Japan Is Harnessing IoT Technology To Support Its Aging Population

Japan Is Harnessing IoT Technology To Support Its Aging Population

We’ve said it before and odds are we will say it again in the future – the only thing better than the tailwinds associated with one of our investing themes is when two or more of these tailwinds intersect. The latest evidence of this happening is in Japan where the companies are utilizing aspects of our Disruptive Innovators investing theme to address pain points associated with our Aging of the Population one. In this case, these solutions are leading to the Internet of Things products (smartwear, wearables) and services (monitoring, remote medical) that will drive connectivity demands that are associated with our Digital Infrastructure theme while also spurring on the Digital Lifestyle as they monitor Japan’s aging population.

We’ll be watching the progress of these and other solutions as a harbinger of what could be here in the U.S in the coming years as we too contend with our own greying population.

Japan is rolling out various kinds of IoT devices to help society better deal with aging. For instance, smart tags inserted into shoes and bags can help track dementia patients who repeatedly wander off, while washable UHF tags in hospital bed sheets can alert administrators about when it’s time for disposal.

At Tokyo-based smart fabric company Mitsufuji, IoT sensors are being integrated into clothing. Founded by a traditional Kyoto textile company, Mitsufuji is now focused on the development and manufacture of silver-metalized conductive fiber under its AGposs brand and wearable IoT products under its hamon smartwear brand, which was commercialized in 2016.

Stretchable and flexible, AGposs is nylon covered with silver, so that it acts like both thread and metal. It’s electrically conductive, and when incorporated into hamon smartwear, it can be used to monitor biometric information such as breathing rate and heartrate, as well as temperature, humidity, acceleration and gyroscopic data. With a transmitter attached to the smart fabric and other devices, data can be sent to mobile devices and cloud platforms.

Detecting heatstroke and heart attacks in the near future

The technology can be applied to various sports uses, such as yoga and weightlifting, as well as industrial purposes such as the uniforms of construction or factory workers. But healthcare applications are drawing attention amid Japan’s aging population. For instance, hamon smartwear could help keep tabs on elderly people during Japan’s torrid summers: of the 105 people who died of heatstroke in Tokyo in July and early August 2018, 80 were aged 70 or above. Mitsufuji has worked with university researchers to develop algorithms that work with the hamon smartwear to detect when heat stroke may occur.

“Hamon can monitor heart rate in a more stable fashion than existing wristband-style wearables,” says Mitsufuji CEO Ayumu Mitera. “We will be able to detect heat stroke by using this technology, and it can also send alerts to care managers about heart attacks.”

Mitera says hamon users have been impressed with the accuracy of the sensor data, and the company wants to meet their various needs by continuing development. The company has also created disposable hamon smartwear for use in care facilities. In September 2018, it completed construction of a manufacturing facility in Fukushima Prefecture to meet demand for hamon products.

“Aging populations are a global problem and Japan is a frontrunner that can provide solutions—we have no choice in this because everyone is getting old,” says Mitera. “While traditional large families that would care for elderly are a thing of the past, with remote medical technology caregivers who monitor patient data can act as their family. I think that by 2040 or so, people will not need to go to hospital anymore because diseases and symptoms will be detected in advance. We’re now beginning to cross this threshold.”

Source: Japan BrandVoice: How Japan Is Harnessing IoT Technology To Support Its Aging Population

Amazon and Qualcomm put Alexa assistant in more headphones

Amazon and Qualcomm put Alexa assistant in more headphones

It looks like we are approaching an inflection point with digital assistants as Qualcomm looks to expand where and how they are used by focusing on the wireless earbud market. The most recognized adoption of that technology for that purpose, which is in keeping with our Disruptive Innovators investing theme, has been Apple’s AirPods, which include connectivity with its own digital assistant Siri. To say the AirPods have been a hit would be an understatement, and while there are competitors in the wireless earbud market, it would appear the competition is only now going to heat up as Qualcomm brings Amazon’s Alexa into the playing field in a meaningful way.

It could be the enemy of my enemy is my friend given how Apple competes with Amazon in the digital assistant space, and Qualcomm is at odds over chips and royalties, but odds are it will foster more wearable digital assistant powered devices at better price points and hopefully foster far greater innovation as well. Underneath it all, Qualcomm is sticking with the strategy that made it a formidable mobile phone and smartphone chip company – being a merchant arms dealer that wins no matter who wins the war.


Microchip firm Qualcomm is joining Amazon.com to spread the use of Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant in wireless headphones, the companies said on Monday.

Under the deal, Qualcomm will release a set of chips that any maker of Bluetooth headphones can use to embed Alexa directly into the device. When the headphones are paired to a phone with the Alexa app on it, users will be able to talk to the voice assistant by tapping a button on the headphones.

The functionality would be similar to Apple Inc’s AirPods wireless earbuds, which enable users can tap the devices to talk to Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri.

Amazon and Alphabet’s Google, whose voice assistants have most often been found in their respective smart speakers for the home, are rushing to partner with headphone makers.

