This week we had the opportunity to interview WORTH Partnership Project mentor Ricardo O’Nascimento. Ricardo has a broad range of experiences regarding innovative design and technology. He is the founder of POPKALAB, a wearable technology company, and was also part of the WORTH Pilot Project.
With his industry experiences, we were curious to find out more about his work with innovation and wearable technology to see what advice he could pass onto our current and future Partnership Project participants:
You have an amazing and broad career which includes lecturing and being involved in workshops, why is it personally important to you that we support and assist the next wave of entrepreneurs in Europe?
I believe that initiatives like WORTH are fundamental in giving an extra push to new entrepreneurs. It is very common that small companies and designers have fantastic ideas and develop great prototypes but struggle to take them to the next level and put them on the market. WORTH comes to fill this gap.
Another point that I would like to stress is the value of the mentoring program. It is great because it will guide you through a process that you might not be familiar with, but it is crucial for the success of your business. To have this structure on your back is fantastic.
Several of the WORTH Partnership Projects involve wearable technology, what would be your best piece of advice for them to ensure their projects are successful?
One of the significant advantages of wearable technology is the proximity of the body. Clothes are becoming more functional and have the potential to solve problems and create new possibilities of interaction. Wearable technology can be used in many areas like healthcare, sports, and lifestyle. Despite the field, the best advice I can give is to make something meaningful. Do not use technology just because it is there. Think about the entire circle, think about the users and also how this product will be manufactured, used and discarded.
What have you found is the best way to work in a team towards a mutual outcome and could you suggest anything to current and future WORTH participants?
I truly believe that innovation comes from the collaboration between different people and disciplines. To work in a collaborative environment sometimes you have to deal with your ego and be open to other points of view. Do not be overly attached to your idea. Another approach that makes the collaboration smoother is to work with a company or designer you admire and see value in them. Also, do not choose only based on knowledge but also on personal chemistry, if your project is awarded, you will have to get along for several months.
Are there any trends in the current design industry that particularly interest you and would like to see further developed in the future?
I am very much interested in seeing alternatives concerning power generation for wearables and small devices. The Energy budget is indeed one of the biggest challenges in wearable technology, and we have to deal with it creatively. I am also very much interested in Biosensors and actuators that can be used and disposable without further harm to the environment. Another trend that could be explored is the creation of smart garments for the industry 4.0. I am talking about clothes with sensors and actuators that connects the worker to the production line seamlessly. I have seen some smart gloves and shoes, but I think there is way more to be explored.
Find out more about Ricardo O’Nascimento here.
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