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09-01-2014
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Fashion and Technology: Wearables
Behind Intel's New Fashion Collaborations

BY VIKRAM ALEXEI KANSARA WEDNESDAY, 8 JANUARY, 2014

L: Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, co-founders of Opening Ceremony; R: Brian Krzanich, chief executive of Intel | Source: Courtesy LAS VEGAS, United States — Wearables, wearables, wearables. This emerging category of personal accessories with embedded sensors, displays and other digital technology (such as Nike’s FuelBand, Google’s Internet-connected eyewear and Apple’s rumoured iWatch) was the most talked-about topic this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the world’s biggest technology and gadgets gathering. And the fashion community, which has been noticeably absent from the wearables revolution, seemed to finally take notice when Brian Krzanich, chief executive of Intel, the world’s largest chip maker, announced that the company was set to kick off a series of collaborations, focused on wearable tech, with fashion industry leaders Opening Ceremony, Barneys New York and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).
The fashion collaborations will result in the development of a “smart bracelet” designed by Opening Ceremony, powered by Intel technology and sold exclusively, this autumn, at influential retailer Barneys New York. The product will be based upon existing Intel prototypes, but the final feature set, aesthetic characteristics and price point of the device have yet to be determined.
Intel and the Council of Fashion Designers of America have also joined forces to facilitate much needed interaction between technologists and fashion designers with the broad aim of fostering innovation in wearable devices.
“Our shared vision is to accelerate wearable technology innovation and create products that both enhance people’s lives and are desirable to wear,” said Ayse Ildeniz, vice president of business development and strategy at Intel’s New Devices Group, in a statement.
Intel declined to disclose how much it was investing in these collaborations, though Krzanich said the company would fund a competition that will offer wearable technology developers $1.3 million in prizes. (Intel, which dominated the market for the microchips that power PCs but was slow to adapt to the rise of post-PC devices like smartphones and tablets, has a vital strategic interest in wearables and other next-generation devices which it hopes will make use of its new ultra-small, low-power chips).
According to Credit Suisse, the market for wearables, currently concentrated in health and fitness and estimated to be worth between $3 billion and $5 billion, is set to explode, reaching $30 billion to $50 billion over the next three to five years, as chips, sensors and battery life improve and an ecosystem of entrepreneurs start to build thousands of apps and services on top of wearable devices, just as they have done for smartphones. The financial services company has gone so far as to call wearable technology “a mega trend” that has hit “at an inflection point in market adoption” and will have “a significant and pervasive impact on the economy.”
But, thus far, several much-hyped wearables (notably, Samsung’s $300 Galaxy Gear smartwatch) have failed to resonate with large numbers of users, not least because the devices lack the design sensibility and symbolic meaning of traditional fashion accessories, say industry observers. Indeed, much like fashion items, consumer adoption of wearable technology will depend on the stylistic merits of these devices — and their ability to communicate identity — as much as their functional value.
There are exceptions (like the Jawbone headset and Up fitness bands, designed by Yves Béhar) but for the most part, unlike traditional accessories makers, which have a deep understanding of how to create covetable items that carry and convey stylistic and social value, “fashion isn’t something that technology companies really understand,” said Danny Cristofano, a brand manager at Intel. “We’re focused on building an ecosystem of partners.”
“As Humberto [Leon] and I have seen the emergence of wearable technology, we’ve always said, ‘Someone needs to create something that’s a beautiful object that you would want to wear, regardless of its functional features,’” said Carol Lim, co-founder of Opening Ceremony.
“There are some interesting products out there, but [from a design perspective] it’s been a void. Until now, technology companies have tried to own the entire development process, but to push things forward, a marriage between a tech company and a design house makes a lot of sense. We want to create something that people covet. At the end of the day, all the tech features in the world won’t sell if the product is not something consumers want to wear,” she added. “We want to create something that can really stand alone on a design level.”
“One of the greatest opportunities for wearable technology as a concept to be successful is fairly simple: to design a beautiful accessory that our customers would desire,” said Daniella Vitale, chief operating officer of Barneys New York.
“[The Barneys customer] wants something that seamlessly works into their lifestyle and wardrobe. They might wear it layered with various other bracelets or just solo on their wrist. Either way, they are looking for a fashion accessory which delivers the technology,” added Tomoko Ogura, the retailer’s senior fashion director.
But fashion appeal alone may not be enough to convince large numbers of consumers to wear technology on their bodies. “The key for wearables is to offer something that people find valuable and useful. There is probably a limit to how many people want to track their physical activity and fitness level, which is why the challenge will be to figure out what else might appeal to a broad audience,” said Peter Rojas, vice president of strategy at AOL Brand Group and the co-creator of leading design, tech and gadget sites Gizmodo, Engadget and Gdgt. “That might be notifications on your wrist, but it will probably be more in the area of personalised and contextual information (like Google Now) that goes beyond just alerts and actually tries to anticipate what you need and when you might need it.”
Whether Opening Ceremony’s “smart bracelet” will embrace the right blend of functionality, fashion aesthetics and market positioning to resonate with consumers when it debuts at Barneys this autumn remains to be seen. But for the worlds of both fashion and tech, whose futures are set to become increasingly intertwined as wearables take off, Intel’s new fashion collaborations represent a step in the right direction.


