13 Product Trends from Wearable Technology in Fashion
Wearable technology and fashion is a marriage that has bloomed beautifully in the last couple of years. First, wearables came along and captivated a market that was stuck with PCs and smartphones. What could be more exciting than having a mini computer on your wrist? Then, fashion and tech innovators came up with ways to combine clothing with wearables and it has been runaway innovation ever since.
In October, Silicon Valley joined a list of other glamorous locations – Paris, New York, London – to have hosted a fashion week. But this one was different, really different. It was a wearable technology fashion show. While other fashion events show off new cuts, shapes and colors, Silicon Valley brought a lot of tech to the runway. There were headphones that could be worn as a necklace, an LED crown escorted down the runway by a drone and an LED handbag whose look can be changed using an app (see source).
2016 was a great year for wearables. Consequently, it was also a great year for fashion wearables. Companies have come up with increasingly innovative ways to incorporate wearable technologies into clothes and accessories. The results have been nothing short of amazing. From clothes that change color to handbags that can recharge your iPhone, we have witnessed plenty of innovation.
Considering that clothes are an integral part of living, it makes sense to incorporate technology that can help us at a moment’s notice. This is just the beginning of what can be achieved when fashion and technology come together. While we have seen some pretty amazing things, more is yet to come. In the next five years, wearable technology in fashion will be a normal thing. In a decade, you might not need to carry your smartphone or any other device around. It will all be in what you are wearing.
Below, we look at the major areas where the two fields have intersected and the most notable products that have grown out of this fusion. We also look ahead to 2020 and beyond, attempting to predict the advances that will have come about in wearable fashion tech.
E-textiles, also called smart clothing or simple electronic textiles, are the embodiment of wearable fashion technology. E-textiles contain embedded electronics either for the purpose of adding aesthetic value or for added function or both. These fabrics contain anything from sensors to LED lights and even solar panels.
At the basic level, e-textiles are designed for aesthetic purposes. You might find a dress that lights up in pretty colors or a pair of pants whose color you can change at the touch of a button. There are fabrics that display special colors when exposed to certain types of lighting.
One of the innovations allowing such creations is color-changing threads. As part of a Project Jacquard, Google has created special threads that can change color and allow fabrics to be used as interactive surfaces. The metal and synthetic threads are used in the same way as traditional yarn but come with embedded electronics to enable gesture and touch interactivity.
At a more advanced level, companies are creating fabrics with plenty of added functions. A good example is in the fitness and activity tracking industry. Sports bras, shirts and shorts are embedded with sensors and used to track metrics like heart rate, temperature and muscle performance. This data can then be uploaded to a connected device.
1. Lumo Run
Lumo Run is a pair of shorts that can track a variety of running metrics including cadence, speed, ground contact time and stride length.
OMbra is another smart wear designed to help women track their running. It can monitor your heart rate, breathing, distance, time and cadence.
3. Hexoskin Smart
Away from fitness, there are many other fields where e-textiles are finding their use and could be put to further use in the future. For instance, wearable technology clothing can be used in remote health monitoring. Sensor-embedded wear can monitor the health status of remote patients.
In the military, smart clothing is aiding in areas like tracking, communication and health monitoring. In one application that certainly stands out, patients that have lost sensation in a certain part of the body can regain it using e-fabrics.
We have only started exploring the ways e-textiles can help us. As wearable technology gets better and interest in e-textiles rises, we are bound to see more advanced applications. Fields of payment technology, remote health monitoring, communication and internet of things will be drastically altered. These advancements will introduce new possibilities that we could never have imagined.
2. Wearable Jewelry and Accessories
E-textiles are certainly a big part of fashion wearables but they are not the only one. After all, it’s not only clothes that we put on our bodies; jewelry and accessories are an essential part of fashion. They are also opportunities to incorporate more tech into daily wear.
One of the obvious ways to turn jewelry and accessories into tech accessories is to embed them with sensors. The most common way to put these sensors to use is in fitness and activity tracking. But they can also be used in remote health monitoring, making payments and location tracking.
4. Intel Curie powered bracelet
The New York fashion brand, TOME has collaborated with Intel to a smart bracelet to track activity and deliver phone alerts.
5. Senstone smart pendant
Senstone is planning a smart pendant that can be worn on a bracelet or necklace. It is a disguised sound recorder you can use to record your thoughts and translates them into text later on when you connect to your smartphone.
Ringly has a smart finger ring that uses haptic feedback to alert you to any SMS, email, call or app alerts.
By far, the most ubiquitous wearable tech jewelry is the Smartwatch. Smartwatches have become so common and so advanced that they feel more like tech gadgets than fashion accessories. Everyone from Apple to Sony and Samsung has theirs. While most smartwatches focus on fitness and health monitoring, they are quickly evolving to become mini-computers with the ability to operate independently from a connected phone.
