Wearables: More than just bands and watches

WTW's Simon Jones puts a speaker through his paces at the Wearable Tech Show in London (photo: John Weir)

There’s more to wearable technology than meets the eye. Wearables are becoming invisible and there are more and more examples of smart tech being integrated into clothing.

The clothing industry is paying close attention to smart apparel, as demonstrated by the full-to-bursting Smart Textiles and Fashion track at last week’s Wearable Technology Show in London.

Cath Rogan puts in a good word for WTW during her panel session at the Wearable Technology Show

Cath Rogan puts in a good word for WTW during her panel session at the Wearable Technology Show

The show proved to be a huge draw, with more than 3700 delegates attending over two days, and every seat in the house taken for the Smart Textiles & Fashion track – moderated by WTW’s Simon Jones.

WTW's Simon Jones puts a speaker through his paces at the Wearable Tech Show in London (photo: John Weir)

WTW’s Simon Jones puts Christian Dalsgaard from Ohmatex through his paces at the Wearable Tech Show in London (photo: John Weir)

The day started with an energetic presentation by the designers behind pop star Katy Perry’s pulsing on-stage outfits, CuteCircuit, and wrapped up with a panel session on the Connected Garment of the future, chaired by Cath Rogan, principal of the wearable textiles advisory firm, Smart Garment People.

Panelists explained that sensors in clothing are already a reality – and even able to stand up to repeated cycles in the washing machine. They are also getting smaller, with Dominique Vicard, CTO of Primo1D showing his firm’s E-Thread technology, which integrates electronics into a yarn.

For WTW, one of the many highlights of the day was a presentation from Steven F. Small, Director of the Zephyr Training Business Unit at Medtronic – which specializes in performance and wellbeing monitoring technologies that can be used in extreme situations.

For example, Medtronic technology was used by Oracle’s winning team in the America’s Cup yacht racing last September. Medtronic’s equipment was also used to monitor the wellbeing of the Chilean miners who were trapped underground for 69 days in 2010 before they could be rescued.

A full house: The view from the stage

A full house: The view from the stage

High-tech clothing is also becoming more and more comfortable, with the latest range of sports clothing able to support heart-rate tracking without the need to wear an uncomfortable elastic chest strap, because the mounting points for a Bluetooth HR sensor are built in to smart bras and jogging tops for men.

One example, a bra made for lingerie chain Victoria’s Secret, was shown by Mikko Malmivaara from Clothing+.

Mikko Malmivaara from Clothing Plus shows a smart bra his firm has made for Victoria's Secret

Mikko Malmivaara from Clothing+ shows a smart bra his firm has made for Victoria’s Secret

The take-away message: Wearable technology is becoming invisible as it is integrated into clothing. There’s much more to the “fad” than just smart wristbands and smartwatches.

/WTW

 

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