fashion

Say Goodbye to Ugly, Nerdy WearableTech

To say design is important in wearable technology is an understatement; design is everything in wearable technology.  Why? Because people wear it and what people wear makes a statement about who they are.  This week I caught up with two entrepreneurs making it possible to make that statement with fashionable jewelry.

These gentlemen are leading teams creating fashionable wearable technology with designs that surpass any other fitness trackers on the market.  They are playing with a different set of rules.  Rather than working with materials and designs that easily accommodate technology, they are integrating technology into elegant designs and using materials that are figuratively and literally hard to work with.  Wireless signals cannot pass through precious metals; therefore, jewelry design involves tricks to making products that are beautiful and at the same time the design must allow for signals to be passed to and from a mobile device.

“We’ve been wearing jewelry for 75,000 years,” Gerald Wilmink, founder and CEO of WiseWear said.  What people haven’t been doing for those same years is wearing sensors.  Wearable technology entrepreneurs first attempts have been awkward and obtrusive resulting in gigantic rubber band like contraptions that have attempted to redefine what is acceptable to accessorize with.  The approach, however, is not well received by all consumers.  This is an opportunity for wearable technology to improve not just its capacity but its appeal.  “The next wave is truly integrating the sensors and electronics into everyday wear,” said Wilmink whose WiseWear Socialite collection provides fashionable selections through three different bracelet designs, the Calder, the Duchess and the Kingston.

Once wearable technology is integrated into everyday wear, it also needs to be made available to markets that will consume it.  “Career professionals are not going to buy a fashion accessory at an electronics store,” explained ViaWear Founder and CEO Ben Isaacson.  ViaWear’s Tyia bracelet line includes several different styles, finishes and bands and will be distributed in locations where jewelry is sold.  People who frequent jewelry stores and electronics stores aren’t typically the same demographic.  “The fashion forward demographic is waking up to smart jewelry,” Isaacson explained.

There is a relatively untapped market with needs that can be satisfied through beautiful wearable technology accessories and Isaacson and Wilmink are not alone in creating fashionable wearables for these customers.  Wearable fitness tracker maker Fitbit has partnered with luxury lifestyle brand Tory Burch to create Tory Burch for Fitbit.  When announcing their line of smart watches and bands last fall Apple boldly claimed, “There’s an Apple Watch for everyone.”   Others are also joining the race to make fashionable wearable technology in accessories and clothing.

Why make wearable technology fashionable?  Isaacson explains, “The fashion side is a given.  Nobody wants to wear something ugly anymore.”  To this point Wilmink also agrees, “We make sensors and electronics invisible.  You want the data but you don’t want to look like a nerd.”

FootLogger: Wearable Shoe Insoles That Sync & Charge Wirelessly

Check out my latest #WearableTech piece published on WearableWorldNews by clicking here

 

Audience raises hands indicating wearable ownership/use at #KOTRA2014 Connected Self Panel September 24, 2014 in Santa Clara, CA

Audience raises hands indicating wearable ownership/use at #KOTRA2014 Connected Self Panel September 24, 2014 in Santa Clara, CA

 

WorkTechWork Founder Josh Bradshaw with 3L Labs CEO Jinwook Lee in Santa Clara, CA September 25, 2014

WorkTechWork Founder Josh Bradshaw with 3L Labs CEO Jinwook Lee in Santa Clara, CA September 25, 2014

 

 

Wearables Predictions: Who to Watch for Prediction #10

Skully Helmets captured my attention in January at the VLAB Young Entrepreneurs event.  That night Marcus Weller, Skully Helmet CEO, told an amazing story about his inspiration for the worlds smartest helmet.  Following an accident where he totaled his bike when the car in front of him slammed on its brakes while he was reading a street sign, Weller had a dream where he was reliving the accident.  “But I noticed something very different,” Weller said, “I had GPS navigation kind of floating in front of me like a hologram and I watched as the car hit the brakes and I went around it.”  When internet searches returned no results for the helmet, Weller built a team and product that, among other features, incorporates location based GPS navigation into a helmet.  Location is a form of context.  The point of sharing Weller’s story is to introduce context and the final industry watch for the 10th wearable prediction.

