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Jawbone CEO: Wearable makers need “a level of personal taste that our industry hasn’t been used to”

Jawbone has been a nimble hardware company over the last few years, moving from Bluetooth headsets to wireless speakers to fitness trackers. But its future may actually lie in software.

“When we started the company, we were trying to build (Apple’s) Siri,” said Hosain Rahman, CEO of Jawbone, at Structure Connect on Tuesday. “We didn’t start with the concept of building a device, the device was the vehicle” for a user experience designed to take the complexity out of communication with its wireless headsets, Rahman said.

But now that wearable computing devices are gaining steam, the value in the product shifts to the software developers and product designers that can appeal to lots of different types of people, and it sounds like that means the hardware market is about to branch off in dozens of different directions.

“There is no one size that fits all in this space,” Rahman said. “Because it’s on your body, there’s a level of personal taste that our industry hasn’t been used to. (It’s) way beyond design thinking; it’s beauty, it’s fashion.”

Rahman said that Jawbone has a “five-year plan” for additional sensor technologies that will probably fit inside stylish hardware. But over time, like a lot of companies, Jawbone would like to see its products become a platform for other companies to build experiences that really bring wearable computing to another level.

“We have well over 2,000 developers that are building app stuff we never dreamed up. It does take a system to solve this,” Rahman said.

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Photo by Jakub Mosur

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