Are Smart Clothes the Real Future Of Wearable Tech?


2014 was supposed to be “the year of wearable tech,” but four months in, it seems clear that it’s going to take some time for wearables to go mainstream. The majority of attention is being paid to smartbands and smartwatches, and new entries to the market keep coming. Google has announced their expansion outside of Glass with smartwatch Android Wear, Nissan has unveiled a watch concept that would pair wearable tech with the car industry, Disney has made headlines with their new smartbands for guests, even Will.i.am is developing a smartwatch. The competition to be the star of tech that lives on our wrists is intense, but so far it is unclear whether consumers—even tech-hungry Millennials— are going to embrace these innovations. Research suggests that one-third of those who have purchased wearable tech abandoned their devices after just six months of use, causing some to wonder if the “next big thing” in tech is a harder sell than brands previously suspected. One of the big issues of wristband and Glass technology is that currently it is very noticeable and not necessarily stylish. We wrote that wearable tech would have to be either beautiful or undetectable to be embraced by a broader audience than the techie crowd, and the makers of these devices are heeding the warning, with Google partnering with glasses-maker Luxxotica for more fashionable Glass frames, and Intel working with Opening Ceremony and Barneys New York to create a wristband that actually looks cool. 

So what will the future of wearable tech actually look like? The answer may lie in the items that we already wear everyday. Smart clothes have the advantage of being less detectable and potentially more fashion-forward than current wearable tech items. The category also has the potential to be more naturally integrated into…

 
 

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“Art is basically my job and I enjoy it so much.”—Female, 15, MD

Snap is making its “biggest move” in scripted original content, teaming up with NBCUniversal and the Duplass brothers for their next series. The Duplass-owned creative studio Donut will produce original series for Snap shot in vertical video. NBCU and Snap will also be opening a joint digital content studio focused completely on mobile-first entertainment, “formaliz[ing] their partnership” and putting Snap firmly in the producing/original content creation camp. Snap’s mobile-only approach is part of a movement to shake up how we view videos—in fact, they’re calling their offering “a fundamentally new medium.” (THRTechCrunch)

Eggo frozen waffles are capitalizing on their unexpected Stranger Things’ fame. The brand has seized the marketing opportunity of being a part of one of Millennials & Gen Z’s favorite shows, tying themselves into Netflix’s Super Bowl ad, creating a special toaster for select fans, and swarming New York Comic Con with people dressed up like Eleven armed with “watch party kits” (aka “waffles and a microwavable syrup server”). To prep for the premiere of season two of the show, Eggo is sending out a fully-loaded food truck for the red carpet premiere, and going all out on social media to connect with fans. (MediaPost)

More teens than ever have severe anxiety, but why? The American College Health Association found a 12% increase in undergrads reporting “overwhelming anxiety” from 2011 to 2016, and several studies concur that “there’s just been a steady increase of severely anxious students.” Social media is part of the problem—constant like-monitoring and cyber bullying isn’t helping the most stressed generation to date. There’s also an increasing (and constant) perceived need to over-achieve. One psychology professor observes, “There’s always one more activity, one more A.P. class, one more thing to do in order to get into a top college.” (NYTimes)

Ypulse research has shown that 88% of Millennial parents are trying to avoid helicopter parenting—but they might not be able to help it. The constant media storm of global atrocities and everyday stories of parenting gone wrong combined with advertisers’ willingness to fear-monger, results in a generation of (understandably) anxious parents. It doesn’t help that the tech to constantly monitor kids is easily available (albeit pricey)—from drone surveillance meant for the military to devices that track “blood-oxygen levels all night long.” One relationship therapist sums up, “Everyone is having a hard time drawing a line and just figuring out what’s reasonable versus what’s over-protective.” (Refinery29)

Brands are turning college students into mini-sales forces. Aerie, Victoria’s Secret Pink, and Express are just a few of the many brands that have a program for college campus reps where students receive swag, experience, and other perks for helping bring brand awareness to their colleges. Though brands don’t always require social posts, most ambassadors do share their swag on social, bringing organic ads to their friends’ feeds. The biggest draw is that social posts from reps “[come] across as natural, authentic, a product that they would normally use or want to talk about.” (Racked)

“[Celebrity] can mean anything nowadays and it's a rather diluted term; from YouTube star, to someone on Instagram with millions of followers, to reality TV dopes, etc.”—Male, 30, WI

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