The WearTech Center, home to the WearTech Applied Research Center at Park Central in Phoenix, will foster development and conduct research to advance core areas of wearable technologies, bioelectronics medicine, neurotechnology development and wearable robotics.
“The WearTech Center is the first applied research center being developed by PEI (Partnership for Economic Innovation) in partnership with the Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University,” said Jeff Guldner, president, Arizona Public Service Company. “The idea is to bring resources from industry to move from a technology or research breakthrough to investment and then to manufacturing that benefits our state.”
Some of that technology is already being implemented and tested, as six projects are in progress at WearTech including Hoolest Performance Technologies’ earbud, an electrical nerve stimulator that calms anxiety, GoX Labs’ exoskeleton standards and testing research, Flexbio and TrueMobile Health’s alcohol and sweat sensor, an absorbent patch that can detect the presence of alcohol in sweat paired with software for wearable technology and LevelUp’s baseball hat with an EEG headband that utilizes neurofeedback to enhance human performance.
PEI’s mission for the WearTech Center is to partner with industry to develop wearable technology solutions that improve quality of life and human performance.
“The Partnership for Economic Innovation is really about implementing an economic development blueprint that will diversify Arizona’s economy and do it through competitive, industry-led investment and scientific and technological research,” Guldner said. “That’s the magic of these applied research centers, they provide collaborative teams of university and industry researchers, it provides them with resources and support to develop technologies and solutions that the global marketplace is demanding and we’re doing it here in Phoenix.”
“The goal of the Center is to provide a space for innovation, collaboration, whether for large or small companies,” Guldner said. “Neuromodulation and bioelectronic medicine are multi-billion dollar markets, primed for investment and growth and the WearTech Center ensures that we have a footprint for these marketplaces right here in Arizona. The Center will attract private sector partners who have real world research challenges that will result in new products and solutions.”
Chris Camacho, president and CEO, GPEC (Greater Phoenix Economic Council), said the PEI, in addition to legislators, civic and business leaders have established a vision to leverage Arizona’s history in microelectronics and a new era of emerging technology. “You’re going to see more and more adoption of wearables both in consumer, healthcare and military applications, and our goal with this particular institute is that we become proud Arizonans of Arizona-based intellectual property generation,” Camacho said.
“It’s less about importing other states’ technology and building our own, and this center is going to enable us to do that. Unifying university and industry capabilities and academic research with the whole goal of translating that research into new intellectual property, new discovery and ultimately new companies to be born here in the heart of metro Phoenix.”
City of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said WearTech’s location in Phoenix’s midtown corridor is “the perfect place for the kind of innovation we’re going to see here,” as WearTech is located within the largest concentration of healthcare professionals in Arizona, Gallego said.
WearTech’s location is also near a transportation hub with the lightrail on Central Ave., which is attractive to young innovators, in addition to an abundance of food options at Park Central, which all comes together to create a place where people want to work.
“People who will work at this hub probably could be anywhere in the country and we’re excited that they’ll call Phoenix home,” Mayor Gallego said. “We’re also looking forward to fitting this in with the great ecosystem we have, the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation is establishing a validation lab on our Biomedical campus so we can do early market testing of these technologies. Their MedTech ventures program will accelerate the formation of an estimated 45 new ventures creating more than 220 jobs, significantly increasing the density of and strengthening wearable technologies including a robotics cluster in our community.”
These contributions will not only impact Arizona residents, but will benefit Arizona economically through the development, manufacturing and testing the effectiveness of these wearable technologies. WearTech’s presence in Phoenix will propel Arizona forward in the fields of wearable technologies, as the market size is expected to grow to $56.8 billion by 2025.
“This is an incredible time to be an Arizonan because we’re turning a very proud page of our past into the future which is about connected devices and emerging technologies, so I couldn’t be more excited about not only what’s ahead, but also respecting what’s been done leading us to this point,” Camacho said. “As you see what happens here as a catalyst over the next few years, this is going to become a hotbed for new innovators and the nexus between innovation and corporate innovation is going to happen in the heart of Phoenix.”