The market of wearables is quite heterogeneous in terms of products and creators. On the one hand, there are smart watches and fitness trackers that have become familiar for many of us.
On the other, there are highly creative unique pieces like a dress called “Herself” that purifies air – https://www.designboom.com/design/air-purifying-dress/. Or another dress by a Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde that goes transparent when its wearer is sexually aroused – https://www.studioroosegaarde.net/project/intimacy.
Meanwhile, an artist Kathleen McDermott creates video instructions for Do-It-Yourself wearables, like a petting device, a skirt that reads out twits, a scarf that reacts to an unpleasant smell, to name just a few. Kathleen’s videos are available on her webpage http://kthartic.com/.
Large fashion companies have also been launching wearable project. Levi’s is a pioneer in the field with a jacket Jacquard made in cooperation with Google – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJ-lcdMfziw. This jacket is equipped with a smart sleeve that can synchronize with one’s cellphone through an application. The cost of Jacquard is 350 US dollars and it can stand up to 10 washes.
Recently, Luis Vuitton has introduced two bag models with flexible screens that show videos and photos – https://www.theverge.com/2019/5/13/18617427/louis-vuitton-royole-cruise-2020-canvas-of-the-future-flexible-display-handbag. According to the representatives of Luis Vuitton, these bags are supposed to become an extension of the smartphones, which suggests that there might be more options in store.
Australian branch of the condom brand ”Durex” has released a footage of a couple in a long-distance relationships getting connected through Fundawear – https://www.wearablex.com/pages/fundawear – an underwear capable of wirelessly transmitting a human touch. Developed in a collaboration with an Australian designer, this underwear is equipped with sensors activated through a mobile application. This way, a sensation of a lover’s touch is imitated. Regardless overall interest towards the project, Fundawear has never been launched into the market.
Tommy Hilfiger has introduced Tommy Jeans Xplore line of clothes and accessories that, according to Business Insider – https://www.businessinsider.com/tommy-hilfiger-smart-clothes-rewards-2018-7?r=US&IR=T – is equipped with a chip technology that rewards its owner for wearing this apparel. The technology is activated through a free for download application. Moreover, there is a Pokémon Go style game that can be used for gaining gift cards and concert tickets. However, at the moment there is no Xplore collection available on the official webpage of the fashion house.
There is wearable technology designed specifically for children. Thus, a Finnish brand Reima that specializes in children’s clothes has been producing Reima Go – https://www.reima.com/int/reimago/what-is-reimago. This is a button-shaped device that can be attached to a child’s clothes to track their physical activity (but not GPS coordinates). Physical activity is converted into points that can be used in Reima online game.
Pets are also targeted by wearables’ producers, and there are few fitness- and GPS collars (an overview can be found here http://petnuity.com/pet-wearables/).
Finally, there are states and supra-national organizations that have been supporting projects on developing wearable technology. For example, WEAR Sustain – https://wearsustain.eu/dashboards/home – is a 2 year project funded by the European Commission and run between January 2017 and December 2018. The aim of the project was to bring together artists, designers and engineers to develop best practices for making and enabling sustainable wearable technology in Europe. Overall, there is a huge interest towards wearable technology from large fashion brands, technological giants, smaller companies, individual artists and governments. However, we see limited variety of wearable products on the market, and many initiatives remain on the prototype stage. Are wearables too expensive to make? Aren’t customers ready for such a product? Should wearables be marketed in a different way than conventional clothes? Or should they be sold as a technology? In our research, we are trying to find answers to these questions.