Smart wristband and watches are dominating the wearable technology industry, with 70 million units expected to be sold worldwide in 2016. Though impressive figures, there is another technology within this sector that could soon storm past them. Smart clothing.
Also known as e-textiles, smart clothing refers to clothing that has technology embedded into its fabric. As opposed to other wearables that act as extra accessories to an outfit, smart clothes are an essential part of an outfit, like a top or pair of shoes. Smart clothes are for everyone, meaning an almost infinite customer base for companies to target.
So let’s take a look at some inventive examples of how this technology is being used and embedded into our everyday clothing.
Although fitness bands have boomed in the past year, its location on the wrist can cause unreliable activity tracking and there are many useful metrics it cannot gain. This is where smart underwear is different.
Take the OMsignal smart bra for example, pictured above. Placing flexible sensors in the bra that are close to your skin, gym-goers can accurately track muscle tension, heart rate changes and even when your body has recovered enough to train again. However, the future of smart underwear goes beyond workout analysis. Developers are now looking towards tracking the wearer’s general wellbeing so you can predict health problems before they happen.
And smart underwear isn’t only for adults. In Japan, smart nappies are being developed with waterproof sensors that can detect changes in wetness, temperature and pressure. This information is then sent to a mobile device to let the parent know that their baby’s nappy needs changing.
How great would it be if you didn’t have to worry that your phone would run out of battery whilst you are out? With smart jeans, this can be a reality. Joe’s Jeans has created denim jeans that can charge your phone in its pocket, as seen in the image above.
The #Hello jean conceals a small battery pack that connects to your phone via a USB hidden along the seams of the jean. The battery will charge an iPhone 5 and 5s from 0 to 85%, and an iPhone 6 from 0 to 70% - bad luck if you have an Android!
Google has teamed up with Levi to create a jacket that can control your mobile devices with the swipe of a finger. Using Google’s Jacquard technology, the jackets sleeves are made up of touch-sensitive panels which when pressed or swiped like on a smartphone, send a signal to your mobile device.
This technology lets the wearer change their music, answer calls and access navigation information, as well as much more. And all this is performed with a simple hand gesture that can be customised by the user via an app to suit their preferences.
Digitsole has created a smart shoe that can track the wearer’s footsteps, change temperature to warm or cool feet, and even tighten its laces – all via a smartphone or smartwatch. To be released in autumn of this year, the shoes shown below are reported to cost £307 and will contain a battery than can last for several days with a wireless charger.
The image above shoes ShiftWear’s personalised smart trainers that can be customised with any image of the wearer’s choice. The image can be static or moving, as well as animations or photographs taken by the wearer – easily uploaded via a mobile app.
Worried you are putting on weight? The WELT may be just the answer. Short for ‘wellness belt’ and featured in the video above, Samsung have created a belt that tracks your waistline, identifying if it expands or decreases in real-time so you know if you are over or under eating. It also tracks your step count, sending all this information to a connected smartphone. However, it still looks like a regular fashion belt that is part of your everyday wardrobe.
These above examples only touch upon the potential applications of smart clothing. Though many are still in development, as soon as consumer awareness of this wearable tech takes off, it is sure to become an integral market within the fashion industry, leaving smart watches and wristbands in its wake. Watch this space.
To find out more about the tech and digital worlds, take a look at our Resources section below: