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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“I move around every few years so it would be a huge hassle to have to buy and sell property so frequently.”—Female, 28, IN

Gen Z will spend the most on rent of any generation, but Millennials aren’t far behind. HotPads estimates that 2-20-year-olds will spend $226,000 on rent before they buy a home and 24-38-year-olds will ring in at $202,000. Despite the difference, Gen Z will own their first home one year earlier than Millennials because they’ll have “a stronger job market than [M]illennials”—but, despite the myths, they are buying homes in greater numbers. PS: Los Angeles tops the list of where young demos will spend the most on rent. (Business Insider)

What’s behind board games' popularity today? The NPD Group found that board games grew 8% compared to the toy industry’s overall growth of 8% in the past year and has “no signs of slowing down.” Digital detoxing plays a part, as more Millennial parents worry about their kids’ screen time and seek toys that foster face-to-face relationships. But despite the analog appeal, games are also getting high-tech and the word-of-mouth media they receive propels social media-friendly games like Pie Face to the top of toy charts. (Kidscreen)

Parents still have the most influence over kids today, but online celebrities are also top role models. Mintel research found that 86% of 6-17-year-olds say their parents are among their top role models, 62% say teachers, and 41% say siblings. But the top kind of celebrity that gets added to the category are social media celebrities at 35%, followed closely by musicians and athletes. Only 22% said actors were among their top role models and just 16% said the President. (MediaPost)

Disney has a new beverage to fill your Instagram feed: The Purple Wall Slushie. The Millennial & Gen Z-loved company has had no problem coming up with social media-friendly items, from Baby Groot bread to a viral Beauty and the Beast-inspired tumbler, and now they’ve rolled out a boba and taro beverage at Disney World. The Purple Wall is a famous destination to snap a pic for social media in the Magic Kingdom, and this slushy is made specifically to match up with the wall (and monetize on it). (POPSUGARInsider)

Speaking of Instagrammability, the Space Needle’s new, clear benches are sure to make for a thrilling photo op. The iconic viewing deck for the Seattle skyline has been in the midst of a makeover to create a better (and decidedly more social media-worthy) viewing experience. A metal base and caging has been replaced with a high glass wall from floor to sky, and so-called “skyrisers” will let visitors sit right on the edge of it all—and snap a selfie. (Curbed)

“People have been planning outfits since the start of the year [for prom].”—Male, 15, NC

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