 Josh Bradshaw with Marcus WellerJosh Bradshaw of WorkTechWork.com with Marcus Weller, Skully Helmets CEO August 14, 2014

 Prediction # 10:  Contextual awareness will be enabled by wearable device adoption and become the next big thing in marketing and customer experience.

This is the tenth and final post in a Wearable Industry Watch Series for each of the 10 Wearables Predictions.  Visit the Wearable Industry Watch Series for details.

Weller’s contextually aware helmet is one example of a person’s location context being used to generate value for the wearer.  The wearer’s experience is enriched with information.  My first introduction to technology enabled contextual awareness came through Jeff Stevens, Founder & CEO of ContextM.  Stevens rightfully demoted content from its place as king in the world of mobile marketing and claims that in mobile marketing “Context is king, and content is queen.”

How so?  Enabled by computational power and data from data warehouses, social streams and wearable devices, marketers can go beyond targeting based on generalized segmentation:  relevant messages can be sent to a person by creating a complete understanding of several different forms of a person’s context.  These include but are not limited to a person’s location, who a person is with, where a person has come from, and, with the power of predictive analytics, where the person might be going next.  (For those interested in privacy, check out Who To Watch for Prediction #9 and Small Towns and Connected-World Privacy.)

Enrich Customer Experiences With Wearable Data

Context is about more than targeted marketing based on ambient intelligence; context is also about enriching customer experiences.  Customer experiences can be enriched in many ways which means there are applications of context out there yet to be discovered in the world of wearables.  Context can also be built in such a way that a device can understand its own context as well as the context of the user.

Sensor Platforms, which was recently acquired by Audience, developed FreeMotion™ Library, a software solution that enables sensor enabled device applications to better understand both the contexts and, where possible, the intent of a user engaging with a device.  For the purposes of this discussion we can consider smart phones as wearables because of their numerous sensors (and decorative cases people use to make a statement about who they are; see Who to Watch for Prediction #7).

FreeMotion™ enabled applications can understand various device contexts such as whether the phone is in a pocket, in a hand or sitting on a flat surface.  Similar to other fitness tracking wearables and the Moves App, user contexts can be derived from sensing current motion in the device.  Combined with location or other forms of context, the device can respond differently because sitting on the sofa at home is quite a different context from sitting in a train or sitting in a meeting at work.  As sensors consume energy, a focus on resource management is also made in order to improve energy consumption on the device (learn more about energy consumption in Who to Watch for Prediction #6).

Vehicles, Wearables & Context

No one is going to wear a car, but the car is becoming contextually aware.  Vehicles are now able to detect and communicate with phones and soon will be able to interact with other wearable devices.   We can look at contextual aware cars such as Google’s self-driving car, which has to be acutely aware of its own environment, for inspiration on context with wearables.

Lane assist technologies and automatic braking such as those  demonstrated in this stunt video by Hyundai are becoming available in a number of vehicles.

Mercedez Benz is developing amazing innovations for their smart cars.  Check out this Mercedes Benz contextual car demo with Robert Scoble, Startup Liaison Officer for Rackspace

And when it comes to amazing, a return to Weller and the contextually aware smart helmet is in order.  People are willing to support contextually aware innovation.  Only a few days into an Indiegogo campaign, Weller and his team have exceeded their $250k goal for the AR-1 by an astonishing 466% with over $1.1 million raised.  I tested it out at their offices yesterday and it is better than all the hype.Josh Bradshaw with AR-1

This is the last post in the Wearable Industry Watch.  For more details click here.

Back to the 1st Prediction: Who to Watch For Prediction #1

Previous Prediction: Who to Watch for Prediction #9

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Wearables Predictions: Who to Watch for Prediction #7

People take pride in what they wear; fashion is a multi-billion dollar industry.  Wearable technology entrepreneurs are taking product design seriously, serious enough to be called fashionable, thus enabling people to make a statement about who they are with a wearable device.  Are you making a statement with wearable technology? 

This is the seventh post in a Wearable Industry Watch Series for each of the 10 Wearables Predictions.  Follow this blog or Twitter handle @WorkTechWork to be notified of each part of the series. To view all predictions and links to the other parts of the series, visit the Wearable Industry Watch Series.ShineNodSenseFitbitToryBurch

Prediction #7:  People are going to use wearable technology to make a statement about who they are.