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10-01-2014
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NY Times article about wearables...

Tech Attire, More Beta Than Chic

By BRIAN X. CHENJAN. 8, 2014


Launch media viewer

Pebble smartwatches, made now with stainless steel. Watch makers like Pebble and Samsung have chosen to use the sharper LCD display, which shortens battery life significantly.

LAS VEGAS — The next computer consumers buy will fit on a wrist or sit atop a nose. At least that is what many tech companies are hoping.
At the International CES here this week, more than a dozen tech companies showcased Internet-connected watches and glasses capable of running software apps.
These companies are following the footsteps of Google, which introduced Glass, its connected monocle, in 2012, and Samsung Electronics, which released a smartwatch last year.
But even though more companies are offering wearable devices, it is far from certain that people will buy and wear the products in great numbers anytime soon. Both smartwatches and connected glasses must overcome several hurdles, analysts say, before mainstream consumers welcome them into their everyday lives.
For one, most smartwatches and glasses look far less fashionable than the accessories they mimic. For another, they often have mediocre battery life, making them unsuitable for wearing all day. And in general, they can be costly, running into hundreds of dollars, even though their features are often limited or still a little buggy.
Play Video

Video|0:45


Wrist Revolution

The Times’s Nick Bilton takes a look at smartwatches at the International CES in Las Vegas.
Those issues have not stopped tech companies from seeing great potential and pouring resources into the new devices. Big brands like Epson, the company known for its printers and video projectors, and Qualcomm, the chip maker, showed off wearable devices this week, as did a crop of smaller brands.
“We’re still in the experimental stages of the wearable market,” said Henry Samueli, chief technical officer of Broadcom, which makes wireless chips for mobile devices. “But at some point one of them will stick and consumers are going to love them, and everyone else is going to copy it.”
It is clear why companies are eager to get a head start on the wearables market. Now that smartphones and tablets are commonplace, and both those markets are dominated by Apple and Samsung Electronics, tech companies are looking for somewhere new to gain a foothold.
And then there is the elephant in the room: Apple is widely expected to move into wearables. The company has been busy working on a connected wristwatch that it hopes to introduce in the near future, according to people briefed on the project.
Launch media viewer

The Epson Moverio BT-200 glasses and its hand-held controller. The wearables category is expected to be highly lucrative. Gartner, the research firm, estimates wearable computers, including shoes, tattoos and accessories, will be a $10 billion market by 2016. The research company says that much of the revenue will come from accessories with health applications, like devices that count your steps or do things like automatically deliver insulin for diabetics.
Epson’s new connected wristband, for example, has a sensor that measures heart rate by using light to measure red blood cell count in the wrist. The device, Pulsense, also has motion sensors that track the number of footsteps a person takes.
The Pulsense costs $200 for the version with a watch face and looks utilitarian compared with many traditional wristwatches sold at the same price. But Anna Jen, director for new ventures for Epson, said the device was aimed at people interested in tracking health closely.
“Sometimes when I look at the numbers and I realize I’m a little bit stressed, I’ll take a few minutes to breathe, walk around and get a drink of water,” she said. “That’s really what our Pulsense products are designed to do.”
Launch media viewer

Epson’s Pulsense, a watch that monitors your heart rate and counts the steps you take. Epson also introduced a smart glasses device, Moverio BT-200, which creates miniature projections to display semitransparent digital images in front of the user’s eyes. Epson says the $700 glasses can be used by consumers to play virtual reality games, but also could be used by workers like mechanics, who could look at an engine through the glasses and see a chart on how to repair the engine.
But the glasses, which are chunky and have a cord running out of them, are not likely to be on a fashion runway anytime soon.

