I mentioned in a previous article how the market for electronic wearables has taken a dip over the past year. While my piece cited factors like design discrepancies as one of the main reasons behind this downward trend, it also seems that consumers are looking for more practical and presentable electronic wearables to incorporate in their everyday routines than gadgets that are strictly tech-oriented. With the electronic wearables industry projected to hit $19 billion over the next year, some drastic changes were necessary regarding the direction this sect of the electronic sector was heading.
Highlighting what could be the future direction that electronic wearables take, tech giant Google and fashion giant Levis have collaboratively developed a smart jean jacket that inconspicuously incorporates wearable technology in its design. The biggest insight Google and Levis’ smart jacket offers is that the future of electronic wearables will be one where consumers won’t have to worry about lugging around heavy accessories built into their outfits.
With the technology woven into the jacket’s fibers, wearers have access to features like receiving phone calls, getting directions, and checking the time by simply tapping or swiping their sleeves. The information is delivered through a pair of headphones so the wearer’s eyes can stay focused on the road or any particular task. The smart fibers are washable and powered by a removable cufflink that has a two-day battery life.
While the smart jacket’s main focus is to help its wearers solve everyday problems derived from distractions caused by fiddling with electronics and other smart devices, its developers have a specific audience in mind – people who commute to and from work via bike riding.
“I think that the commuter jacket from Levi’s is really perfect because it’s focused on a single consumer audience,” says Sidney Morgan-Petro, retail editor at the trend forecasting firm WGSN. “It has the cyclist in mind and is targeting what their needs are.”
With a starting price hovering around $350, the smart jacket is expected to be publicly available this fall.
Google and Levis aren’t the first giants in their respective industries to collaborate on developing smart wearable products whose technological fingerprint isn’t glaringly evident through its appearance. Many industry giants in the fashion and tech fields are partnering up with aims of developing similarly-natured products.
“Where smartwatches were once expected to take the lead, basic wearables now reign supreme,” says Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for the analysis firm International Data Corporation. “From a design perspective, many devices are focusing on fashion first while allowing the technology to blend in with the background.”
Companies like Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, and Under Armour have respectively linked up with different tech companies to produce innovative electronic wearables. While most of these products are gadget-oriented (smart watches, wristbands, etc.), these partnerships will more than likely follow suit to what Google and Levis have developed, and make a shift towards developing more electronic wearables in the form of smart clothing.
Filed Under: M2M (machine to machine)