How many of you have worn a fitness tracker even though you knew the battery was dead?  Why did you do it?  Zero tracking is done during the day a dead fitness tracker is worn and folks do not get value from the lovely feel of silicone bands on their wrists so your motivation must have come from some other kind of value, value from making a statement about who you are.

Perhaps on the day the fitness tracker is dead, the statement is to yourself.  “Self, I’m going to be more active today even though I know this thing is off” and maybe a little, “Self, p.s. please remember to charge this tonight.”

I’m not sure you’ll do that many days before dropping the fitness tracker from your wardrobe.  It is more likely that the statement you make with the dead tracker on your wrist is to others because they cannot tell it is dead.  The dead fitness tracker still conveys your active lifestyle, early tech adopter mentality, or any other reason you would want someone to see a fitness tracker on your wrist.

Enough on dead fitness trackers, let’s have a look at some wearable products that are actually shaping up to be fashionable, products to keep an eye on to see if people start using wearable technology to make a statement about who they are.

Misfit Shine

In Who to Watch for Prediction #1 all single purpose fitness trackers including Misfit Shine are categorized as fad devices; however, the Misfit Shine looks cool, you can pick its color, and it is versatile in where it can be worn.  Some options include a few different choices of bands, a sport necklace or a prettier bloom necklace, or even a simple clip.  This product scores when it comes to remembering that a fitness tracker is more than just a fitness tracker, it is a fashion accessory people use to make a statement about who they are.

Nod

Nod, first introduced in Who to Watch for Prediction #2, is a gesture control ring.  As a piece of jewelry the design is important.  Nod places the bulky part of the ring under the finger so from a closed fist it looks like you’re wearing a thick, black band.  Not bad for a masculine look.  Nod designers are conscious of this and are contemplating ways Nod could be stylized to appeal to different genders; let’s see how they do in the coming months.  For now, though, like the original Model-T Ford, Nod can be pre-ordered in any color you want so long as that color is black.

Wiacts Sense

Sense by Wiacats is a gesture control device worn on the finger but it does not close completely around the finger to form a ring.  It has a sleek outer cover to shield the sensing components.  There are three colors in pictures on the Wiacts website, black, white and grey.  CEO Yaser Masoudnia, who is razor focused on creating a wearable that is easy to use and compatible with as many devices as possible, explained that Sense is not available for pre-order yet as in addition to finite sensing capabilities for IoT device control they are working on other functionalities, including payment authorization, before releasing Sense.

Tory Burch for Fitbit Flex

Fitbit has partnered with luxury lifestyle brand Tory Burch to create accessories for the Fitbit Flex.  These include a bracelet and pendant designs that one would not be surprised to see in a Nordstrom display.

Next Prediction: Who to Watch For Prediction #8

Previous Prediction: Who to Watch for Prediction #6

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Improving the Online Fashion Retail Experience

Technology is changing the retail world improving the online fashion retail experience. This is due in large part to personalization, the main topic of tomorrow’s @VLABretail event at Stanford GSB. Here is a sneak peek at the companies that will showcase their technology-enabled products and services prior to tomorrow’s @VLAB event. For a peak at what the event is all about, have a read here or visit the VLAB event site.

Shoefitr.com

Think it’s a pain to order shoes online? Shoefitr is out to reduce the pain by offering 3-D modeling of shoes. This gives customers the option to see in detail exactly how a shoe is expected to fit based on other shoes in their wardrobe. Instead of ordering three pairs of the same shoe in different sizes with the intention of returning two, you can confidently order one pair and skip the returns.

Dapperapp.com

Men typically hate shopping. All of us, regardless of gender, are doing more browsing on phones. The problem, though, is that shopping on retailer’s sites is not easy on a mobile device and spending is not occurring from the mobile phone as much as it could. Dapperapp.com is designed to make the shopping experience for men easy from their mobile phones. Swipe left to dislike, right to like and down to purchase. From viewing products to checkout, Dapper provides simple shopping for the savvy man.

