Smart Apparel: What is Wearable Tech?

How often do you check your phone? Once every few minutes? More? It is not uncommon for someone to feel naked without their phone, but do you ever stop to wonder why? Some believe that it is because of its ability to keep people connected. Others claim it is because of the versatility it offers as a tool.

Whatever the reason, soon you’ll be able to get your fix somewhere other than your phone.

Smart apparel, or “smartwear”, is clothing-based technology that gives all the versatility of a phone but is worn by the user. Some examples include: Heart rate-monitoring sportswear, jackets that can give GPS direction, and, perhaps most famously, the Apple Watch.

Smartwear is clothing designed to utilize modern technology. The Apple Watch is a keen example of this: it puts all the convenience of a smartphone onto your wrist. Take calls, receive messages, set reminders with Siri, and even get emails with your watch. It’s revolutionary.

Apple is in no way the first to fuse technology and apparel. They are, however, one of the first to have such a high level of success with it.

As it stands right now, the market seems to be leaning towards activewear for its smart apparel. This decision is not that surprising, considering all the applications where smartwear can be utilized.

A common trait of smart activewear is to track pulse rate, calories burned, acceleration, distance traveled, and steps counted. These applications all take relatively low computing power to accomplish, making it easy for many products to utilize this technology. With smaller hardware, designers are free to incorporate the technology more seamlessly. Examples include Fitbit, the before mentioned Apple Watch, and the Polar Team Pro Shirt, just to name a few.

The reason why other categories of apparel haven’t fully embraced smartwear is most likely due to ignorance. It is not uncommon for this trend to be viewed as gimmicky. While this claim is not entirely unfounded, it is most certainly near-sighted. It’s only a matter of time before the industry realizes the potential of smartwear.

Today, activewear seems to be the most explored aspect of smartwear, but it’s hardly the final destination. If technological advances continue at this exponential rate, it’s likely that smartwear will become much more than a niche. Smartwear clearly has a bright future. All that’s left to answer is: which company will corner the market?


By Ian McAllister


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