The Internet of Things (IoT) might as well be called the “Internet of Everything” because it seems like almost everything is becoming smarter, even your clothing.

We’ve all probably heard of or had a personal experience with products like the Apple Watch and Fitbit. But what’s going to drive the wearable market in the future aren’t going to be fitness bands or watches at all. It’s going to be smart wearable clothing and we’re already on our way.

Why are we stuck on fitness products?

Right now it seems like the wearable market is just focused on fitness products. It makes sense as it’s quite easy to make them as it’s simpler to counting steps, etc. But companies need to get past fitness bands and develop smart clothing that is not only fashionable and comfortable, but is also able to enhance your health.

If they don’t manage to do it, there’s a good chance that the wearable marketplace will stagnate.

Tech giants like Google and Samsung have already gotten their feet wet, so have other companies like OMSignal and Under Armour. However, these products are also focused on fitness that can only be beneficial to those obsessed with going to the gym.

Smart clothing is for everyone

Unlike fitness bands, smart clothing can be ideal for everyone. Regardless of whether it’s a smart bra or a smart t-shirt, it doesn’t require any extra effort to wear it. Further, it won’t be just focused on going to the gym!

Slipping on a smart t-shirt or hooking on a smart bra in the morning doesn’t require any extra effort. Regardless of age or personal interests, smart clothing has the potential to be beneficial for everyone. This is why it has the potential to change fashion forever.

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At the moment, the biggest hurdle for the industry has been the fact that smart watches and fitness bands are quite obvious and people aren’t really into something so apparent.

Further, devices like Fitbits are something you have to take off and charge on a regular basis. But if your pants and t-shirts could do the same thing without requiring you to go to the gym or need regular charging, it can be appealing to everyone.

The Apple Watch is made to look like a traditional watch because people don’t like it to be too obvious. But you can still spot it easily from a distance.

Smart clothes look normal and are much easier to customize than their wristband counterparts. Sensors can be incorporated into clothing easily and will probably be in better places than your wrist to keep track of your health.

Further, without much effort you have several options when it comes to styles and colors. In fact, there are more varieties of smart clothing right now than smart watches or fitness trackers.

For example, look at Samsung’s smart suit (prototype) or the smart bra from OMSignal, and you’ll see a lot of variety.

How does smart clothing work?

Smart fabrics are made with conductive components like CircuiteX technology made by Noble Biomaterials. Basically the threads protect the individual from electrical signals and the sensors within it make what you’re wearing an image sensor.

It’s all about getting the most out of your life by using user generated data with smart clothing. So it’s more than reasonable to expect smart clothing to become the norm in the near future.

I mean, why would you buy anything else when you have “smart” options?

The only thing companies need to ensure is that the fact that the feedback needs to be actionable. At the moment, the typical biometrics measurements for smart wearables are as follows:

  • Breathing efficiency
  • Calories burnt
  • Distance
  • Fatigue levels
  • Heart rate
  • Steps

But there’s a whole lot more we can do with smart clothes (that can take the industry beyond fitness). For example, biometric data can be used to ascertain one’s emotional wellbeing. By measuring your heartrate, muscle tension, and breathing, smart clothing can immediately measure and determine that you’re anxious or stressed. Further, it can send you a push notification (to your smartphone) to tell you to take a step back and take a deep breath (or practice mindfulness).

These kinds of functions to help you manage stress and being more mindful in your day to day activities can essentially enhance your physical and emotional wellbeing.

It’s really just the beginning as smart clothing has endless possibilities when it comes to health IT.

The best smart wearable clothing options in the market are as follows:

  • Adidas hot pants (ADIPOWER muscle warming technology)
  • Athos (ideal for muscle focused exercises)
  • Heartrate bra (Victoria’s Secret)
  • Hexoskin (smart shirts)
  • OMSignal bra
  • Ralph Lauren PoloTech shirt
  • Radiate (smart t-shirt)

Conclusion

It’s difficult to speculate how fashion design will be influenced by this new technology, but it definitely has the potential to change fashion forever. But for smart clothing to really take over the fashion industry, it will have to break away from the fitness segment to cater to a larger audience.

Further, smart clothing will also need to look like traditional clothing, be fashionable, affordable, and most importantly provide actionable feedback.

Where do you see smart wearable clothing in a couple of years? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below or send us a tweet to @Intersog.

Andrew Zola is a freelance writer, designer, and artist working in branding and marketing for over ten years. He is a contributor to various publications with a focus on new technology and marketing.

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