The evo­lu­tion to wear­ing smart clothes

The Borneo Post - Good English - - News -

IT’S amaz­ing why so many of us are so fo­cused on smart watches and bands.

But if we want wear­ables to be­come truly wear­able, com­pa­nies need to start look­ing at the clothes we wear ev­ery day of our lives. And if we want those wear­ables to be truly use­ful, we need to think be­yond step count­ing and cre­ate tech that gives ac­tion­able sug­ges­tions to im­prove our well-be­ing.

Com­pa­nies like Sam­sung, Google, OMSig­nal, Hexo Skin, and Un­der Ar­mour have be­gun think­ing about ways to make the clothes on your back as smart as the phone in your pocket. Since most wear­ables are fit­ness-fo­cused, most smart cloth­ing so far has fol­lowed in those foot­steps with in­cred­i­bly ac­cu­rate fit­ness met­rics and de­tailed anal­y­sis of work­outs. Thank­fully, many com­pa­nies are be­gin­ning to think be­yond gym rats, and the smart clothes they are work­ing on may be the fu­ture of wear­able tech.

Smart clothes are wear­ables for ev­ery­one. Slip­ping on a smart t-shirt or hook­ing on a smart bra in the morn­ing doesn’t re­quire any ex­tra ef­fort. You don’t have to change your be­hav­iour to suit the tech.

The main prob­lem with cur­rent fit­ness bands and smart­watches is that they’re so con­spic­u­ous. Imag­ine if your coat, pants, socks, or shoes just did all this for you. You wouldn’t have to work out to take ad­van­tage of the ben­e­fits of wear­able tech. Since you wear cloth­ing all the time, mak­ing the fab­ric that cov­ers your body smarter would make it eas­ier than ever to keep tabs on your over­all well­ness with­out forc­ing you to go to the gym, or wear any­thing that you wouldn’t nor­mally wear.

Wear­able tech is at its best when it isn’t ob­vi­ous. That’s why smart jew­ellery that’s not overly fu­tur­is­tic, gaudy, or bulky — and smart­watches that look like ac­tual watches — have such in­cred­i­bly strong ap­peal to your av­er­age per­son.

Smart clothes are even more nor­mal look­ing, and they’re much more eas­ily cus­tomis­able than other wear­ables. Af­ter you’ve got the sen­sors down, you can eas­ily in­cor­po­rate them into any type of cloth­ing with­out a hitch. It doesn’t take much ef­fort to cre­ate 20 dif­fer­ent choices of colours for a smart shirt, but man­u­fac­tur­ing more than one fin­ish for a smart­watch is a huge op­er­a­tion. Al­ready, smart clothes are avail­able in more styles, colours, and va­ri­eties than other wear­ables.

Just look at OMSig­nal’s many fun smart sports bra pat­terns and colour cnoices or Sam­sung’s re­cent wear­able pro­to­types, which in­clude a belt that lets you know when you’re pack­ing on the pounds, a very stylish busi­ness suit with NFC but­tons hid­den in the cuffs, a golf shirt that tracks swings, and smart work­out clothes. All of these de­vices are bril­liant wear­ables, not be­cause they share the same tech as your av­er­age fit­ness tracker, but be­cause they don’t look like tech.

It’s a dream shared by many, in­clud­ing the founder of Google Pro­ject Jacquard, Ivan Poupyrev. Dur­ing Google I/O 2015, Poupyrev showed off a new way to weave touch pan­els to into con­ven­tional fab­rics, us­ing old-fash­ioned tex­tile man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses. Google’s yarn has a con­duc­tive metal core that’s mixed with con­ven­tional fi­bres and can be dyed any colour. Google is work­ing with Levi’s and other com­pa­nies to make its dream of high­tech cloth­ing come true us­ing tra­di­tional tech­niques.

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