviews have been overwhelmingly positive for the virtual reality device.

What is clear is that, based on the history of wearable technology, devices that move the masses are far and between. The successes that do make it, however, can change the world and generate chart-topping returns.

Original graphic by: Staysourced

Space Wars: The Private Sector Strikes Back

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Economy

Visualizing Layoffs at Prominent Startups Triggered by COVID-19

As unemployment levels rise, we navigate the fallout of COVID-19 as layoffs ripple across the once-thriving startup ecosystem.

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Layoffs at Prominent Startups Triggered by COVID-19

As the pandemic reverberates through almost every industry imaginable, tech startups are also feeling the pain.

Since mid-March, countless startups and unicorns have undergone layoffs.

Today’s infographic pulls data from Layoffs.fyi, and navigates the cascading layoffs across 30 of the most recognizable startups in America. Each of the companies have slashed over 250 employees between March 11 and May 26, 2020—capturing a snapshot of the continuing fallout of COVID-19.

Silicon Valley Takes a Hit

Unsurprisingly, many of the hardest hit startups are related to the travel and mobility industry.

Closing 45 offices, Uber has laid off 6,700 employees since mid-March. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who was granted a $45M earnings package in 2018, announced he will also waive his $1M base salary for the remainder of the year.

Company# Layoffs% of EmployeesIndustry
Uber6,70025%Transportation
Lyft98217%Transportation
Bird40630%Transportation
Airbnb1,90025%Travel
TripAdvisor90025%Travel
Sonder40033%Travel
TripActions30025%Travel
Magic Leap1,00050%Consumer
Yelp1,00017%Consumer
Juul90030%Consumer
Groupon2,80044%Retail
Deliv669100%Retail
B8ta25050%Retail
Toast1,30050%Food
ezCater40044%Food
Flywheel Sports78498%Fitness
MindBody70035%Fitness
Opendoor60035%Real Estate
WeWork550N/AReal Estate
Compass37515%Real Estate
ZipRecruiter40039%Recruiting
Glassdoor30030%Recruiting
Cvent40010%Marketing
Sojern30050%Marketing
KeepTruckin34918%Logistics
Samsara30018%Logistics
Eventbrite50045%Entertainment
Lending Club46030%Finance
Sage Therapeutics34053%Healthcare
Automation Anywhere26010%Other

*Layoffs reported between March 11-May 26, 2020

Meanwhile, as room bookings dropped by over 40% across several countries, Airbnb laid off a quarter of its workforce. The tech darling is anticipating a $2.4B revenue shortfall in 2020.

Like many other big names—including Lyft, Uber, and WeWork—Airbnb is struggling to achieve profitability. In the first nine months of 2019, it lost $322M at the height of the market cycle.

Until 2021, gig-economy revenues are projected to drop by at least 30%.

International Startups Struggling

Startups in the U.S. aren’t the only ones scrambling to conserve cash and cut costs.

Brazil-based unicorn Stone has let go of 20% of its workforce. The rapidly growing digital payments company includes Warren Buffett as a major stakeholder, holding an 8% share as of March 2020.

At the same time, India-based ride-hailing Ola has witnessed revenue declines of 95% since mid-March. It laid off 1,400 employees as bookings drastically declined.

Company# Layoffs% of EmployeesLocation
Swiggy1,10014%India
Agoda1,50025%Singapore
Ola1,40035%India
Stone1,30020%Brazil
CureFit80016%India
Uber India60023%India
Careem53631%U.A.E.
Zomato52013%India
Lendingkart50050%India
Gympass46733%Brazil
OneWeb45185%United Kingdom
Livspace45015%India
Oriente40020%Hong Kong
Renmoney39150%Nigeria
Deliveroo36715%United Kingdom

Similarly, Uber India has rivaled Ola in dominance across India’s $10B ride-hailing market since launching three years after Ola, in 2013. Now, almost 25% of the Uber India workforce have been laid off.

Of course, these reports do not fully take into account the growing impact of COVID-19, but help paint a picture as the cracks emerge.

Pandemic-Proof?

While the job market remains murky, what startups are looking to hire?

Coursera, an online education startup, listed 60 openings in May. By the end of the year, the company plans to hire 250 additional staff. Within the peak of widespread global lockdowns, the platform attracted 10M new users.

Meanwhile, Canva, an Australia-based graphic design unicorn, is seeking to fill 100 positions worldwide. In partnership with Google for Education, Canva offers project-based learning tools designed for classrooms, in addition to free graphic design resources.

