Many would argue that the term "fashionable technology" is an oxymoron. Until recently, these two words rarely sat next to each other in a sentence. Now, as more buzz centers around wearable technology, some people can’t help but wonder if this could be a new up-and-coming trend.
Until recently, technology was associated with geeks. And let’s face it: That group has never been on the forefront of fashionable trends. But with Apple’s recent hire of Burberry’s CEO, Angela Ahrendts, the conversation about merging technology and fashion got a whole lot hotter – and it keeps heating up as more wearable tech is introduced to the market. Let’s take a closer look at what’s caught fire in the tech industry. What do you think? Are these wearable technologies geek or chic?
Have you seen someone walking around wearing funky looking glasses and talking to themselves? They may be wearing Google Glass. These cybergoggles have gotten a lot of hype – but not a whole lot of adoption in the market. According to a May 2013 study by mobile applications specialist BiTE Interactive, 38 percent of people would never buy or wear Google Glass even if it was priced within their budget, while 45 percent of people said that they thought Google Glass would be socially awkward or irritating. Even with the latest design simplification, Google Glass is less than subtle. Although the technology seems smart, and the idea of living in a very digitized world amuses many, it may be a while before Google Glass is seen on the fashion runway. (Get more insight in Is Google Glass Groundbreaking … Or Just Plain Goofy?)
The Verdict: Geek
For years, watches have been a coveted fashion accessory for men and women alike. After Pebble, the first smartwatch to make headlines, set new records on Kickstarter, technology experts started paying attention. Now, smartwatches have taken the old-fashioned hands and gears of the watch and brought time-keeping into the digital age.
According to a study released by Forrester in June 2013, 29 percent of adults said that they would wear a sensory device on their wrist. The innovative technology is also pretty impressive – and useful. With a tap on the wrist, you can play music, read your email, socialize and more. Watch developers have also used great design, colors and wristbands to make these new devices look (mostly) more chic than geek.
The Verdict: Chic
If you own a cell phone, iPod or any other portable technology, then you know how frustratingly lost you can feel when the battery runs out. To stop that from happening, innovators in the tech industry have developed clothing and accessories that work double time to keep your phone and tech gear charged.
Wearable chargers may be the most fashion forward of the current wearable technologies because they are so discreet. One startup, Wearable Solar is working to develop a jacket that, when worn in the sun for an hour, can charge a cell phone up to 50 percent. Another fashion-forward tech company, Everpurse created a bag that men and women can use to quickly charge their phones in a pinch.
The Verdict: Chic
Wearable Health and Fitness Gizmos
Perhaps the first to adapt wearable technology as the norm is the health and fitness industry. Here, wearable technologies can be adopted more discreetly, and be put to use in a number of practical ways.
Just check out some of the cool ways wearable technology is being adopted in the health and fitness industry:
- A bracelet that doubles as a personal air purifier developed by Electrolux Design Lab
- A bike helmet developed by Adafruit to make navigating while riding easier
- Writstbands that monitors sleep, activity and more, such as those developed by FitBit
- Sports bras that tracks heart rate, developed by NuMetrix
Unobtrusive technology that helps us be fitter, healthier and more in tune with our bodies? That’s chic.
Where Technology and Fashion Meet
The tech industry used to essentially ignore aesthetics, but it is quickly realizing the importance of being fashion forward in the wearable technology industry. No longer is it enough to have geeky technology that can do cool things. Now, to be really successful in this niche, companies must appeal to a wider market by offering technology with looks that are as impressive as its performance.
Apple, of course, figured that out a long time ago. But Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that the field of fashionable technology is still "…ripe for exploration." That suggests that the latest gadgets will increasingly be ones even the most fashion-forward people are proud to own.