Fash­ion Tech: on The cuT­Ting edge

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Brunch - - INDULGE -

FASH­ION AND tech­nol­ogy. Frankly, when­ever some­one men­tions them to­gether, I try and sup­press a deep de­sire to laugh. Not be­cause it doesn’t make sense (it ac­tu­ally does and the smart cloth­ing busi­ness is pre­dicted to get big­ger than the wear­ables busi­ness in the fu­ture) but be­cause there is such a dis­con­nect be­tween th­ese two in­dus­tries.

Till now most of Fash­ion Tech has been typ­i­cal of how two in­dus­tries that should be sleep­ing to­gether haven’t even had their first date. Typ­i­cal ex­am­ples of what is deemed as Fash­ion Tech are dresses that light up with hun­dreds of LEDs, a haute cou­ture fash­ion gar­ment that changes colour when you en­ter a party sup­pos­edly in sync with your mood, pieces of jew­ellery that are blue­tooth-en­abled, ac­ces­sories that have all kinds of lights in them and can pul­sate to our heart­beat or mu­sic and about a dozen other such niche and, frankly, ab­so­lutely ridicu­lous creations. Think about it – would you re­ally want to walk into a party with your dress emit­ting 1000 watts of light or a pair of pants that turned a bright red when you saw a very at­trac­tive per­son, or a ring that seems to have lost its

Smart cloth­ing is the next big busi­ness idea that will see in­no­va­tions in the field of fash­ion

you still ig­nore them, they’ll send out a mes­sage to char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tions to come and pick them up so that some­one more ap­pre­cia­tive and de­serv­ing gets to wear them. It’s ac­tu­ally a very smart solution to one of the big­gest prob­lems that ev­ery one faces. Com­ing soon to a cup­board near you!

THE SMART SHIRT

The term ‘smart’ has be­come al­most as abused as the let­ter ‘i’. Com­pa­nies use them ev­ery­where and that has led to a plethora of smart prod­ucts that do some very fool­ish things. There are smart forks, smart cups, smart cuff-links and even smart bath­rooms (don’t ask)! But just adding a sen­sor or a chip to some­thing doesn’t re­ally make it smart. It needs to ac­tu­ally be sim­ple to use and must do some­thing use­ful in our daily life. Ar­row’s ‘Smart shirt’ claims to be the first global smart shirt and it was in­vented right here in In­dia. A sim­ple Near Field Com­mu­ni­ca­tion (NFC) chip is em­bed­ded in the cuff and it’s wa­ter-proof (thus wash­able), heat­proof (thus iron-able) and needs no bat­tery power (thus no wires or charg­ers). You can add func­tions to your cuff whereby tap­ping it with a phone trans­fers your busi­ness card, launches an app, puts your phone on DND or even starts a playlist. Com­ing up are pay­ments, iden­tity recog­ni­tion and even us­ing it as your air­line ticket. Sam­sung al­ready has a ‘Smart Suit’ and a Bri­tish Com­pany has a work blouse that works sim­i­larly.

SMART CLOTH­ING

The big­gest busi­ness in Fash­ion Tech will come from the Smart Cloth­ing busi­ness. Fab­rics that have smart tech built in. Fab­rics that clean them­selves, re­pair a tear on their own, change prop­er­ties to be cool in sum­mer and warm in win­ter or elim­i­nate the need for a de­odor­ant by be­ing smell-proof (yes, deo com­pa­nies need to start sweat­ing).

On the other hand, com­pa­nies such as Lumo Run (smart run­ning shorts that can mon­i­tor speed, ca­dence, ground con­tact time, pelvic ro­ta­tion and stride length), Hex­oskin Smart (to mon­i­tor heart rate, breath­ing and move­ment), OMsig­nal Bra (it records dis­tance ran, breath­ing rate and even tells you when you’ve re­cov­ered enough to go back for a run), Athos (it has mi­cro-EMG sen­sors that de­tect which of your muscles are ac­tu­ally work­ing), are of­fer­ing op­tions that have every­thing em­bed­ded within the gar­ment.

That’s the fu­ture and you’ll see new in­no­va­tions com­ing at you at a fu­ri­ous pace. Not ev­ery one of them is go­ing to be jaw-drop­ping. For in­stance, a Euro­pean com­pany has a smart un­der­wear in the works. Not sure why I would need a chip in that area and what I would be tap­ping there!

NOW YOU SEE THE LIGHT! Dresses that light up with hun­dreds of LEDs are not ex­am­ples of Fash­ion Tech

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