wearables
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“Misfit, known for its fitness and sleep tracking gadgets, is partnering up with crystal giant Swarovski for two new wearable products and nine sparkling accessories (three bracelets, three wristbands and three pendants, available in black, white and grey).”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily - Swarovski x Misfit Shine
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“Vivoactive […] is Garmin’s answer to the Apple Watch, the Fitbit Surge and all the rest of the smartwatches.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily - Garmin Vivoactive Smartwatch
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“Despite the discontinuation of FuelBand, a new patent from Nike provides clue into their role in the future of sportswear.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily

Wearables Christmas

Image source: www.telegraph.co.uk

There’s been a lot of hype around wearables in the lead-up to Christmas, with many proclaiming a festive boom for smart watches and fitness trackers to round off 2014. But with the big day just gone, how many wearable technology devices topped consumers’ lists? And what’s the next step, after the inevitable boom of the Christmas rush gives way to a quieter January?

The contenders for the Christmas crown included Samsung’s Galaxy Gear and Gear Fit, Android Wear, Fitbit’s Charge and Jawbone Up 24; on the smartwatch side, the Moto 360 and (originally crowdfunded) Pebble are leading the charge. Wearable tech-heads will have to wait a little longer for Microsoft’s Band and Apple Watch, of course. The fitness oriented products on the market propose to track fitness and health data for the wearer, as well as make sense of that data. This core feature to wearables – the other is hands-free communication – is what attracted a 182% year-on-year increase for wearables sales at Christmas. Or at least, that’s what Samsung’s research teams projected for the season in October. Other projections included those published by Juniper Research earlier this year: their report predicted that the worldwide wearable tech industry would increase from 27 million device shipments in 2014, to a whopping 116 million in 2017.

Whilst the retail numbers aren’t in to show whether wearables have really fared as well as predicted over their first commercial Christmas, there are a few clues as to whether wearable tech enthusiasm has truly hit the mainstream. Although there’s clearly been a massive increase in awareness about wearables, that doesn’t mean they have necessarily made their way to Santa’s list – in fact, Ipsos Mori and its Tech Tracker find that only 1% of adults claim to own or use a Smartwatch in the UK, and that half of those people who are aware of models such as the Pebble simply don’t see a need for such a device.

There are a few factors going into 2015 that will make mainstream wearables a more realistic prospect. New platforms for developers to create apps that enable end-users to reap the rewards of wearables will emerge, making their assimilation into daily personal or working life all the more likely. Moreover, fitness and health trackers need to work harder to influence users’ behaviour if they’re really going to have an impact on health and fitness – a call that the industry is sure to answer now that uptake of early devices are so promising. Perhaps most influential will be the release of the Apple Watch (slated for “early 2015”, still) – after all, Apple do have a canny knack for being the first to bring a technology to market and simultaneously totally convincing everyone that it is a necessity. Besides, with fitness trackers currently making headway as the market leader, maybe January won’t be so quiet after all… New Year’s Resolution to exercise more, anyone?

Reported by Claire Healy

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Purple Locket
Image source: artefactgroup.com

Much like the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it trends of the fashion and beauty worlds, technology comes and goes: from the iPod classic to the kitchen radio, technological obsolescence is a fast fact of our daily existence. In light of this constantly shifting tech scene, can there ever be such a thing as a digital heirloom? Certain proponents of wearable technology would respond with a confident yes.

Indeed, a growing number of start-ups believe that the future of ‘wearables’ should start with traditional design, with ‘smart’ functionality remaining secondary. In a scene that has seen the most noise around the Apple Watch, Sony has responded with an E-Ink watch that uses customisable electronic paper. The creators of Nike Fuelband, meanwhile, are working on old-fashioned wristwatches under their Minus-8 line.

But it’s not just watch designers that are turning to tradition in a bid to commercialize the marriage between technology and fashion. The wedding ring – that most traditional, and priceless, of accessories – is in prime position for a digital makeover. Royal College of Art graduate Alice Wang has designed a wedding ring that replaces the traditional diamond with a digital display: showing a digital countdown of the number of days the couple agree to be married for – needless to say, “forever” doesn’t apply.