J. P. Gownder, a technology analyst for Forrester Research, said that was a common problem with wearables so far. “Traditional tech companies don’t do well with fashion,” he said. Companies will have to move outside their comfort zone and seek advice from high-end fashion makers instead of just industrial designers, he said.
Pebble, a smartwatch maker, made a step in that direction this week, when it introduced a version of its watch made with stainless steel. It costs $250, or $100 more than the first Pebble, which was made of plastic.

Other trade-offs are also easily apparent with most wearable devices, particularly when it comes to battery power and screens. Some smartwatch makers have chosen to stick with an LCD display to show videos and sharper graphics, sacrificing battery power as a result. For example, Samsung’s $300 Galaxy Gear smartwatch received poor reviews from critics partly because its battery lasted from six to 12 hours.
The Pebble watch’s battery life is long — about a week — but that is because the Pebble uses a monochrome display that limits the sort of images that can be shown. Qualcomm’s smartwatch, the Toq, is similarly limited by its low-powered display.
Mr. Samueli of Broadcom said that wearable device makers would probably have to agree on a smarter, uniform solution for charging the battery, like wireless charging stations that can power a device without its being plugged in. “You’re not going to plug in 10 different gadgets to charge overnight,” he said.
Some of the strides in power and wearable computing technology are coming straight from chip makers.
Intel this week announced a low-power microcomputer called the Intel Edison, which has been squeezed into a tiny form as small as a memory card and includes built-in wireless connectivity. Broadcom has introduced a package that includes the parts and software needed to add a wireless connection to everyday objects, like shoes and clothing.
Only a few makers of wearable computers will cross the finish line, said Mr. Gownder of Forrester. But he said that he had no doubt that wearable computers would become a mainstream product, as the smartphone is today.
“There is definitely a hype bubble — admittedly — but there was a hype bubble around the Internet in 1999 as well,” he said. “We’re in that same stage with wearables, and at the same time they are going to be very real.”

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10-01-2014
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Well, one thing about tech clothing that fashion companies will like is the built-in obsolescence. You'll need to keep replacing that bracelet to get the new features, better battery life, or just because the damn thing keeps crashing.

I looked into the Fuel band because I actually would like to be able to do things like keep track of how far I walk, how many calories I burn, etc., but I was very disappointed at the actual capabilities and compatibility of the devices.

A good mapping/directional tool would be welcome as well, but given that I find Google Maps (Android version) has become buggier, clumsier and less reliable than it was a couple of years ago, I'm not holding my breath.

I feel that tech companies have become blind to their own faults and limitations and too impressed with their own potential. Arrogant and not nearly as capable as they think they are. And their wholesale attempts to use any and all personal information for marketing are not endearing them to me, either.

These "fashion devices" will no doubt become more popular, but are still mostly for the nerd set IMO. They have a long way to go to look as good as clothing, and a long way to go to work well as tools. They are mostly toys right now.

I'm still waiting for the clothing that plays videos! Weren't we promised this a few years ago? Being able to show your favorite music videos on your chest or back?

Interesting articles, softgrey, thanks for posting them!

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17-02-2014
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yah- i remember that shirt that would play videos...
and light and heat sensitive fabrics...
which are getting a revival at the moment because i think that they have been recently improved and adopted by designers who know how to do something cool with them besides just make a t-shirt...

the smart bracelet interests me...
the wrist is the only area where i can imagine a wearable device...
i'm not that curious about what it will look like...
what i wonder more than anything is what it will do...

i'd love if it could be a communicator and a camera...
that would be great for nights out when you don't want to carry around your big phone or for places you might lose it, like a rock concert...
even at the opera- you carry a small evening bag...

i'd love to have one that could go from day to evening...

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01-03-2014
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I knew and saw it available for public a fabric that had antibiotics properties. You put it on and it had the same hability as say, a pill for headaches.

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17-04-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petit Lucille View Post
I knew and saw it available for public a fabric that had antibiotics properties. You put it on and it had the same hability as say, a pill for headaches.
Well thats definitely something that would come in handy for chronic disseases since pills are really bad for your stomach health

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25-04-2014
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Or it could prevent your body to get used to it and lose the medical effect.

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25-04-2014
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I can't wait for the day when we can access our laptops just by clicking our earrings, just like this girl. It's showtime, Synergy!


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02-05-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petit Lucille View Post
Or it could prevent your body to get used to it and lose the medical effect.
Its not our bodies getting used to antibiotics,its bacteria. I doubt a wearable gadget could sort that out.

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