Norwich business launches bold bid to break into billion-pound wearable technology industry
PUBLISHED: 06:00 12 August 2015 | UPDATED: 10:08 13 August 2015
A pioneering Norwich-based business has launched a bold bid for a slice of the lucrative wearable technology industry – set to be worth £12bn by 2018.
The engineers behind Wearable Concepts want to buck the trend by manufacturing at home in Norfolk and exporting to Europe, the United States and Asia.
They hope their new products will join the Apple Watch, Google Glass and GPS trackers as major players in the growing industry.
David Cato and Rik Matthews, the duo behind the idea, have designed PowerMount - a new mounting kit for phones and cameras, to be used for cycling, running and driving.
It uses wireless technology to recharge batteries, and download data from phones and cameras to a remote storage system - Yellow Roc - similar to a portable iCloud.
It means pictures, video or recordings will be preserved if cameras or phones are damaged, and video can be live streamed elsewhere. Mr Cato, who formerly worked for Norwich’s Sontec Electronics, which distributed phone mounting system Quad Lock, said he wants the first product, a bike kit, to be in shops by Christmas.
It will be built at the Coda Plastics factory in North Walsham, with a bid to minimise product travel miles.
“There is a 10pc premium for manufacturing in the UK,” said Mr Cato. “But Asia wants a nice, cool British brand.”
The second phase, the remote storage system, will be launched in January at technology trade show CES.
Based at Hethel Engineering Centre, south of Norwich, Wearable Concepts was started with £50,000 of grants and investment, and now employs 15 people.
It uses new carbon material graphene, which at just one atom thick, is the thinnest material known to man.
Super light, it is between 100 to 300 times stronger than steel.
Former footballer Mr Matthews, a relation of knighted England player Sir Stanley Matthews, develops the software, while Mr Cato, a long-standing member of Happisburgh Lifeboat crew, has designed the technology.
“We are the first people to do this,” said Mr Cato. “A lot of what is out there is poor quality, so we wanted to build something here in Norfolk.”
After moving into the engineering centre in July, Mr Cato is already looking to the future, and said in three years he would like Wearable Technologies to have its own building, and employ more than 100 people.
Mr Matthews said it was the type of product that would make a lot of money. He added: “It’s not cool to be a millionaire, but it is cool to be a billionaire.”
Before production can begin, Wearable Concepts is seeking a further £180,000 of investment.
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