Wearable jewelry is also proving to be a great opportunity to expand on payments technology. Smartwatches are already being used for contactless payments. Next, companies will embed NFC sensors in rings, bracelets and necklaces.
As for accessories, handbags are the biggest targets for wearable tech. We have already seen a collection of high tech handbags including some embedded with solar panels and others with phone charging compartments.
Everpurse comes with a specialized charging pocket where you can slide your iPhone to recharge it. The handbag itself recharges when placed on a special mat.
8. Mighty Purse
Mighty Purse comes with a small cable that can recharge any smartphone with a micro USB port.
9. Power Purse
A Power Purse is simultaneously embedded with solar panels and a phone charging component to keep you on throughout the day.
As with smart clothing, makers of wearable jewelry have to provide the best in terms of both style and function. It is a tricky trade of creating devices that provided the best technology without resorting to a geeky and clunky design. When it comes to wearables, the aesthetics are just as much of a priority as the tech inside them.
3. High Tech Shoes
The wearable movement does not stop at your pants or bracelet. With the wearable tech advancing at such a rapid pace, it now goes down to your feet. Wearable footwear has picked up pace in the last year or two. These high tech shoes are not only designed to look cool, they also come with added features such as fitness tracking, balance improvement and to help runners improve their performance.
As with most other wearable wear, embedded sensors do most of the work with perhaps a few flashy LEDs for a cool style. Here are a few of the notable footwear innovations in the wearable tech sector.
10. Altra IQ
Altra-IQ are sensor-embedded running shoes that monitor various metrics during your run and give you live feedback to improve your form and performance. Some of the metrics they track include cadence, distance, ground contact time and stride length.
Walkasins is not exactly a show but an insole that helps improve balance especially among the elderly. The insole has sensors to measure foot pressure and guide the wearer on how to walk for better balance.
12. ReTisense Stridalyzer
ReTisense Stridalyzer is another insole designed to help runners improve their performance, lessen the risk of injury and monitor various metrics.
13. Digitsole Smartshoe
Digitsole Smart Shoe offers a number of smart features. It can change temperature, helping to keep the wearer’s feet warm when it is cold. They can track your activities throughout the day and even tell you how many calories you have burned.
They can automatically tighten to provide a perfect fit for the wearer’s feet and finally, they claim to be the first shows to offer shock absorption. This will definitely be a great thing for people with joint problems. The shoes come with Bluetooth 4.0 to wirelessly connect with your smartphone.
Smart footwear is mostly useful in the fitness and activity tracking field. But with time, you might see companies coming up with some unexpected ways to use smart shoes. There are already prototypes of shoes that can harness energy and charge your phone. So do not be surprised if in a few years, you can do all sorts of things with your shoes from payments to playing music.
Future of Fashion Industry: Predictions for 2020 and Beyond
With technology moving at such a blinding pace, it can sometimes be difficult to see the road ahead. Before you even have a chance to process a new technology, another comes zipping along, demanding consumers’ attention and money.
With the current rate of technological advancement, we expect some big achievements in the field of fashion wearables over the next 5 or so years. And not just some cooler looking wearables to dazzle your friends but immensely beneficial wearables that vastly improve quality of life. Here are the notable future fashion trends 2020 and beyond.
There will be better and more accurate fitness and health tracking clothes and wearables that even professional athletes can rely on. Imagine a shirt that can track everything from your heart rate to your core body temperature and even skin health.
The same shirt could have the ability to track your health status by analyzing the sweat you produce. Maybe it can even tell you how polluted your environment is. These are just a few of the amazing possibilities that can be achieved with more collaboration and better technology.
Away from fitness and health, there are many other areas that will benefit from these advancements in the coming years. Imagine being able to change every aspect of your outfit using an app. You could seamlessly switch from office wear to casual dinner clothes in two seconds. The color-changing threads we mentioned earlier will aid in this.
If not for the purpose of looking chic, then imagine wearable fashion that can be embedded with digital display. You can display various graphics on your clothes or enjoy cat videos on your sweater as you take a train ride home. If that’s too much, imagine wear that comes embedded with music storage. Just put on your headphones and connect wirelessly to the music in your shoes.
Further out in the future, you could have shoes that help the disabled walk, eyeglasses that help the blind see and hats that help relieve stress.
With so many companies investing millions in researching new applications of wearable fashion tech, it is virtually impossible to predict everything that we will see in the next few years. Apart from a few general predictions, the only thing we can be sure of is that the partnership between fashion and wearable technology will continue growing stronger.
We are going to see a proliferation of new technology and stylish devices. Hopefully, there will be a market big enough and hungry enough for all the new innovations.
Which fashion wearable technology impresses you the most? Feel free to leave your comments below.