Interview by Marija Butkovic (@MarijaButkovic)
Stephanie Battista is a self-starter and versatile leader who is able to guide and collaborate with cross functional teams to deliver and measure human-centered design solutions. As a senior strategist and founder of the Humanity Innovation Labs she articulates what people value and need as well as assess the business impact and implications of technology, and design. Her role is to develop holistic user experiences as well as implementing strategy for innovative preventive (physical + mental) wearable products, services and systems.
What does your current job role entail?
As the founder, I am responsible for creating the visionary strategy that my team and I use with in R+D for wearables. We are an innovation consultancy who focus on integrating state of the art technology and translating research into viable products and business models.
How has your career progressed since your degree? Has it been an easy industry to get into or have you had many challenges?
I graduated in 2001 with a BFA in Industrial Design. I started working with a biometric company in London in my senior year sketching and prototyping security devices. I was intrigued with the endless possibilities of how technology could impact so many different industries. My first few months out of college, I moved to New York and realized very quickly how steep the curve was to getting a job with an ID firm, I was an ok designer but didn’t develop a super power. It only took me a few months to realize that if I didn’t find it I was going to lose what I had worked so hard in school to obtain. I moved home and started a consultancy focusing on soft goods, technology and consumer electronics in the lifestyle space. My first client was a wearable wireless earbud alarm clock, using bluetooth and a smart phone with charging base station. I knew I was hooked and found my passion and have been in the wearable space for sixteen years.
How long did it take you to be where you are now? What was the biggest obstacle?
It has taken every minute and I am still working at it daily to be a designer that has the ability to lead and create in unique ways that appeal to the masses while making the individual feel as if they are the one I am designing for. Biggest challenge is this field is incredibly taxing and difficult… but one of the most rewarding if you are dedicated.
What are your projects you are currently working on within your company?
R+D for consumer wearable devices and experience within the active lifestyle space and with a hybrid approach on integrating optimal performance.
What does the #WomenInTech movement mean to you? What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur and woman in wearable tech industry?
To be a part of a collective group of entrepreneurs that have similar passions, experiences and knowledge provides additional expertise that can be leveraged. Knowledge share and Subject Matter Expertise are the main areas that I can see initially.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
A year and half ago, I broke off and started this R+D consultancy focusing on wearables and as I look back, this is the part of my career I am most proud of. That I had to work the hardest for. That I am the most content with. The work my team and I are doing now is the type of work that I have dreamed about my entire career.
In your opinion, what will be the key trends in the wearable tech and IoT industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
Currently research and development is driving these innovative trends within IoT and wearables.
Augmented Reality technology will lead in R+D for the next five years as designers are interested in creating compelling experiences that engage the user in unique ways that can drive behavioral modification.
Sensing and Data Collection will drive new innovative ways to manage preventive health and chronic diseases including other specialized use cases that are beyond individual health, and move into population health.
Material Sciences - Integration of these disciplines are driving new effective ways to engineer textiles, components and conductivity into a soft fluid garment that mimics current apparel with ease of care.
Power management and militarization of hardware components will evolve significantly and become much more appropriate for on body applications, including best practices and standards will be integrated for IoT applications.
Wearables will be designed for every part of the body (in addition to the wrist) including ingestibles, implantables and single use applications.
Can you name any prominent women in this industry that you admire?
Moondial, Founder Sabine Seymour
Pratt University + Founder of Interwoven, Rebeccah Pailes Friedman
Nike Footwear Designer, Angela Martin
Ringly, Founder Christina Mercado d’Avignon
ex-Oculus, Head Developer Anna Sweet
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all female founders and female entrepreneurs in wearable tech out there?
I was lucky enough to be raised by my grandparents who had incredible drive and vision for the future. My grandparents taught me how to be dedicated and resilient in my craft. To be true to my beliefs and values and to always stay simple, laser focused and humble. This advice has given me the courage to overcome the odds, to press forward when there was no path, to believe in myself when there was no way of knowing if I was actually on the right road.
Twitter: Stephanie Battista
Twitter: Humanity Labs
Instagram: Humanity Innovation Labs
Facebook: Humanity Innovation Labs
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, co-founder of Women of Wearables and Kisha Smart Umbrella. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.