Models from Bose and Jabra feature Alexa built in, and Sony said earlier this year that a software update will make some of its headphone models work with Alexa. Google Assistant can be used on headphones from Bose, JBL and Sony, along with Google’s own Pixel Buds.

The Qualcomm partnership could expand that lineup. Qualcomm has developed a pre-made circuit that headphone makers can drop into their device to imbue it with Alexa.

Source: Amazon.com, Qualcomm to put Alexa assistant in more headphones

WEEKLY ISSUE: Glass Demand Gets an Apple-Related Boost

WEEKLY ISSUE: Glass Demand Gets an Apple-Related Boost



Adding Corning calls as glass demand to get an Apple-Related boost

Last week when Apple (AAPL) unveiled its new iPhone models, both the 8s and X, that have glass backing. While we suspect this new glass backing will lead to more iPhone repairs, others attending the Apple event had this to say:

“The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus look pretty much the same as their predecessors, but they have a new back cover that’s coated in glass and gives them a somewhat fresher look. The glass blends into the sides of the phone incredibly well, better than we’ve seen on other phones. There’s a subtle density to the glass, too, and overall it looks a lot better than the back of the 7. That glass back allows for wireless charging, which is one of the big new features here.”

As one might expect, Apple was on record saying the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus have “the most durable glass ever in a smartphone, front and back.” While we have yet to feel the device ourselves, the specs suggest an added heft that could be due to denser glass – iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are slightly heavier at 5.22 ounces and 7.13 ounces respectively, compared to 4.87 ounces and 6.63 ounces for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus respectively.

The key here is Apple’s shift to glass will likely drive incremental glass demand, much the way its shift to organic light emitting diode displays with the iPhone X is spurring demand for those products. If Apple sticks to its knitting it means deploying wireless charging across other iPhone models and perhaps iPads in the coming quarters. If we’re right that would lead to even more glass demand. Outside of Apple, we’re also seeing larger format TVs come to market that are also driving demand for glass while fiber to the home is driving glass demand as well. We also suspect there will be a fair amount of smartphone copycats that offer front and back glass on new smartphone models as well in the coming months. Again, more demand for glass, specialty materials, and coatings.

All of this bodes very well in our view for specialty glass and ceramics company, Corning (GLW), which derives 80% of its revenues and profits from the display, optical communication and specialty materials markets. With the iPhone 8 models starting to ship later this week followed by the early November release of the iPhone X, we’re adding the Corning (GLW) November 17, 2017, $31 calls (GLW171117C00031000) that closed last night at 0.62 to the Select List. The time frame allows us to capture the launches of both products as well as 3Q 2017 earnings season, which should shed light on carrier spending plans for the rest of 2017 and provide initial indications for 2018.


Applied Materials: Apple last week, company 2017 Analyst Day next week

As we shared yesterday, earlier this week Applied Materials (AMAT) shares received a new Buy rating and a $55 price target from RBC Capital Markets. This popped our Applied Materials (AMAT) October 20, 2017, 50 calls (AMAT171215C01000000), but then yesterday we saw a sharp reversal in the calls that brought them back to our entry point. We attribute the pullback to the sale of the memory chip semiconductor business by Toshiba Corp. to Bain Capital.

For context, that memory chip business was the number two producer of NAND flash memory used in USB drives, memory cards, and solid-state drives. We suspect the market is anticipating the usual cost-cutting moves when a business is taken over by a private equity group. The line item here would be spending on semiconductor capital equipment, but with the deal just being announced all we are seeing thus far is speculation. Odds are we’ll get a far clearer picture of what the fallout from this transaction means for Applied at its 2017 Analyst Day next week. As we communicated yesterday, given the strength of the semiconductor capital equipment business and still capacity constrained organic light emitting diode display industry, we expect Applied will once again offer an upbeat outlook for the coming quarters.


Housekeeping! Stopped out of Amazon Calls

Earlier this week we were stopped out of the Amazon (AMZN) December 2017 $1000 calls (AMZN171215C01000000) calls on the Tematica Options+ Select List when the calls triggered our 40.00 stop. Despite the move lower, the stop loss ensured a 16.8% return on the position – not one of the biggest, but then again it’s far better than the S&P 500 did over the last month.

As a reminder, we continue to have a Buy rating on the Wal-Mart (WMT) January 19, 2018, 82.50 calls (WMT180119C00082500) that closed last night at 2.25.

Visa & Mastercard mandating contactless payment terminals

Visa & Mastercard mandating contactless payment terminals

New technology adoption can be driven, primarily, by two forces – bubbling up based on consumer demand or pushed down due to a mandate from companies or the government. With contactless payments, we’ve seen consumer uptake grow as mobile payments, like Apple Pay, have come to smartphones and wearables. Now Mastercard  (MA) and Visa (V) are mandating payment terminals to include contactless payments by 2020. This should deliver a pronounced step up in contactless payments, but it also means an upgrade wave coming to payment terminals from Verifone (PAY), First Data (FDC), Ingenico and others.

