Portrait

Mr. Wearable

10,000 wearables professionals are part of his community. Becoming a member requires an invitation: Christian Stammel, CEO of the B2B platform “WT – Wearable Technologies” has a greater influence on the scene than any other individual.

Hansjörg Honegger

“The wearables market is growing in double-digit figures every year, and today around 150 million products are in circulation.” The sport-loving Munich resident, who fires off numbers like arrows, is Christian Stammel, the “Mr Wearables” of the scene and probably the industry’s most important networker worldwide. Stammel gives the impression of a racing driver who is in pole position and can hardly wait to get started with the interview.

 

Which he then does, enthusiastically. First things first, the definition: wearables are not simply trackers for the wrist: “We expanded the wording at a very early stage: close to the body, on the body and in the body,” is Stammel’s definition. GoPro, the helmet camera, is also a wearable according to this definition – and one that yielded the first multimillionaire “in our scene”. Intelligent implants are thus also wearables.

 

Hand-picked members

In 2006, Stammel founded the B2B platform WT Wearable Technologies in Munich, and there is now also a WT Wearable Technologies Inc. in San Francisco. “We have three pillars: conferences, trade fairs and consulting,” explains Stammel. Only hand-picked members are welcomed into the community. “You can only get in with an invitation,” stresses Stammel. With 10,000 members, it is the world’s largest and most important wearables community. If you want to get anywhere in this industry, you need to get in. “We network companies with one another, ensuring that the right people get together, and this often results in a new product or a new idea.” Companies along the entire value-creation chain are now part of this ecosystem, which makes WT Wearable Technologies the world’s largest and most important platform for this scene. And at the centre of it all, Christian Stammel, who travels the world, is a sought-after keynote speaker, brings the right people and companies together on every continent and has a sixth sense for the future. 

“Stammel is always thinking about how to implement innovative ideas, and he has an incredibly entrepreneurial spirit.”

Dr. Manfred Krischke, CEO of CloudEO AG

“Riding the wave” has always been Stammel’s motto for life, and not only in a sporting sense: Stammel is an enthusiastic windsurfer. He grew up in a well-off, technology savvy family of entrepreneurs: “We had what was probably one of the first video cameras in Germany, and also got mobile phones very early on. My father was fascinated by new technologies.” This left its mark on Stammel. Although he completed a degree in business studies and worked in the family business – which has a 150 year history – for five years, his real passion lay elsewhere even then. He founded two companies during his time at university, got involved with dialogue marketing in 1993, and discovered the Internet. His company quickly became a new media agency, went public in 2000, and the future promised millions – at the very least. However, the bubble burst in 2001, and Stammel parted with his first company. Even now, there is a slight undertone of regret when he talks about this period. If things had worked out better back then, he would surely be an extremely rich investor by now. 

 

1/5 The most successful wearable so far: the GoPro is worn on the head or the body, thus allowing sports recordings from a first-person perspective. The first model, the Hero 35mm, was launched in 2004 and advanced to become a hugely successful model. However, as of April 2016, GoPro will reduce the supply for the first time, as sales of the starter model have slumped.

2/5 Recon Instruments developed a GPS Micro Optic Display for ski goggles and now also for cyclists. While skiing or cycling, wearers receive various data, such as the speed, elevation, temperature or position, directly through the goggles. Apps allow the data to be analysed on a mobile phone or PC.

3/5 The wearable from Proteus is a combination of a data plaster and a pill. The plaster monitors the usual vital functions, but also whether the medicine has actually been taken. An interesting feature: the pill produces the necessary energy for a “radio message” to be sent to the plaster through a reaction with stomach acid.

4/5 The wearable from Cur utilises familiar technology: fighting pain with electrical impulses. What is new is that the plaster is small and discreet. It can be worn underneath clothes and activated at the push of a button. The aim is to quickly fight back or neck pain, for example.

5/5 The wearable Free Style Libre from Abbott provides immense relief for diabetics: with a simple plaster and the corresponding measuring device, they can quickly and easily check their blood sugar values without having to draw blood. The regular finger prick technique is no longer required.

1/5 The most successful wearable so far: the GoPro is worn on the head or the body, thus allowing sports recordings from a first-person perspective. The first model, the Hero 35mm, was launched in 2004 and advanced to become a hugely successful model. However, as of April 2016, GoPro will reduce the supply for the first time, as sales of the starter model have slumped.
2002: T-Shirt with ECG

But then Stammel would not be Mr Wearables, which would be a great loss to the entire scene. He hurled himself into the next adventure, founded his next company, and once again proved his strong sixth sense for key trends. He set his sights on GPS tracking, which was new and exciting at the time, collaborated with the European Space Agency, and discovered wearables during this period. As a keen sportsman, he was always on the lookout for a way to combine his two passions: sport and technology. As early as 2002, Stammel had the idea of integrating an ECG monitor into a T-Shirt, thus transforming the medical device into a lifestyle device for sport lovers. Admittedly, this was not a resounding success, but the path to the wearables scene had been mapped out. “Yes, we were too ahead of the times with our idea. But I knew wearables would catch on.” 

 

Dr. Manfred Krischke, CEO of CloudEO AG and long-term friend of Christian Stammel, describes his character as follows: “Christian is extremely open to his business partners, new ideas and unconventional approaches. He is always thinking about how to implement innovative ideas, and he has an incredibly entrepreneurial spirit.” And: “You can have a lot of fun with him.” Fun is a word that is used often. It has to be exciting, new, interesting. That’s when Stammel comes into his own. When it comes to data protection issues – wearables are being used more and more frequently in the medical field – the response is prompt: “We’ve been talking about this in the Internet industry since 1995!” What he means is boring, nothing new, a necessity. When I press him further, he shines with a differentiated opinion. He is not a “hurrah techie”, but certainly sees the challenges. But: “We should’t always talk only about the risks, but the opportunities as well.” 

 

Switzerland fan

He sees many opportunities – and, surprisingly, his already great enthusiasm increases even further when our conversation turns to Switzerland. “Switzerland is a phenomenon! 400 companies from 58 countries take part in our IoT/M2M Innovation World Cup, which has been sponsored by Swisscom for four years. In 2016, two Swiss companies made it to the final.” He pulls out a brochure, shows me the finalists from the past few years, points out the many Swiss companies, and I get the impression that he is not doing this merely for the sake of being polite to a visitor, but that he actually means it.

“Switzerland is a phenomenon”

Christian Stammel on Switzerland’s innovative power

Now he starts up his laptop and shows me more figures, first regarding the reward and then the wearables market, and explains that huge growth is ahead of us, particularly in the area of health. He opens another diagram, points excitedly to logos, figures and curves, and says: “I could talk about this for hours.” Which he then does. Luckily.

About Stammel:

Christian Stammel was born in 1969. He is married and has two daughters aged four and eight, and has been a keen sailor and windsurfer since childhood. He lives in Munich.

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