Smarty Pants: the wave of the future
Over the past 10 years there have been many advances in the “smart clothing” field. What started out as an experimental niche has grown beyond the confines of developing high performance wear for soldiers, rescue personnel, or professional athletes. There are now companies racing to be at the forefront of designing “normal” looking garments with built in technology for the general public. These garments will do things such as recording and transmitting data about the wearer to enhance performance, health, or experience, or even adapting to the wearer’s environment or condition of health to provide comfort. Before we know it, clothing with built in technology will be as ubiquitous as the iPhone.The most obvious use for smart clothing is for people looking to get the most from their workouts; they can monitor their progress towards a goal and also make tweaks to their routine based on data from their devices. Some examples of the kinds of technology that already exists for these needs are featured above.
(click on the gallery to find out a bit more about the products)
Health, and wellness outside of the gym is also a very understandable opportunity for this technology. There are already products available that can monitor biometric data such as heart rate, breathing rate, perspiration levels, and more; this information is recorded and sent wirelessly to the user’s cell phone. Samsung has developed a belt that has built in technology to advise if you have put on a little weight and also alerts you if you have been sitting for too long. Items being are developed for the armed forces which will instruct a soldier if he is deficient of certain vitamins and nutrients so his diet or supplements can be a adjusted accordingly. As with many technologies that get their initial start being researched for the military, we could eventually see features of this kind make their way onto mainstream products. Another area that can really make an impact is monitoring babies’ health. There are booties and caps that have been developed to track the vitals of newborns as they sleep.
Connectivity and convenience are other features that you will soon be able to count on from your clothes. There are many companies out there working hard to bring you communications and data retrieval by acting as a conduit to your phone. You will be able to receive alerts from social media accounts, messages from friends, and phonecalls from mom, all from your jacket or dress. Talk about being connected! Here is a futuristic and beautiful design, Ping, from Electric Foxy, which has some of the features listed above:
As smart clothing eventually expands its reach from very specified and practical applications to everyday wear, the newest innovations will bring us clothing that is environmentally adaptable, and that can provide conveniences and data at our fingertips. To be commercially viable, though, smart clothing will need to not only perform, but be wearable, functional, and attractive. In other words, it can’t look like your are wearing some kind of a sci-fi costume; the technology will have more appeal to consumers when it can be effectively hidden as much as the wearer would want it to be. To achieve this, more technology will be woven right into fabrics - even traditional fibers such as cotton, silk, and wool - so it can be incorporated into wearable and beautiful garments; we won't have to sacrifice aesthetics for function.
Some companies are already developing this quite well. Through its special project Jacquard, Google has collaborated with iconic brand, Levis, to produce a conductive yarn that combine thin metallic alloys with traditional fibers. This month at SWxS, they introduced their Commuter Jacket, a smart spin on the iconic denim jacket. The jacket allows the wearer to access features with simple taps and swipes along the arm of the jacket. Spider silk has been somewhat of a holy grail for those who have been working decades on cutting edge fibers. With a tensile strength higher than steel and an amazing flexibility and adaptability, it can have a wide range of applications especially in performance wear, but also in military gear and the medical industry. Companies like Japan's Spiber, and California's Bolt Threads have been working for years to develop synthetic spider silk fibers that can be woven into cloth that will have many attractive features. They are collaborating with established apparel brands like Patagonia and North Face to produce performance clothing to exceed their customers' already high expectations from those brands. Products are expected to be ready for consumers by the end of 2017.
For more in depth reading, take a peek at the market analysis report of this sector published by the Sutardja Center at UCAL-Berkley.
With so many exciting advances and innovative features being introduced all the time, it is clear smart clothing could soon be a part of everyone's wardrobe. If smart clothing is the wave of the future, the future is looking bright!
Our Bright Future trend celebrates the advances that we can look forward to while still embracing the aesthetic of handmade graphics and natural motifs.
* We intend no copyright infringement by displaying images from other sources on our site. Unless otherwise noted, all images are the property of their respective owners.