A decade after it was launched, LeWeb in Paris has become the place to be when it comes to digital innovation. This year’s edition attracted more than 3,000 participants from 85 different countries.
The rise of commercial drones and the impact of new technologies on the healthcare sector were just some of the trends addressed at this year’s conference.
But attendees were not just there for the inspirational speeches. This is where services like Uber and Square were born.
“At LeWeb you have everything you need to start a business. You can have the idea, then you can find your team: people hire themselves here and partner together. Then you can find the money: there are a lot of investors who are ready to fund startups,” said LeWeb co-founder Loïc Le Meur.
French firm Withings, a leader in the connected health revolution, has came a long way from being a start up. Mixing wearable fashion and digital functionality, its latest device, the Activité digital fitness band, is built into an elegant analog Swiss watch. It connects to your smartphone and boasts an eight month battery life.
“At Withings we are looking at ways to provide tools that you will use in the long term,” explained Withings co-founder and CEO Cédric Hutchings. “So we really turn the equation upside down and we say: ‘Let’s design a beautiful watch that you will wear because it’s a beautiful and simple watch, but that will happen to get you all the sensors and information.’”
And if you don’t carry a watch, maybe OMsignal’s smarshirt is something for you. Equipped with sensors that monitor your breathing, heart rate and step count and sends the date to your iPhone, this innovation has already been snapped up by fashion icon Ralph Lauren for his new so-called "smart" polo shirts.
“We think there’s going to be a convergence between the world of tech and the world of fashion. If you are going to put something on your body – whether it’s called wearable or anything else – it does have to do with fashion. You make a choice to define yourself in a certain way, it does have to do with self-expression,” said OMsignal co-founder and CEO Stephane Marceau.