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STEPHEN LAKE ON DREAMS AND FEARS OF TECHNOLOGY

Stephen Lake’s entrepreneurial journey began at the age of 12 when he first made a small radio-control & LED-lighting business in his parents’ basement.

At one point his friends saw how cool his products were and asked Stephen to build ones for them as well. Next thing he knew, he had a full e-commerce set up and was importing LEDs from China, assembling products in their basement and begging his mom to let him use their vacuum sealer so he could ship them. Since then technology and entrepreneurship have been his passions.

Now, 26 years old, he is the Co-Founder and CEO of Thalmic Labs, which has just launched their revolutionary Myo-armband. Myo allows the user to control electronic appliances with hand motions and different body movements. They are also working on other applications of wearable technology. He did not want to give us too much info about the new things they have in store for us in the future.

Self-proclaimed fan of Fenno-Scandinavian design and industrial product design, he has only visited Finland very briefly. He is thrilled to return to Finland as he enjoyed his short stay very much. He found the Finns helpful and caring. “Everyone was very friendly and I had great conversations with them.” This clashes heavily against the typical stereotype of Finns as the grumpy, quiet type. He claims he’s never heard of that stereotype.

Stephen looked forward to meeting Finnish entrepreneurs and designers at SHIFT, also wishing to see the future of tech-industry in from a Finnish point-of-view. In his opinion, all the key points of SHIFT are intriguing topics and have rapidly seen many different innovations. He is very curious to see what will happen in the next five to twenty years and hoping that SHIFT could shed some light into his predictions.

Stephen’s biggest dream, and the most exciting side, of technology is the way we are going to proceed in using the technology we have with humans. Will we start to see the first cyborgs, or even super humans, in our midst? Will we be able to push the boundaries in a way so that we can increase the lifespan and living conditions of humans? We might receive an omnipresent technology that is present in our everyday lives and can give us power and knowledge we never thought was possible.

However, his greatest fear of technology is right next to his dreams. What if we go too far with it? He takes virtual reality as an example. It is amazing, out of this world. But what if we end up in a virtual world and get stuck into the fantasies we have created for ourselves? Social interactions fade and the very foundations we have built our civilization on may crumble when cyber-reality arises. How can we surround ourselves with technology while not pulling ourselves away from the real world? This is both an opportunity and a threat.

This is where augmented reality comes into place. Trying to get the best of the both worlds and combine them to help the world is one of Thalmic Labs’ goals. For example, brain examinations, prosthetics and such. Thalmic Labs doesn’t recognize themselves as a medical company though. Most of the technology is consumer products that were never aimed for health-care. But bit by bit the technology has been applied to medicine and to other industries. All it takes is an idea. On the other hand, virtual reality has been used for something called “serious gaming”, which means the use of VR technology to receive a medical result. For example, some rehab-centers use virtual reality to aid patients to get rid of their bad habits and addictions.

Text: Katri