You are what you wear – the phrase takes on a literal meaning in today’s era of digital wearables. Companies from Intel to Nike are jumping on this important trend,which will be explored in depth at the Brand Innovators Fashion Week summit, February 14 in New York.
Brad Berens, Principal at Big Digital Idea Consulting and Senior Research Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future, will moderate the panel “Are Wearables the New Black” and deliver a keynote address, “Haut Données: Wearable Computers & the New Marketing Frontier?”
To explore the topic in further depth, as well as provide a primer, Berens has authored Brand Innovators’ first of its kind publishing event, White Paper: “2 Kinds of Wearables – Info Display vs. Creation and How They Work With Time.”
The Internet, Berens explains, has undergone a series of transformations that saw things change from us going to it – to a desktop setup in a particular room, where connectivity was a process that had to be dialed-up – to portability, the advent of WiFi and laptops circa 2004 meant now the computer could travel with us – to wearables, the next logical step: the computer is on us.
“The progress of the Internet is it’s gotten closer and closer to our faces, then with wearables, suddenly it pops up on our body, right up to our eyes, and also displays on our wrists with smart watches. That makes computing a lot more convenient than having to grab something out of a purse or a pocket. Suddenly, it’s covering you, that is the phenomena of the journey of wearables, and what I’ll be talking about at the Brand Innovators summit,” Berens said.
At the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in January wearables were all the rage. Intel signaled its intent to kick-start the fashion for wearables, introducing the Edison – effectively a Pentium-class computer the size and shape of an SD-card – announcing collaborations with Barneys New York and the CFDA and a $1.3 million contest to “Make It Wearable.”
Early uses for Edison include earbuds that measure biometrics, displaying them on a smartphone even as they’re pumping out music and the Mimo, a baby monitor built into a onesie that can begin warming a bottle when a sleeping infant begins to stir.
The Nike FuelBand, the Pebble smartwatch and glasses galore, from Google and others – this is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to wearables, which fall into two categories, creation and display, Berens explains: bringing information to the wearer or transmitting the wearer’s data out to some other device.
Clothes are now able to recognize things and transmit that information in ways that are a lot more fluid than other types of digital interaction, which has huge implications for fashion.
“There are some Interesting high fashion applications – changing color with a person’s mood,” Berens said. “You can use computation to render clothing or even a scent dynamic. If you take fashion and the distinction between creation and display, the obvious thing people will be thinking about is garments as display devices. We already have them, but then that information creates the question: how does the data around an individual’s uses create some sort of opportunity for brand maketers to interact with their customers in new and exciting ways?”