Slashdot: This is Risto. He's the CEO of idean, a company that designs user interfaces here and there for many different kinds of products and services. He has a pretty good handle on the future of wearables and that's what we're going to talk about today. Risto, let’s start out by telling me how do you pronounce your last name?
Risto Let's try, Laha desmaki.
Slashdot: La desmaki.
Risto Well, pretty good.
Robin Miller: Where are you from if I may ask?
Risto Lähdesmäki: From Finland originally, I’m based in Palo Alto, California now, but originally from Finland.
Robin Miller: Boy, who else have we heard of who is from Finland? Oh, right, that Linus Torvald guy.
Risto Lähdesmäki: Yes. That's the one and, yeah, there are few other ones as well.
Slashdot: I heard that you were talking about pet wearables.
Risto Yeah, I mean that's one interesting area where I can see that, you know, wearables will be improving quite a bit. No, I don't know if dogs or cats really want to have any wearables, but it's a massive market. And the main reason is that it will help us to enjoy our lives with our pets better. And that should be the only goal. I don't think we are there yet because since the whole domain of wearables is still quite up in the air. Everyone is trying out stuff, like lot of crappy stuff. If I look like last three years it's been like crap. But that's how it goes forward. We learn from our mistakes and then companies are coming around with new innovative solutions and I'm really looking forward to see in terms of cool, meaningful, relevant wearables which are removing the friction and not just adding to pain. And I have known like there are some pretty good examples out there, like for example, Dogtelligence. Sorry I can't pronounce it. Dogtelligent! Dogtelligent is an interesting company who's like helping pet owners and they are helping them to train pets, creating like virtual fences around the pets. Something really cool and interesting in that sense, and you can actually literally help pet owner to train their pets to become better pets.
Robin Miller: I hadn't thought about the invisible fences, the alert function, something that we put on the collar now, but doesn't work all that well.
But how do new wearables coma about? By saying, oh look a device. Now let’s see how to hook to it. Or are they getting to the point where they call someone like you first and design them – the experience and the screens and all that – and then build the device around that? What's going on there?
Risto So what we mainly see today is that since there are so many interesting devices out there you can buy already, lots of companies are exploring how they could use those devices in their business. So they come to us like, here is this Apple Watch and we're thinking like we could use it to solve this kind of problem, whatever it might be. And then it's our job to follow their employees and tape people and observe how they behave to get this emotional connection and then to find a meaningful way to solve any kind of problem with wearable or mobile or whatever device. And so what we're seeing here and this is a great time because it's not any more like, hey, yeah, we need to do something cool because it’s cool rather than, hey, we got this business needs and we're seeing there's an opportunity because we're seeing a lot of friction, lot of people wasting their time on wrong things. And then we're like, hey, let's try to remove that friction. And wearable devices are extremely good for that. I mean, one of our first wearable product, it's from 2007, and it was for a mining drill company.
Robin Miller: Okay.
Risto Lähdesmäki: Like the guys in the mine. So we went to a mine in 2007 in Morocco and we spent like two weeks in like what 100 Fahrenheit, 1 mile beneath the surface observing how people behave over there. And then we came back and came up with this idea, well, hey, we can use this wearable thing to help them to conduct their work there, and they actually built the whole thing, and it's been like widely successful thing.
Robin Miller: What specifically did you do for the people in the mine?
Risto Lähdesmäki: We created a device with a digital user interface and then there were a lot of other stuff as well which helps them to not to get their face ripped off in a mine.
Robin Miller: How does that work?
Risto Lähdesmäki: Massively complicated thing, but it's just like modern mine is more about like very modern devices over there, like drills. And you need to control them, so we came up with this concept where this device on your hand, you would control these drills with the wearable thing, and then again there were other devices as well, but this was one part of that. And it's so funny because it’s 2016 now and we're all looking at cool wearable things and we were working with that stuff back in 2007-2008 and literally we started from like corporate environment, not the consumer area. If I look at the consumer area and domain today like last year, year before, we were designing a lot of fancy, wearable clock faces, beautiful screens.
Robin Miller: Yeah.
Risto Lähdesmäki: Trying to imitate real watches which I always felt like, hey, oh, we got this fancy beautiful device and man, all we're doing is like beautiful replications of old watch faces. What we are seeing today is like, hey, we got this beautiful screen and real estate, how we can use that real estate in a way that it actually brings some value to you? It actually makes you enjoy your life, makes enjoy your work better and that's happening as we speak and that's what companies are really getting it now.