They both made tech look good on the wearer, while also helping to manage their electronic lives without having to pick up their phones. But now we have to say goodbye to two of the most promising wearable tech brands so far of the fashion tech era.
Ringly, founded in 2013 by Christina Mercando D’Avignon, sadly decided to exit the market just a little over a week ago. On the same day, WiseWear, founded by Jerry Wilmink and fronted by fashion icon Iris Apfel, filed for bankruptcy. Hopefully we’ll see new things from the creators of these brands in the future though.
Iris Apfel, wearing Wise Wear smart jewelry, with Wise Wear creator Jerry Wilmink.
Soon you’l be able to talk to Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant, in more places than in the e-commerce giant’s own device Echo. Now the company has taken yet another step towards becoming a serious part of digital every day life, by letting other companies use Alexa in their products.
One of them is a pair of smart glasses manufactured by the small company Vuzix Corp that’s going to be showcased at CES2018 in Las Vegas this week. The Vuzix Blade, as the glasses are called, can communicate with the voice activated digital assistant and also show information like for instance maps, directions, social media feeds or sport scores in the wearer’s view field, according to Business of Fashion. This is not the only third-party company that uses Alexas communication skills. In October, Sonos released a smart speaker with Alexa’s system for music playing.
Fashion-wise, they do have a long way to go though. Looking like your typical movie theatre 3D glasses, this is not the product that’s going to popularize the smart glasses, I am sorry to say. But I guess we’ll just keep on waiting.
Screenshots of The Vuzix Blade smart glasses, powered by Amazon’s Alexa voice activated digital assistant.
As you know, the new year is already upon us, but for us tech nerds the real new year’s celebrations are still a few days away: On Tuesday, January 9, the annual Consumer Electronics Show 2018 is kicking off and we’re all anticipating what’s next in the world of AI, VR, AR, robotics, wearable tech and all that. I for one, am going to keep an extra eye open for the Fashionware Show, that will showcase high tech textiles, experimental fashion, VR and AR fashion experiences, AI Stylists and much, much more.
And of course there’s the Wearable Technology Summit, where experts from ELLE, Heisel, Fossil Group and Ashley Chloe is going to discuss how wearables are moving from geeky to fashion-forward. Still a much needed step if you ask me…
A host of other interesting brands and people are also making appearances, such as Dr Amanda Parkes from Fashion Tech Lab, speaking about textiles of the future and ELLE USA:s fashion tech editor Jenna Blaha, speaking about the wearable as a fashion statement. Stay tuned!
What’s next to replace our beloved smart phones? That has been an ongoing discussion for years among futurists, technologists and basically anyone who is interested in the future of our everyday tech. Ideas are constantly flying around, and one of the latest are one from the digital communications company and mobile network operator O2. Together with beauty brand Nails Inc, they have designed a prototype finger nail that doubles as a mobile phone. Using Bluetooth technology, the mobile device can be tucked away and in the meantime the user can answer the phone, play a song or redial the last number called, using just the nail. Nina Bibby of O2 shared this about the prototype:
– The way our customers interact with one another will change drastically in the next thirty years, and as a brand we’ll need to adapt to this. We are always looking ahead to the next developments in mobile and to be able to bridge the gap between fashion and tech is a really exciting challenge. People have been customising mobile phones for years, but this is the next step towards tech becoming part of how we decorate our bodies.
This actualizes the question about how tech is merging with our bodies; with AI getting closer and closer to what used to be confined to a human brain and the way machine learning has made Virtual Reality feel more real than ever before. Perhaps this prototype can appear a ”kinder”, more concrete version of the tech of the future. Easier to handle, and easier to adapt to.
Photo cred: O2
A couple of weeks ago I was pondering if the smart watch might be having a comeback, considering the releases of several new ones in spite of recent years of dropping sales. And proof of that just keeps getting stronger. Just recently a new smart watch, that differs from most others, saw the light of day. The new collection from New York Standard Watch hasn’t just kept the traditional wristwatch look with the round watch face and the leather straps, but has actually skipped the whole touch screen altogether. Yes, no touch screen! How does that even work, you ask.
Well, they offer all the traditional notification and fitness tracking functions such as steps and calorie count, but display them on an analogue dashboard instead. It is actually kind of genius when you think about it.
Me and many others have long argued that a piece of wearable tech simply must be aesthetically pleasing for us to even consider putting it on. But being easy on the eye might actually not be enough to succeed. It might also need that hands on, analogue, three dimensional feel to really make it. That perfect merge between tradition and innovation, the just right mix of old and new.
I’m not saying NYSW has the final solution to this, but theirs is certainly an interesting step in that direction.
Photo credit: NYSW
Speaking of wearable tech, you have to check this out! British electronics company RS Components have put together this fun tool for predicting what kind of wearable tech innovations you’ll be likely to experience during your lifetime. Just enter your age and see for yourself. http://uk.rs-online.com/web/generalDisplay.html?id=future-of-wearables#
Wearables in general and smart watches in particular were hotter than hot in 2015. Just shy of two years later though, the situation had changed. By the end of 2016, smart watch sales dropped dramatically. And so many other things had emerged in the fashion tech area that seemed so much more interesting; the development of retail tech for instance. The age of the smart watch seemed to be over. Something that belonged to the infancy of this ever emerging innovation area. But you should never say never apparently.
Only in the past few weeks, at least two new smart watch models have emerged: This week Marc Jacobs released his Riley Hybrid watch with basic functions such as step counting, and just days before saw the launch of Tory Burch’s Tory track Hybrid, with activity and sleep tracking. And on top of that, Swedish watch brand Triwa recently got financing to build contactless payment services into watch straps.
What is going on??! Are we suddenly moving back in time?
No, more likely is that the broader market is finally ready for this product. While the early adopters have moved on to other things, people in general may have started to notice these little gadgets and the way they differentiate themselves from the more commonly used, sporty looking, fitness trackers. Style may actually have won an important victory here.
Marc Jacobs Riley Hybrid.
Tory Burch holiday 2017.