Home Speaker Profile: How Fullpower’s Philippe Kahn Navigates The Watch’s Past, Present And Future

Speaker Profile: How Fullpower’s Philippe Kahn Navigates The Watch’s Past, Present And Future

Wearable World Congress, ReadWrite’s signature annual conference in San Francisco on May 19-20, will feature the key players who are shaping wearable technology and the Internet of Things. This series profiles some of the experts who will be speaking at the conference.  

Swiss watchmakers, legendary for creating precise, stylish timepieces, have faced their fair share of challenges. Their analog timepieces have withstood the advent of quartz watches and novelty devices foisting calculators, garish video games and more. Now smartwatches join the ranks as the latest rivals. 

Re-enter Philippe Kahn, CEO of Fullpower, the company behind the MotionX software that powered many of the original activity- and sleep-tracking bands. Recently he’s been working with well-known Swiss watchmakers to create a new line of horological smartwatches. 

Buy tickets now: Wearable World Congress, May 19-20

Fullpower’s technology now aims to blend the digital and analog worlds by combining activity tracking, sleep monitoring and cloud services, with always-on time and date, as well as battery life that’s measured in years, not hours or days. 

I caught up with Kahn, who will be speaking at Wearable World Congress next month, to talk with him about innovation and what got him interested in wearables in the first place.

As a consumer, what excites you about wearables? What irritates you?

I hate charging devices. I already have my laptop and my smartphone. I don’t want to worry about a third device. That’s the biggest irritation. I do love beautiful objects and iconic design, even though I am a geek. I just love beautiful objects, and I like wearing beautiful objects. I love them when they are like an Alpina watch.

As the great Miles Davis used to say: “If you want to play good, you have to look good!”

There’s a perceived mad rush to improve user experience. How do you see this future playing out? What are the key developments that need to happen for us to get there?

Because wearables need to be worn, the charging and invasiveness factors are key to the user experience. For example, we built the Alpina horological smartwatch. It is a beautiful Swiss watch, [but] we had to solve an impossible technology problem and deliver two-plus years of battery life. And we did. That was the number one experience request from users. A watch should be able to tell the time, all the time, every time.

Tell me about the moment when you decided that you needed to solve the power issue.

When we started our company in 2003, nobody was thinking about wearables. We realized that if we wanted people to use them 24/7, we needed to solve the power issue and make the technology invisible. So we decided to build a strong technology foundation focused on breakthrough power management technology and miniaturization. 

Of course this was a roadmap, but we called our company Fullpower and the technology platform MotionX. We thought that this would keep our focus on what really matters.

What are the top five things companies should consider in seeking to follow in the footsteps of horological designs?

Fullpower built the MotionX platform so that iconic brands such as Mondaine, Alpina, Frederique Constant and others have the flexibility to build beautiful objects. That’s the challenge: To make the technology invisible, and yet deliver breakthrough battery life and miniature form factor without ever compromising on quality and accuracy. It’s a beautiful thing. 

To hear more from Philippe Kahn and other innovators and experts, register for Wearable World Congress 2015, May 19-20 in San Francisco. Early bird prices end soon!

Photo courtesy of Philippe Kahn/Fullpower

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