CC by David Hilowitz
Wearable technology is nothing new – we’ve already seen Apple unveil its long-awaited Apple Watch and seen Katy Perry strut her stuff in an LED dress. But, what’s the future of wearable tech and is it here to stay?
While it’s clear that wearable technology has an appeal to the fashion and gadget-conscious among us, wearable tech has long being used within the health industry for more practical concerns. If you take hearing aids for example, it was once the case that devices were rather large and noticeable for the wearer. Nowadays, technology has advanced to a stage where hearing aids are much more inconspicuous in their design.
Audiology specialists like Hidden Hearing for example, offer hearing aids which are almost invisible and fit inside the contours of the ear. In the same way as we’ve seen mobile phones and mp3 players reduce in size over the years hearing aids have moved in a similar direction. As well as the more traditional in-ear designs, hearing aids are also available as necklaces and within the frames of glasses.
From an aesthetic point of view, clothing designers have been quick to explore new ways of incorporating technology in their designs. The LED dress Katy Perry wore in 2010 helped the trend to gain visibility and since then there have been countless celebrities who have jumped on the bandwagon. Remember the Jimmy Choo Zap flashing sandals worn by Fergie? Or how about Lady Gaga’s animatronic dress with moving wings?
There’s no doubt that such outlandish designs add to the stage presence of celebs, but is it a trend which is here to stay and how much does it appeal to the general public?
According to trend forecaster WGSN, the wearables market is here to stay but we should expect to see a change in direction in the coming years. There will be a move away from flashing lights and gimmickry and a move towards incorporating communication elements to serve a more practical purpose. For example, phones and cameras which are integrated into garments.
Surrey-based firm Intelligent Textiles has already begun to consider the more practical element of wearable tech by weaving electronic circuits into military uniforms. The idea is that soldiers will only need to carry a single power source rather than multiple batteries.
While the novelty element of wearable tech may be short-lived, once companies harness the idea of using wearable tech to solve genuine problems, it’s likely the market will continue to expand.