Apple Pay should get a major lift within the next five years from a pair of factors, according to new research, most notably contactless support demanded by credit card giants Visa and Mastercard.

By 2020, both companies will require payment terminals in many markets to offer the technology, Juniper Research noted. The lack of compatible sales terminals has been a consistent obstacle in U.S. Apple Pay adoption, such that some retailers —like Anthropologie —have promised support for years without delivering.

Growth may also be aided by shoppers wanting to avoid the slower speeds of chip card transactions, which are presently replacing magnetic swipes.

U.S. contactless payments at retail are forecast to rise from 2 percent this year to 34 percent by 2022, Juniper said. Globally, figures are predicted to rise from 15 percent to 53 percent, reflecting the technology’s greater popularity in countries like Poland, Japan, and the U.K.

Source: Apple Pay likely to get boost from Visa & Mastercard mandating contactless payment terminals

Two More Thematic Tailwinds Are About to Change Healthcare

Two More Thematic Tailwinds Are About to Change Healthcare

Healthcare expenditures are being driven by a combination of our Aging of the Population and Rise & Fall of the Middle Class investing themes, but there are two other Tematica themes that are poised to change the how, where, when and why people consume healthcare — Connected Society and Disruptive Technology. There is little argument that today’s healthcare is filled with wasteful spending and paperwork but given connective platforms such as smartphones and wearables,  and disruptive technologies like apps, GPS, and sensors, healthcare is about to be turned on its head.

Last year Americans spent an amount equivalent to about 18% of GDP on health care. That is an extreme, but other countries face rising cost pressures from health spending as populations age.

In rich countries about one-fifth of spending on health care goes to waste, for example on wrong or unnecessary treatments. Eliminating a fraction of this sum is a huge opportunity.

Consumers seem readier to accept digital products than just a few years ago. The field includes mobile apps, telemedicine—health care provided using electronic communications—and predictive analytics (using statistical methods to sift data on outcomes for patients). Other areas are automated diagnoses and wearable sensors to measure things like blood pressure.If there is to be a health-care revolution, it will create winners and losers.

Andy Richards, an investor in digital health, argues that three groups are fighting a war for control of the “health-care value chain”.One group comprises “traditional innovators”—pharmaceutical firms, hospitals and medical-technology companies such as GE Healthcare, Siemens, Medtronic and Philips.

A second category is made up of “incumbent players”, which include health insurers, pharmacy-benefit managers (which buy drugs in bulk), and as single-payer health-care systems such as Britain’s NHS.

The third group are the technology “insurgents”, including Google, Apple, Amazon and a host of hungry entrepreneurs that are creating apps, predictive-diagnostics systems and new devices. These firms may well profit most handsomely from the shift to digital.The threat to the traditional innovators is that as medical records are digitised and new kinds of patient data arrive from genomic sequencing, sensors and even from social media, insurers and governments can get much better insight into which treatments work. These buyers are increasingly demanding “value-based” reimbursement—meaning that if a drug or device doesn’t function well, it will not be bought.

Overall, telemedicine is expected to grow rapidly. In America, GPs will conduct 5.4m video consultations a year by 2020, says IHS Markit, a research firm. Britain’s NHS is testing a medical AI from a London-based startup called Babylon which can field patients’ questions about their health. A paid service called Push Doctor offers an online appointment almost immediately for £20 ($24).

Source: The wonder drug: A digital revolution in health care is speeding up | The Economist

Feeling Sick? Check Your Wearable To Be Sure

Feeling Sick? Check Your Wearable To Be Sure

Exercise and movement tracking as well as messaging have been cited as some of the top reason people buy wearable devices like the Apple Watch, Fitbit Flex or Charge, or others from Samsung, Huawei, Sony and even Tag Heuer. As we’ve seen with the smartphone, there are far more applications than originally thought and this is proving to be true with wearables as well. A new study from Stanford University School of Medicine found that wearables can potentially let us know when we’re getting sick. Imagine being able to send that one person home from work who denies being sick, but may infect others in the office. Just check their wearable stats and send them home!

By equipping 60 people with several activity monitors—most people got a Basis smartwatch—the researchers collected close to 2 billion measurements, including heart rate, sleep, fitness, weight, skin temperature and blood oxygen levels. Using this information, they showed it is possible to identify abnormal changes in a person’s typical vital signs, which could signal a change in their health. The findings were published in the journal PLOS Biology.

Study author Michael Snyder, professor and chair of genetics at Stanford, learned that he was getting sick from the feedback he was getting from his own wearable devices. When he was flying to Norway for vacation, Snyder—who was wearing seven biosensors—noticed abnormal changes in his heart rate and blood oxygen levels. When his levels didn’t return to normal, he thought something might be wrong. He soon came down with a fever and was eventually diagnosed with Lyme disease.

Source: Wearables Can Tell When You’re Getting Sick | TIME