Every now and then, a revolutionary product comes to the market, which redefines a given product (or the whole category of products) as a whole. There are many examples of this in the tech industry: mobile phones, touchscreens with multi touch technology, wireless charging and so on. But sometimes, a semi-abstract idea can spawn a whole set of different products. One of them is IoT (Internet of Things), which laid the foundations for development of wearable products such as smartwatches, smart clothing or other various everyday objects with “smart” functionality. Let’s take a look at where we are now in terms of popularity of wearables — and what the possible outcomes of their evolution could be.
Internet of Things — a big idea in action, which created products like smart clothing
IoT is not a new concept in itself, although it may be surprising how early it was coined. In the year 1999, at a Procter & Gamble presentation, Kevin Ashton (a British entrepreneur) used this term for the first time. It’s original meaning is to describe a web of interconnected “things” (not necessarily only computers and phones), which store, analyze and exchange various categories of data. An alternative term for IoT is “Internet of Everything”, which maybe even better describes how everyday objects are becoming more and more digitized due to the rapid technology development.
So, how exactly IoT relates to objects like smartwatches, Bluetooth-controlled light bulbs or smart clothing? It’s very simple. IoT devices can be divided into many categories of devices which serve a variety of different purposes (elder care, smart home building, medicine, manufacturing goods and so on). One of these categories are wearables — computers which are embedded into objects like smart bands, smart shoes or jackets. It’s IoT in action on the consumer market, designed to provide their users as much information as possible, mostly using for this purpose specially designed sensors.
This market is constantly growing — it’s estimated that its global market capitalization is around 31 billion dollars. Although it’s an impressive figure already, most probably it will rapidly increase in the future.
Developing branches of wearable devices
There are many wearable products often considered to be nothing more than “gadgets”, designed just to show how fast the technology solutions are advancing. Such products can be smart rings, smart fingers (sic!) or belts and even ties. But not every smart clothing is just a gadget, and a good case study for this can be the development of smart jackets.
Products of this category usually expand the functionality of heated jackets, which were introduced around the year 2000. The original heated clothes used simple thermostats to set the desired temperature for heating pads, usually embedded in the back part of the clothing. Today’s smart clothing products, such as jackets manufactured by Jay23, are not only providing the heating function, but also introduce many other useful features.
One of them is smartphone charging. As we know, heated clothes in most cases use large-capacity rechargeable li-ion or li-poly batteries. That creates the opportunity for using their energy for different purposes than just heating pockets, and smartphone charging is a perfect example of taking advantage of this opportunity.
It’s worth mentioning that smart clothing is designed to be a stand-alone visual statement, which allows their users to choose any aesthetics they like. Jay23’s jackets are meant for gamers, and inspired by board game-like aesthetics. Of course, their design choices fit not only gamers’ aesthetics, but wide audience’s too.
The future of wearable devices
As we look at the history of IoT development, it’s clear that they get closer and closer to the user’s body — first the smartwatches and smart bands, then smart jackets and other types of smart clothing. There are many predictions regarding the future inventions in this field, and one of them is that in a few years smart tattoos will be introduced. Doesn’t that sound exciting?