Input Solicited from Clinical Research Community on Expanded Open Wearables Initiative

Geoffrey Gill, President, Shimmer Americas

As it begins its second year of activities, the Open Wearables Initiative (OWEAR) is evaluating a significant expansion of its vision and seeking industry input to build consensus.

The initiative was founded in September 2019 as an industry collaboration to promote the effective use of high-quality, sensor-generated measures of health in clinical research. OWEAR has already achieved much of its original vision, building an online community which makes open source algorithms and wearable datasets more accessible, and instituting a benchmarking program to evaluate algorithms. Its vision is to provide the industry with a searchable database of these algorithms and their source codes for free use by everyone to help streamline drug development and enable digital medicine.

“We are excited and energized by what OWEAR has been able to achieve in its first year,” says Geoffrey Gill, OWEAR cofounder and president of Shimmer Americas, part of the Shimmer Research wearable technologies services and sensor manufacturing company based in Dublin, Ireland. “We also recognize that there are other meaningful ways in which OWEAR could employ open source software and collaborate to develop accepted digital endpoints. As OWEAR is most effective when we all work together, we decided to solicit input from the entire clinical research community to shape our expanded vision.”

OWEAR’s progress to date has been guided by its 22-member Working Group, which includes participants from Shimmer Research, Nextbridge Health, Accelting, Sage Bionetworks, DiMe, Pfizer, Merck, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, PRA Health Sciences, the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI), and the IEEE Standards Association.

As the OWEAR Working Group realized the extent of the industry’s need and desire for this level of collaboration, it began to consider additional programs. For example, it is now developing OWEAR’s first benchmark for the accuracy and reliability of gait assessment algorithms. Precise gait measurements are vitally important because they are used as a diagnostic and prognostic tool for neurological conditions, a general assessment of aging, and as a proxy for evaluating cognition. The OWEAR Gait Challenge is envisioned to act as a template for future challenges around other wearable sensor–based digital outcomes.

OWEAR’s Working Group has defined several new areas where the organization could play a pivotal role. These include providing support for developers, creating open databases, initiating broader validation efforts, and setting industry standards.

Industry stakeholders are encouraged to share their views on these potential new programs and other areas of interest with OWEAR at Those who would consider sponsoring the OWEAR Gait Challenge are encouraged to contact Adam Litke at to obtain additional details about the program.

Edited by Gary Cramer