Vastrm.com

Ever have trouble finding the perfect polo shirt? Vastrm is an online retailer providing tailored made to measure polo shirts for men. Vastrm is less about whether you are a medium or large and more about what fit within medium or large is best for you. Taking a page out of the Warby Parker book, you can have three polo shirts shipped for free to help you discover your fit.

PersonalShopping.com

For women looking for easy online shopping that is also personal, check out PersonalShopping.com during the event. Their message: “The best in women’s fashion, picked by our style experts just for you.” A simple 3 minute quiz starts you on your way to shopping through items that are right for your style and fit so that you can purchase items from your favorite retailers.

3/7/2016 updated link to VLAB event website.  You can view a recording of the event too.  Also corrected the links to ShoeFitr.com and Vastrm.com.  The sites for Dapperapp.com and PersonalShopping.com are no longer functioning.  Former DapperApp.com CEO Amir Malayery is now at Industry Ventures, a Silicon Valley VC.  I’ve yet to confirm what is happening with PersonalShopping.com.

Wearable Technology: Fashion, Fad or Future?

I see them everywhere, pedometers, smart watches and Google Glass.  Of course, I am in the Silicon Valley and attend many technology related events so I expect to see at least a few extra devices a week but even outside the Silicon Valley, people are purchasing and using sensor enabled wearable technology.  This begs the question, in the world of technology solutions, is wearable technology fashion, fad or the future?

Answer:  All of the above.

Fashion encompasses not only clothing and hair styles, it includes accessories and even how one behaves.  If you’re donning Google Glass, you are making a fashion statement and it has not taken long for people to describe glass wearer behavior, glassholes beware.  Wearable technology devices such as pedometers are encouraging people to change their behavior to be more active.  In the health arena hundreds of ideas are being hatched to improve health by monitoring and suggesting changed behaviors.

Does anyone remember the cute electronic pets of the 90s?  Fad.  Some wearable devices entering the market today will fall into this category.  They will be here and then gone in a few short years, unlike other 90s devices such as those by Palm which led the way to the smart phones of today.  Those designing and launching wearable devices need to make sure their products are really useful or they will become no more than a fad.  Don’t take this as me saying fad-like wearables should not be developed and sold; these fad wearables are necessary to pave the way for the wearables of the future.  The businesses producing them are going to learn a great deal and pivot on to future ideas that will create the future of wearable devices.

A look at the future of wearable technology has me excited for all the ways technology will be working for people.  This leads me to these eight wearable future predictions:

1)      Wearables of the future will be more than fad devices; they will satisfy customer needs.

2)      Where wearables are silo solutions now, in the future they will be better integrated with other wearables and the wider Internet of Things.

3)      Companies that combine the information of multiple sensors in multiple wearable devices will create more value for their consumers than producers of single wearable devices.

4)      Wearables will become more intelligent because of developments in sensor technology and the ability to translate data from these sensors into insight via analytics.

5)      The cost of sensors will continue to go down, thus enabling more uses and innovation with sensors in wearable devices.

6)      Wearable devices will need less frequent charging because of better energy storage and lower energy consumption.

7)      People are going to use wearable technology to make a statement about who they are.

8)      People are going to use undetectable wearable technology by using wearable ultra-sensitive micro sensors, sensors smaller and more sensitive than the innovative seat belt microphone in Audi’s R8 Spyder that enables clear cell phone conversation with the top down at lightning speeds.

See the introduction to Wearable Predictions 9 & 10 here: An Update on Wearables Predictions

See the Industry Watch for each prediction here:

Who to Watch for Prediction #1 Wearables Will Satisfy Customer Needs

Who to Watch for Prediction #2 Wearables:  Silo to Integrated w/IoT

Who to Watch for Prediction #3 Wearable Alpha: More value from multiple wearable devices and sensors

Who to Watch for Prediction #4 Analytics & Sensor Tech Improve Wearable Intelligence

Who to Watch for Prediction #5 Wearable Sensor Costs Decreasing

Who to Watch for Prediction #6 Energy: Improved Storage & Lower Consumption for Wearables

Who to Watch for Prediction #7 People to Make Statements with Wearables

Who to Watch for Prediction #8 People Use Undetectable Wearables

Who to Watch for Prediction #9 Wearable Data Ownership Debate

Who to Watch for Prediction #10 Wearables Enable Contextual Awareness

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