An Incredibly Fashion-Forward Opportunity for Developers
By Ed Schmit, Executive Director AT&T Developer Program
It’s the time of year, when we start to see all the new Spring 2015 trends at fashion weeks around the world. If recent shows are any indication, there should be some interesting technology hitting the catwalk. Earlier this year, during London’s Fashion Week in February, Nokia teamed up with designer Fyodor Golan to create a skirt featuring the Nokia Lumia 1520 smartphone. It wasn’t just one phone; the skirt consisted of 35 handsets. The displays changed colors as the skirt moved, making it a truly interactive design. At Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York, that took place in early September, Elie Tahari revealed an iPhone gown. It was essentially a black, mesh material covered with 50 iPhones that were set to capture live streaming video of the event. It will be interesting to see how wearable tech is revealed this week during the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week events happening in Istanbul and Tokyo and at Los Angeles Fashion Week.
What better time than Fashion Week to explore the opportunity available for developers and designers to start working together to make some truly unique products? We are beginning to see more wearable tech and some of it is quite “wearable” now that designers are getting involved. Consider Ringly’s stylish, high-tech 18-karat matte gold rings with semi-precious stones. These are more than fashion jewelry pieces. The ring actually syncs with your smartphone and when important texts, calls, messages, and such arrive, the ring vibrates. At New York Fashion Week in September, Rebecca Minkoff unveiled a line of bracelets that do double duty as a phone charger. When it comes to accessories we’re seeing a lot of movement. Just look at all the recent announcements around smartwatches, virtual glasses, and fitness bands.
It’s not just accessories, we’re starting to see clothes that integrate real tech. The company known for its use of the Polo logo in its designs, introduced the Polo Tech shirt at the US Open. Basically, it’s a shirt that measures breathing, heart rate and other biometric data. You can see the results on an accompanying mobile app. The shirt will be available for consumers in Spring/Summer 2015. Then there’s the Selfie Hat, a sparkling bright pink hat with an Acer Iconia A1-840 hanging off its side, which made quite a splash at the London Fashion Week in September. Really, this was designed more of a statement piece than wearable tech. The point is fashion and technology have been flirting for a while and now there’s enough interest and activity from both sides that it’s time for the two to dance.
Wireless Sensors Elevate Wearable Tech
We really are only at the tip of the iceberg when you think of fashion and technology. From some of the examples listed above, it’s clear that designers are using tech that’s mainstream to create wearable products. The exciting opportunity for the wearable segment lies in working with sensors. This is where designers and developers can come together to create wearable tech that customers want.
Sensors are becoming smaller, more functional, and cheaper, so they can be embedded in everything from clothing to accessories. For example, imagine incorporating wireless sensors into kids clothes. Parents could easily monitor their kids’ vitals (pulse and temperature) and overall safety (how active) based on the clothes they wear. We’ve only seen a small way that fitness can be monitored through wearables. Wireless sensors can take tracking to the next level when sewn into athletic gear. For example, they could collect data such as blood pressure, ECG, blood oxygen levels, and even lung functions. To get an idea of some of the innovative things being developed using wireless sensors check out Indiegogo and Kickstarter. As the sensors become more advanced, they can even be used to monitor brain activity and deliver valuable data like alerting a person when they’re about to fall asleep while driving. These types of sensors could be incorporated into hats or glasses.
There is disruption happening in the fashion world. Designers are embracing the tech, but they need direction. Developers working on wearable products need to understand which fashion trends will be successful. Now is the time that these two extremely creative groups of people should meet and work together to create something that customers are seeking. For developers, teaming up with designers and UX specialists is a huge source of differentiation. But how do the two meet? There are Meetups and local industry events that happen for fashion just as there are for developers. Designers should check out tech events, while developers should attend fashion Meetups. There are more and more Women in Tech focused hackathons occurring and that’s a great place for designers to meet developers and come together to create something that’s fashionable and useful. The opportunity is there, now it’s time to sieze it.