A rapidly growing trend with increasing applications and affordability, the wearable technology phenomenon may soon prove itself to be more than a passing fad.
Most people, if they know anything at all of wearable technology, might think of a status symbol like the Apple Watch, or perhaps a mechanism to measure physical stats with exactitude.
But as wearable technology becomes increasingly more affordable, many undiscovered applications are also materializing.
Oh yes, it is an exciting time for wearable technology:
The ultimate intersection between fashion and emerging technologies, art and science, man and machine!
What is wearable technology?
Wearable technology, or ‘wearables,’ include any electronic device or gadget that can be worn on your body.
One of the most well-known wearable technology devices that comes to mind is the classic fitness tracker.
There are dozens of fitness tracker devices with countless features and styles doing everything from tracking your steps to measuring your heart rate–
All in the hopes of delivering the most accurate picture of your workout and overall fitness.
But that’s just the tip of the wearable tech iceberg!
Fashion & technology: Fashiontech for short
Sometimes called fashion tech, fashion and technology are mingling and merging in a fascinating new market that’s bringing us:
- wearable cameras
- smart watches
- fashion apps
- wearable LED lights
- solar fashiontech
- smart leggings that take your clothing measurements
- heart rate monitors
- smart denim
- and GPS wearable technology.
Consider the way our lives can change as we take the interconnected world we’ve created online and start making it more accessible in the tangible.
Science fiction? We’re living it.
Productivity enhancing ‘tech-cessories’ like Google Glass and the Apple Watch are bound to grow more common and increasingly sophisticated as we appear to approach technological singularity.
And on the opposite dimension, fashion designers and titans of industry are constantly dreaming up new ways to create apparel, accessories, and activewear that can do everything from charge your smartphone to react to your thoughts.
Wearable Technology – The Future of Fashion
Still think that wearable technology is just a passing trend?
From the practical to the fantastic, a look at this list of real fashion companies pushing the limits of technology…
Or are they technology brands pushing the limits of fashion?
Wearable Technology That Produces Your Own Private Ozone
In the future, our own personal air purifier may defend us from all that nasty air outside. (So hopefully we can save money on bottled air.)
The OZ-1 “necklace” is integrated with the technology of an ozone generator and HEPA filter, which perform as an air purifier.
It was created by Wei Kiat Law, a finalist in the 2013 Electrolux Design Lab Competition.
This device also functions as a solution to the problem of second-hand smoke.
It is able to trap the smell of tar and chemicals produced from burning cigarettes.
Furthermore, with a built-in atomiser, fragrance essence is converted into fine mist.
When the device is activated, it will auto dispense fragrant air from the device.
Pretty legit, right?
SolarTech Meets Fashion Design
Charging cables may be a thing of the past sooner than you think.
New, flexible solar panels are making it possible for designers to create clothing that is as functional as it is fashionable and the same goes for stylish accessories that double as tech equipment.
Wearable Solar is a start-up that’s empowering it’s apparel with energy from the sun.
Using solar technology to make lightweight wired garments, the shirt produces around 1W of electricity in bright sunlight—
Enough to charge a typical phone in a few hours.
It can charge a variety of devices and electricity can also be stored for later use in the shirt’s battery pack, which is seamlessly hidden in the front pocket.
Even Solartech Luggage
And then of course there’s New York-based Voltaic Systems, which offers an assortment of functional bags that can charge a variety of devices.
Wearable Hologram Technology
Wearables that cleanse the environment and harness clean energy are pretty cool, but here’s something that fashion fiends can really get excited about.
The Rainbow Winters clothing line is making wearable technology garments that actually respond to changes in their environment.
And last I checked, Rainbow Winters has at least 10 other wearable technology projects in the works besides this one.
Some, like the Petal Dress, respond to changes in the lighting.
Other fashion tech prototypes react to moisture, and still others respond to sound!
Gaze-Activated Wearable Technology
If you thought the color-changing Petal Dress was cool, hold on to your seat.
Using eye-tracking technology, fashion designer Ying Gao has created a series of dresses that respond with movement when someone is looking at them.
The garment can actually detect when it is being looked at, and responds by activating tiny motors which move parts of it in swirling patterns.
As if that’s not enough, this dress is covered in photo-luminescent and glow-in-the-dark threads for added visual intrigue.
Wearable Tracking Technology
Because things get lost pretty easily in a walk-in closet. #FirstWorldProblems
All jokes aside, why wouldn’t you want to keep track of your favorite fashion garments, items, and trinkets if there was an easy way to do it?
This goes beyond just wearable technology with gadgets for keeping tabs on your wallet and your car keys–
The applications may change, but the essential need for a way to track tangible goods will only grow more persistent for as long as we live in a physical world.
In a demo at the front of Fashion Week house, Levine showed how the TrackR app will make garments “ring” when activated at the click of a button.
And if the lost item isn’t nearby, the app will locate it in Google Maps.
The super-thin microchip can be sewn into compartments in gloves, coats, and hats–
The Sounds of Fashion
This marriage between audio technology and high-end accessory design is one of the most aesthetically pleasing innovations I’ve seen come of the wearable technology movement.
Rebecca Minkoff has made four ultra-sophisticated clutches that encase speakers for Stellé Audio Couture.
I particularly like this Metallic Purple version.
*Adds to wishlist*
Fitness Technology Brings Us These Smart Athletic Socks
The software start-up Heapsylon has created smart sock called Sensoria that may change the way we exercise.
The sock is paired with an anklet to automatically detect the type and level of activity based on pressure signals coming from the foot of the wearer, who can then access this data from a mobile app.
More than just a pedometer, it can track a runner’s regular form and send an alert if he or she is making an injurious movement.
As a running enthusiast myself, I can see this being particularly useful in keeping my weak knees safe from harm.
The Latest in Sports Bra Technology
This NuMetrix sports bra, love-child of Textronics and Adidas, is made of “smart fabric” wearable technology that incorporates special sensing fiber electrodes knit directly into the garment.
The fabric moves with the wearer while sensors, which are soft enough to not be felt on the skin, monitor your heart rate with great accuracy and send the data to a transmitter that snaps into the garment (sold separately.)
Wearable LED Technology – Moon Berlin
Up and coming luxury fashion label Moon Berlin focuses on using technology to enhance the look of its designs, like this dazzling cocktail dress with LED lights:
Soft-circuit LEDs are laced throughout the garments and connected to an electrical circuit that is integrated into fabrics, and the product is shipped with a rechargable battery and charger.
This wearable tech masterpiece would really dazzle at a New Years Eve Party, don’t you think?
3D Printing Brings Us The Fashiontech to Design & Print Our Own Clothes
3D printers are becoming more mainstream and available for personal use, and as such we can expect to enjoy more personalization of our clothes and accessories.
Take it from this fashion student, who took it upon herself to 3D print her entire graduate collection at home.
Even more interesting however, with the advent of 3D printing, we can expect a shift in haute couture as materials change and boundaries are pushed.
3D printing allows for gravity-defying designs that just can’t be done with traditional clothing manufacturing methods like sewing and embroidery.
Fashion Wearables Controlled By Thought
Lastly and possibly coolest of all, the NEUROTiQ headdress by SENSOREE exhibits a rainbow of colors in response to the wearers brainwaves.
This little number debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2014, in all it’s colorful 3D-printed EEG brain sensing splendor.
Supposedly, creators spent 76 hours printing it and 61 hours knitting the piece!