Perhaps a more appealing prospect is a conceptual smart locket from design studio Artefact Group. Their smart locker presents a 21st-century update of traditional heirloom jewellery, as it wirelessly interacts with the wearer’s social networks to digitally display photographs of friends and family. The design team behind the Purple Locket is currently exploring options for bringing the design to the commercial market, but it remains a concept for the time being.

Reported by Claire Healy

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“More than half of business and technology decision-makers in various industries, including retail, say implementing a strategy for wearable mobile technology will be a priority in 2015, according to a Forrester Research Inc. survey published in the new report ‘Five Urgent Truths About The Future Of Wearables That Every Leader Should Know.'”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily - Wearables
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“It’s not difficult to imagine the wearables category, as a whole, potentially falling into the trap of “over-featurization” when they really should be limited by design.”

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abacus-watch
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“Misfit Wearables, maker of the jewelry-like Shine activity tracker and the less-costly Flash tracker, has raised $40 million in funding from Chinese smartphone company Xiaomi and other investors, as it ramps up product development.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily - Misfit Wearables

Guest Post by Stylus Fashion

Decoded Fashion - Weekly stories

Could fashion brands learn from the Makers movement and its open-source approach to design? Becky Stern, directory of NYC-based wearable electronics firm Adafruit, thinks so. “Makers share their experiments, their methods of building and their successes and failures,” says Stern of this brand of DIY crafters who incorporate tech into objects in unexpected ways and reveal the results online and at Maker Faires around the globe.

By pooling information, fashion companies “could start making their own tech in-house instead of partnering with a big firm or established brand,” Stern adds, retaining control and cutting R&D costs.

As the director of wearable electronics at Adafruit, a New York-based hardware manufacturer and online learning hub, she has been combining textiles with electronics for the past decade. But though Stern is a designer, her passion lies in education, with her online guides, YouTube talk show and weekly projects aiming to teach all, regardless of age or technical ability, how to create their own wearable technologies.

Microcontrollers, Arduino boards and conductive threads are her tools of choice. A footstep is enough to trigger a rainbow of colours along the edges of the Firewalker LED sneakers, the effect created by weight on the pressure-sensitive Velostat sensors in each shoe’s heel. In the same spirit the VU Meter Baseball Cap features a NeoPixel strip of LEDs that flash according to sound volume. Whilst, a mike fixed to the side of the hat registers the noise levels, communicating them to a FLORA microcontroller that adjusts the light’s speed.

Both projects require the ability to solder metal parts and write code. However, with the rise of washable connectors and longer-lasting batteries, Stern anticipates a day soon when tech will be routinely incorporated into everyday wear. “I think we’ll see modules that snap in and out of garments to control embedded LEDs and fabric sensors,” she says. “For example, take a look at CuteCircuit‘s Twirkle Shirt,” a motion-activated T-shirt. “It features a ‘brain’ that can be removed prior to washing and then replaced afterwards.” Further developments in harvesting power from body movements, a still-emerging science, could also boost the use of electronics in clothing.

Aside from demystifying technology, these experiments demonstrate numerous opportunities for womenswear brands. On a simple level they offer new visual embellishments that could easily be added to clothing and footwear. On a larger scale, though, these projects hint at new levels of clothing customisation and interactivity. Most of Stern’s – and other Makers’ – projects run off Arduino, an open-source hardware platform that supports various types of sensors, including those for sound, pressure, light and temperature. Include them in a garment or accessory, and it could change colour from day to night, when music is played, or when the temperature soars or plunges.

The possibilities of wearables and interactive fashion are great, and brands thinking of designing their own hardware should not go it alone- the key to success is collaboration.

Reported by Julie Taraska, Senior Editor of Wearables & Interactive at Stylus Fashion

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“Second time lucky, perhaps? Kairos, the South Korean startup that promised an amazing Swiss hybrid smartwatch but has not yet delivered, is now back with a new model that’s very different.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily - Kairos
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