What is wearable tech anyway?
Updated: Sep 16, 2019
Wearable tech is an increasingly valuable commodity, not just in its expansiveness, but also in its utility. Technology in general takes many different paths and approaches, some in the goal of entertaining, some in the goal of problem solving, and some in the goal of optimizing, but all achieved through innovation. This beckons the question: what is the intent of wearable tech, and what problem, if any, is it trying to solve? We intend to cover what our assumptions of wearable tech are, what the value-adds and risks are, and what the future holds for this growing industry.
In order to fully delve into this subject we must first establish a baseline of what wearable tech actually is. To some it may be the addition of gadgets or electronics which provide a function or service. To others it might be an integration of fibers or textiles to enhance performance or reduce production carbon footprints. My interpretation? All of these answers are correct. In my opinion, technology is so abundant, accessible, and vast in its definitions that its integration into the fashion industry as "wearable" is almost inevitable. With the onset of the digital age came the mindset of convenience and accessibility, a mindset that can also be directly integrated to fashion, thus the onset of wearable tech would inevitably lead to the inset of wearable convenience.
In reciting the similarities between fashion and technology there is one thing that is absolutely clear: both industries are subject to the same massive challenge; keeping up with the latest trends. The consumer market for technology is riddled with mass proportions of handhelds, gadgets, tools, toys, medical devices, sanitary products, entertainment media, and not even getting into the non-physical media including software, apps, organizational tools, games, music, movies, etc... But how many devices has the mass populous truly embraced and incorporated into what we call "household" names? One of the major risks for both fashion and technology industries is acceptance.
To truly create a product that's "ground-breaking," both industries need to invest time and money. But the ultimate end goal? Acceptance. The risk with fashion? Something that isn't appealing aesthetically/haptically/aromatically, but that also isn't a carbon-copy of anything else out there. The risk with technology? Something that doesn't function the way it should, or doesn't achieve its goals the way it was intended. Something whose worth is not demonstrated or made clear to the user. Many technologies suffer because they are not easily embraced and don't fall into somewhat the "traditional" zeitgeist of fashion, which ultimately can be linked to both a pitfall of the fashion designers, but also of the technology integrator. The main risk in our opinion for wearable tech is the age-old statement "new and improved." If something is new, how is it an improvement? If something is improved, what makes it new? These are the exact answers wearable tech needs to address in order to thrive.
With all of this in mind there is one thing that is absolutely clear, wearable tech is thriving. The onset of new technology and blending them into the fashion world is an enormous growth market and with technology coming into a space where it can be compact, affordable, and functional. Fashion itself is also thriving in a much different way than before; functional fashion. People want their garments to do more, last longer, and speak louder. Fashion identity is just as accessible
to everyone as technology is and the integration of the two is at its prime, the only question to address is which way does the seller, and which way does the customer want their wearable tech to trend, and do they agree with each other? There are several garments that are being invented on a daily basis that address problems we didn't even know we had.