Wearables continue to progress for use in our personal lives, business, medicine, and more. As these products become more imbedded in our lives, engineers and designers are going to have to work in even closer collaboration to bring people products that are not just functional, but beautiful as well.
Smart clothing that senses body temperature and tracks other stats is breaking onto the wearables scene. Take Lechal, for instance. Utilizing basic foot movements or voice commands, the wearer can track the surface around them with Bluetooth wired haptic feedback signals that send information to one’s phone. (Not to mention that the company uses part of its proceeds to subsidize a pair of Lechal shoes for someone who is visually-challenged.)
In May, Silicon Valley held its first ever fashion week. Hosted by Betabrand, which crowdfunds its clothing designs, and poking a little fun at the fashion industry, Silicon Valley Fashion Week? turned out everything from stain-resistant, odor free clothing to safety vests for bikers. On top of that, some interesting companies were showcased, including Electroloom, which allows items developed with basic CAD software to be 3D “sewn” into your individualized creation, and Sensoree, showing items like its Ger Mood Sweater, which interprets and shows changes in your emotions and excitement levels on an illuminated collar.
And the area of fabrics is continuing to grow. With “wrinkle free” fabrics on the clothing market for years already, smart fabric development has recently boomed. A great example is Ministry of Supply. Without any electronic parts in its end products, they’re upping the menswear game by utilizing thermal imaging, pressure mapping, and strain analysis in its fabric development to create clothing for “a life spent in motion” (check out their technology page here).
Phone and Trackers
Take items like Intel’s MICA (My Intelligent Communication Accessory) and the Bellabeat Leaf. MICA, designed by Opening Ceremony and adorned with snakeskin, gold, pearls, and more, takes the functionality of wearables and the appearance of fashion to the next level. Unfortunately, this device got resounding reviews of fashion trumping usability. A more subtle piece, the Leaf has multiple wearer options as a necklace, bracelet, or brooch, and tracks health by monitoring breathing, fitness, sleep, and more.
Both pieces show how wearables are making a transition from skeuomorphism to flat design. While skeuomorphism isn’t going the way of the dinosaurs just yet and probably won’t for some time (see some of the neat watch face mimicry available for the Apple Watch as a recent example), flat design is really beginning to blossom.
As such items become more and more part of our daily lives and require less and less lifestyle adjustment to adapt, potential for design and artistic functionality knows no bounds. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see how wearables continue to develop and be refined for usability and inclusion in the daily aspects of our lives.
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