At the same time, tech heavyweights Facebook and Amazon reported openings. Booming startups such as Plaid, Zoom, and Pinterest are also listing new positions as shifting consumer demand continues to shape unpredictable and historic hiring markets.

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Maps

Mapped: The State of Facial Recognition Around the World

Mass surveillance is becoming the status quo. This map dives into the countries where facial recognition technology is in place, and how it’s used.

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Mapping The State of Facial Recognition Around the World

View the high resolution version of this infographic by clicking here.

From public CCTV cameras to biometric identification systems in airports, facial recognition technology is now common in a growing number of places around the world.

In its most benign form, facial recognition technology is a convenient way to unlock your smartphone. At the state level though, facial recognition is a key component of mass surveillance, and it already touches half the global population on a regular basis.

Today’s visualizations from SurfShark classify 194 countries and regions based on the extent of surveillance.

Facial Recognition StatusTotal Countries
In Use98
Approved, but not implemented12
Considering technology13
No evidence of use68
Banned3

Click here to explore the full research methodology.

Let’s dive into the ways facial recognition technology is used across every region.

North America, Central America, and Caribbean

In the U.S., a 2016 study showed that already half of American adults were captured in some kind of facial recognition network. More recently, the Department of Homeland Security unveiled its “Biometric Exit” plan, which aims to use facial recognition technology on nearly all air travel passengers by 2023, to identify compliance with visa status.

Facial Recognition North America Map

Perhaps surprisingly, 59% of Americans are actually in favor of implementing facial recognition technology, considering it acceptable for use in law enforcement according to a Pew Research survey. Yet, some cities such as San Francisco have pushed to ban surveillance, citing a stand against its potential abuse by the government.

Facial recognition technology can potentially come in handy after a natural disaster. After Hurricane Dorian hit in late summer of 2019, the Bahamas launched a blockchain-based missing persons database “FindMeBahamas” to identify thousands of displaced people.

South America

The majority of facial recognition technology in South America is aimed at cracking down on crime. In fact, it worked in Brazil to capture Interpol’s second-most wanted criminal.

Facial Recognition South America Map

Home to over 209 million, Brazil soon plans to create a biometric database of its citizens. However, some are nervous that this could also serve as a means to prevent dissent against the current political order.

Europe

Belgium and Luxembourg are two of only three governments in the world to officially oppose the use of facial recognition technology.

Facial Recognition Europe Map

Further, 80% of Europeans are not keen on sharing facial data with authorities. Despite such negative sentiment, it’s still in use across 26 European countries to date.

The EU has been a haven for unlawful biometric experimentation and surveillance.

—European Digital Rights (EDRi)

In Russia, authorities have relied on facial recognition technology to check for breaches of quarantine rules by potential COVID-19 carriers. In Moscow alone, there are reportedly over 100,000 facial recognition enabled cameras in operation.

Middle East and Central Asia

Facial recognition technology is widespread in this region, notably for military purposes.

Facial Recognition Middle East and Central Asia Map

In Turkey, 30 domestically-developed kamikaze drones will use AI and facial recognition for border security. Similarly, Israel has a close eye on Palestinian citizens across 27 West Bank checkpoints.

In other parts of the region, police in the UAE have purchased discreet smart glasses that can be used to scan crowds, where positive matches show up on an embedded lens display. Over in Kazakhstan, facial recognition technology could replace public transportation passes entirely.

East Asia and Oceania

In the COVID-19 battle, contact tracing through biometric identification became a common tool to slow the infection rates in countries such as China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore. In some instances, this included the use of facial recognition technology to monitor temperatures as well as spot those without a mask.

Facial Recognition East Asia Oceania Map

That said, questions remain about whether the pandemic panopticon will stop there.

China is often cited as a notorious use case of mass surveillance, and the country has the highest ratio of CCTV cameras to citizens in the world—one for every 12 people. By 2023, China will be the single biggest player in the global facial recognition market. And it’s not just implementing the technology at home–it’s exporting too.

Africa

While the African continent currently has the lowest concentration of facial recognition technology in use, this deficit may not last for long.

Facial Recognition World Map

Several African countries, such as Kenya and Uganda, have received telecommunications and surveillance financing and infrastructure from Chinese companies—Huawei in particular. While the company claims this has enabled regional crime rates to plummet, some activists are wary of the partnership.

Whether you approach facial recognition technology from public and national security lens or from an individual liberty perspective, it’s clear that this kind of surveillance is here to stay.

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