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On Innovation. A Conversation with Philippe Kahn

by Roberto V. Zicari on February 6, 2023

 I always think about a graduate class called “Invent.” Innovation has to be based more on spark than process. “

I asked ten questions on innovation to Philippe Kahn back in February 2006. Now this is a new revision…


Q1. What is Innovation for you?

Philippe Kahn: Innovation is a key success ingredient for science, business, and personal growth. It is all about bringing something new: New ideas, new devices, and new methods. 

Q2. What pivotal role did your parents play in your personal development?

Philippe Kahn: Yes, I grew up with a single Mom, my hero. Here Wikipedia speaks for itself: Clair Monis.

Q3. Besides a master’s in mathematics, you also received a master’s in musicology composition and classical flute performance. Did music influence your career as an entrepreneur? How?

Philippe Kahn: Playing music is part of my daily practice. My Mom, a concert violinist, would make me practice 30 minutes before going to school. This has become a daily life discipline like meditation. I play both Jazz and classical music daily. 

Q4. You are credited with creating the first camera phone. You had a vision, but this did not materialize at that time. What is the main lesson you learned from this?

Philippe Kahn: Pioneering visions never materialize instantly. We created the first working prototype in 1997, launched it in Japan toward the end of 1999, then in the US in 2002. In 2007 Steve Jobs and Apple launched the iPhone, and the market grew. Here is a helpful link

Q5. You are also credited with being a pioneer in wearable technology. This developed into Fullpower-AI: AI-modeled biosensing algorithms and embedded AI Machine Learning solutions and generative AI for Synthetic trial augmentation. What obstacles did you have to overcome, to make this vision reality? Who helped you to make it a reality?

Philippe Kahn: Our team at Fullpower-AI created the first iteration of our IoT biosensing platform. We thought that the first application was for wearables. We built complete solutions for Nike and launched Nike Running solutions. We also licensed our technology to Jawbone in 2011. It is all internal development: Device, sensing, firmware, security, cloud, and actionable insights. Now we are focused on digital transformation with our IoT/AIoT biosensing platform. Our goal is to help transform sleep, cosmetics, wellness, and medicine by leveraging our platform. 

Q6. What do you consider are the current most promising innovations that will have an impact in the near future?

Philippe Kahn:. We all know of the impact of generative AI on creating content such as text, music, and graphics. It’s helpful to many, but there may be a few hints of plagiarism. I think that generative AI could be helpful in helping people develop better writing, musical, and graphic skills. However, the most promising applications of AI are in wellness, health, and medicine. We may finally make significant progress in tackling challenges such as Alzheimer’s, Cancer, etc. All this is possible because of the combination of IoT, AIoT, biosensing, and deep learning. 

Q7. In 2006 you mentioned that Vision, Leadership, and Perseverance were in your opinion the top 3 criteria for successful Innovation. Did you change your mind in the meanwhile?

Philippe Kahn: Yes, Vision, Leadership, and Perseverance are key. Let’s sprinkle a bit of luck too. With Fullpower-AI and our IoT/AIoT platform, we were early in 2010, now we look like an “overnight success!’

Q8. What is a culture that supports and sustains Innovation?

Philippe Kahn: No matter what size, visionary leadership is key. It’s necessary but sometimes not sufficient. Augmenting the teams with the best talent is key while setting up non-invasive disciplined processes. 

Q9. What should be taught in universities to help Innovation that is currently missing in your opinion?

Philippe Kahn: I always think about a graduate class called “Invent.” Innovation has to be based more on spark than process. 

Q10. You and your wife Sonia run the Lee-Kahn Foundation. Tell us a bit about it.

Philippe Kahn: Yes, we like to focus on the environment, in particular wild life, animal welfare, and conservation. Our founding vision is utopian, yet something we can get behind. It reads like this: “May our children and our children’s children enjoy better health and be able to hear the howl of a Wolf Pack in the wild, experience the magic of Dolphins playing with the ocean waves, drink pure water from every stream… “


Philippe Kahn is a highly successful serial entrepreneur who founded a number of leading companies, including Fullpower-AI, LightSurf, Starfish Technologies, and Borland.


On Innovation.  Archive of interviews (2006-now)

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