The State of Wearable Technology
The Wearable Tech Consumers Can Find Useful in Daily Life
The hybridization of clothing and electronics first appeared on the radar of average consumers in the early 2010s with the showcasing of Google Glass. While this product ended a forgotten commercial failure, Glass has found use in manufacturing and industry. The augmentation of reality, through smart applications and quick access to the Internet, however, has become mainstream through apps available on consumer smartphones. As manufacturing processes become more streamlined and cost efficient, a decreased cost of production will plausibly lead to realistic prices for consumers to add smart glasses to their collection of connected devices.
One common addition the average person’s growing selection of technology is the smartwatch, as the market offers a wide selection at all price points and levels of connectivity. The Apple Watch is one popular choice, due to its integration with the Apple smart ecosystem, and allows the user to access apps and send texts and phone calls from their wrist. Android users might find a similar smartwatch available from their platform manufacturer of choice. Other options include specialized fitness trackers to record miles walked and activity. While many fitness trackers and by extension smartwatches are purely utilitarian and for use at the gym or on runs, stylish options exist; many companies have invested in creating “hybrid” smartwatches, which at first glance appear to be normal mechanical timepieces. Oftentimes, a closer inspection reveals that many fitness trackers include a small screen for notification access or a heart rate tracker. The continued market interest in wrist-mounted smart devices has even led to high-end fashion companies such as Hermès cashing in by providing bands for Apple Watches. Louis Vuitton produces their own highly customizable smartwatch and even true Swiss watchmakers such as Tag Heuer (owned by Louis Vuitton) have unveiled smartwatches available to the public.
As mobile technology continues to improve in power and form, companies are beginning to integrate smart technology in more unconventional ways to create smart clothing. Recently, Google and Levi’s revealed their second iteration of Jacquard: a collaboration to create a connected smart jacket. This new innovation combines the classic looks of Levi’s denim trucker jackets with the power of Google’s Assistant and interaction with the user’s smartphone from the cuff of a sleeve. Jacquard also released a project with Saint Laurent, a smart backpack with an integrated touchpad in a shoulder strap, along with a vibration motor and notification light.
It’s clear that smart accessories have already made an impact on the consumer, and that high-end fashion will continue to pave the way with smart clothing. Google innovates with Glass and Jacquard, having created smart fibers that can be woven into fabrics. New smart clothing technologies are constantly created both by small tech startups and established giants. As America moves toward more technological connectivity with smart homes and AI integration, clothing is bound to be drawn into the mix. In the meantime, accessorizing seems to be the way to go until smart clothing options further develop.