wearable-technologies-innovation-contest-ictomorrowHave you got an idea for a wearable tech product that will appeal to a wide commercial market?

IC Tomorrow, the programme from Innovate UK (the Government’s innovation agency) that stimulates innovation and economic growth in the digital sector, are offering six businesses up to £35,000 each to encourage innovation in wearable technology across the themes of sport and wellbeing, entertainment, hospitality, health and safety, accessibility and design.

The companies chosen for the Wearable Technologies Innovation Contest will work with commercial partners, such as McLaren and Disney, to speed up development of their technologies, as well as receiving other expert advice, support and mentoring to help their business grow.

“Successful applicants will be able to trial proposed solutions with major industry partners for at least three months”


Successful applicants will be able to trial proposed solutions with these industry partners for at least three months. There are six different themes for the competition.

The 6 challenge themes:


Challenge One
Sensor technology and tracking performance
Partner: McLaren and Loughborough University

The sports and recreation industry offers significant potential for digital innovators to address real-world challenges among likely participants, along with low barriers to entry. This challenge, in partnership with McLaren and Loughborough University, seeks to bring together sport and wearable technology, to enhance the comfort, safety and performance of users.

While the winning applicant may find ways of applying new or existing technologies to address purely sporting goals, they could also use this challenge to test their commercial potential in other sectors.


Challenge Two
Wearables for kids
Partner: Disney

Children today are often more tech-savvy than their parents, and will grow up having used technology from a very early age. A 2013 report by Ofcom found that the use of tablet computers had tripled among 5 to 15-year-olds since 2012, and just over a quarter of infants aged 3 to 4 use a tablet at home.

Wearable technology could provide a safe environment for this age group to stay connected, without issues of privacy, exposure to inappropriate content or risk of losing the device. This challenge, set in partnership with the Walt Disney Company, is to create a fun, wearable device for kids, exploring areas such as entertainment, personalisation, usability, safety and connectivity.


Challenge Three
Guest-centred experience through wearables
Partner: glh Hotels

Hotels are large, complex environments, providing a wide range of customer-facing services, including restaurants, bars, fitness areas, concierge, conference rooms and, of course, bedrooms. Co-ordinating these services so that guests receive a seamless and personalised experience is often a labour-intensive process. This offers digital innovators the opportunity to create scalable and wearable solutions for a global market.

This challenge, set in partnership with glh Hotels, focuses on improving the guest experience and/or efficiency of staff, through wearables. glh hotels is looking to offer the successful applicant a unique ‘living laboratory’ in one or more of their flagship hotels across London to trial the winning solution.


Challenge Four
Reacting to the local environment
Partners: Amey and Network Rail

One of the major emerging markets for wearable technology is the construction industry. Health and safety is a critical business process to infrastructure organisations such as Amey and Network Rail. This challenge seeks wearable technology solutions that provide an interface between the environment, external data feeds and the individual.

The aim is to reduce the risk of injury to workers performing tasks in challenging environments. While the rail industry provides a valuable test ground around safety issues, there is significant potential for the winning solution to be commercialised and adopted beyond this sector.


Challenge Five
Unlocking accessibility through wearables
Partner: Atos

The World Health Organisation estimates that there are 1 billion people currently living with a disability, while more than 11 million people in the UK alone have a limiting long-term illness or impairment. Many of these result in cognitive rather than physical impairment. For example, 10% of the population show signs of dyslexia and/or dyscalculia.

This challenge, set in partnership with Atos, seeks an elegant solution that harnesses the potential of wearable technologies to improve digital accessibility among those with cognitive and/or physical disabilities. This includes improving current methods of authentication and identification, both online and offline.


Challenge Six
Plug-and-play for textile wearables
Partner: Queen Mary University London

This challenge, in partnership with Queen Mary University London (QMUL), seeks to enable seamless and efficient interfaces between wearable devices and textile electronics, to enable integration with a wider range of applications.

The successful applicant will be invited to work with researchers and scientists at QMUL to develop their proposed solution, and will have access to advanced laboratory equipment, design, fabrication and evaluation facilities.


The Wearable Technologies Innovation Contest opens on 12 January 2015 and the deadline for applications is 10 March 2015. There are briefing events in London on Wednesday 28 January and in Manchester on 29 January.

You can find out more at the IC tomorrow website, or see more digital funding competitions and news by following them on Twitter: @ICtomorrow.

For more info from InnovateUK you can see more funding competitions from Innovate UK or look out for announcement on InnovateUK’s Twitter feed: @innovateuk