by Johanna Mischke

July 3, 2013

An Unlimited Amount of Applications

We are proud that worldwide electronics design, fabrication, assembly and test company; Flextronics, will be a major partner of our upcoming Wearable Technologies Conference in San Francisco on July 22/23. We had the chance for a short interview with John Dwyer, the VP Engineering & Technology Development for Flextronics High Velocity Solutions (HVS). HVS serves customers in the consumer electronics markets with a full offering of product development and supply chain capabilities. John has held various leadership roles within Flextronics over the last 13 years. He has 25 years of industry experience in operations, manufacturing technologies, and product development with companies such as Honeywell, Motorola, and Newell-Rubbermaid.

1. Heapsylon – a former Innovation World Cup finalist – recently announced a partnership with your company. Can you give us some other examples of partners from the wearables space?
We look at strategic partnerships from many different perspectives. Our most successful plan to bring wearable technologies to market the fastest is when we can develop solid relationships within multiple disciplines at our customer (design, product planning, operations, executive managment, etc.).  Achieving this plan is based on our ability to demonstrate value to each of those people or organizations. Currently we have customer partnerships ranging from small start-ups to programs within our large core accounts.

Another important element to our strategy is to develop partnerships with external subject matter experts. WT customers present new challenges to us on a continuous basis, so it is important for our technical staff to have the knowhow to identify and bring the best solution to the project. Currently we are evolving partnerships for WT in the areas of industrial design, wireless design, chipset solutions, and various aspects of materials, tooling, circuit, and sensor technologies.

2. What services/products can Flextronics offer to a company that is building or planning to build wearable electronics?
Flextronics offers a broad range of technologies and services to enable customers looking to introduce products anywhere in the world.  Current WT customers are utilizing services ranging from early technology development, prototyping, and product design to manufacturing, fulfillment and logistics services. Our investments in the wearable market are aimed at creating content to help customers minimize risks and lead times normally associated with introducing breakthrough technologies to the consumer market.

3. Flextronics recently opened a Silicon Valley innovation center. Where can people find more information and who are you targeting with this Product Innovation Center?
Flextronics has recently opened Product Innovation Centers in the US, China, and Europe. The scope of the Silicon Valley facility is to provide an innovative environment for customers small and large to engage with Flextronics at the earliest stages of technology and product development.  Silicon Valley has become a hub for advancements in consumer electronics and the associated eco-systems that are creating the backbone for consumers to get the value out of wearable technologies.  Flextronics’ headquarters are in the heart of Silicon Valley, and the Product Innovation Center is in our Milpitas campus. Representatives from both will be at the Wearable Technologies Conference in San Francisco.  More information specific to the Silicon Valley Product Innovation Center can also be found here and in this press release.

4. What do you think will win: the face or the wrist? In general what wearable products/application areas will be most successful in the next 5/10/20 years?
The intriguing thing about wearable technology as it develops is the ability to manipulate similar technologies into a variety of form factors that people will use in different ways.  The ability to integrate electronics seamlessly into the environment where the application is designed to perform is where we focus our efforts.  As underlying technologies advance in materials, power, packaging, and connectivity standards, we expect to see demand for services that will quickly deliver cost effective go to market solutions.

Predicting winners based on consumer acceptance is not where Flextronics concentrates our efforts, but we do focus on factors that can be supported with data and market analysis to support our development strategy.  There are a variety of applications that exist for both face and wrist.  Today those two require different enabling technologies which can be altered for multiple applications, so at this point we see both important for the future of wearable tech.

5. How do you expect the wearable technologies market to develop until 2017?
We see exciting opportunities and new manufacturing challenges over the next few years in wearable technologies. As with all emerging technology markets, ongoing convergence is expected from multiple perspectives. The difference with wearable technology from a consumer electronics perspective is the unlimited amount of applications. As a service based company, we see opportunities to add value with both traditional electronics customers and a new set of consumer based companies that will quickly need to integrate wearable technologies into their existing supply chains to keep brand leadership in a global consumer market.

6. Do you personally have a favorite wearable technologies product?
I really like products based on iconic designs and working with customers that focus on the personal experience.  These products tend to present the most demanding development challenges from an electro-mechanical perspective, and push organizations to innovate and create differentiating content.