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Cloud Computing

Tucon 2013: Tibco's Matt Quinn on Wearable Tech & Why Cloud Standards Are a Bad Idea

As he drinks what he said could be his umpteenth cup of coffee since this morning, Matt Quinn shows me his latest bit of wearable tech, the Fitibt Flex, while a Pebble Smartwatch sits on his other wrist. “I’m hugely interested in wearable tech, for me it’s the undiscovered country of tech at the moment.”

Quinn is CTO at Tibco, and one of the recurring speakers at this year’s Tucon conference. While he talked plenty on stage about Big Data, Tibco’s latest products, and bigged up the next person to speak, it was our chat about wearable tech and Cloud standards that saw him really get animated. “The way that people are consuming information is changing; we’re looking for new ways for both consuming and producing information. I’m a huge believer in things like Google Glass [though when I ask why he doesn’t have one he says no one has offered] but I want to consume information the way I want to, not how some device manufacturer decides is the right way.” He says the Pebble is a great expression of that, as it allows you to take in information at a glance.

Despite not owning any Glass tech, Quinn is still well-equipped. He says the Flex appeals because he wants to be aware of what’s going on at all times, all at a glance. He says he also has an Oculus Rift, the VR headset that made over $2 million on Kickstarter.  He’s well-equipped and well-informed, so what’s next for wearable tech? “I’ve seen some of the prototypes of the Glass equivalents, and I think the biggest challenge they’ve got now is coming up with a user experience that will match the device.”

“With Pebble, what they’ve done is decided, ‘We’re really not going to spend a huge amount of time building up the interface, it’s really up to the developers to go play,’ and to a certain extent I think they’ve succeeded. People are coming up with all sorts of strange and unusual things, is it all successful? Hell no, some of it’s awful. But for every failure, it gives rise to new way that makes more sense.”

Using Palm as a parable of where Pebble is now, Quinn talks about how it starts simple. “Each subsequent device added more and more functionality and crap, and started to get away from what the device was actually meant for. Wearable tech is going to go the same way, every device is going to try and outdo the other on a functionally point of view.”

So who’ll be the saviour? Quinn doesn’t know, but he’s sure it won’t be any of the 1st generation of watches, and won’t commit on whether the much-rumoured iWatch from Apple will be a game changer; it’s just important people go out and buy the early birds to spur on the companies to keep on developing. “[Eventually] somebody is going to come up and say hang on, there’s a better way, you don’t actually need this shit and crap, this is the experience that people are actually looking for.”

Where Tibco Fits In

But if Quinn is so interested in wearables, why isn’t Tibco getting ready for it? “We’ve actually started to do some of that work,” he says. “If you think about our core mission statement – right information, in the right place, at the right time, in the right context, what’s important is two words – right place, right context.”

“So the challenge you’ve got with wearable tech is very simple; small displays and limited bandwidth. So how do I get the right info through this tiny little aperture to create the two second advantage?” Quinn explains that Tibco has done a lot of integration work with its messaging and core ESB, and one of its new products, BusinessWorks Express, ‘is all focused around mobility and web based integration.’

“Mobility, if we just stick to these things [holds up his phone], is pretty much done. Bigger screens, faster processors, better battery life.” He admits that nothing specific for wearables has been done yet, but it’s being kept in mind. “Wearable tech represents entirely new types of thinking, but based along the same types of principles, and BWExpress is built with core mobility in mind. We’ll start to specialize over time with wearable tech, just because I think it’s cool.”

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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