Imagine yourself at the biggest event of the year. As you prepare to step out onto the red carpet, your Google Glasses are activated. “OK Glass, record video”.
The strobing flashes of the paparazzi meet you as your adrenaline begins to kick in, and your high-fashion mood sweater begins to change colors with your emotions. The 3-D printed fabric that makes up your pants is as light as a feather, and clings to your body like an invisible glove. Multiple micro sensors within the fabric are monitoring your vital signs and uploading them to your private health records. Your GPS location is also recorded, and automatically, you are “checked in” at the event, sharing this exciting moment with your social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram. Through these wearable devices, you are constantly connected.
Did you ever consider the idea that one day, you would be able to wear your cell phone, or your personal computer as an accessory to your every day outfit? I certainly didn’t. In general, when most of us consider the common forms of technology that we all live amongst today, the majority of us think of things like our laptops, GPS trackers, and of course the device that 6 year olds now carry around nowadays, the cellular telephone. Technology has unavoidably filtered into nearly every aspect of the average person’s life. But what exactly are some of these innovations that are quickly making their way into our daily routines? What are “wearables”? What is the function of computerized clothing or “smart fabrics”, and how can they improve our lifestyles? The bridge between technology and fashion is manifesting at an undeniable rate ladies and gents…it is time to trade in those old calculator watches from the 80’s and upgrade to the new Pebble Smartwatch (which can do just about everything your smart phone does from your wrist). During this year’s International CES Convention (Consumer Electronic Show), functional and fashionable wearables were at the top of the docket for discussion. Ready or not, smart accessories and clothing are going to make their way into our lives, and we will adapt, just as we always do.
So, what are “wearables”?
The definition from Wikipedia states: “Wearable technologies are clothing and accessories incorporating computer and advanced electronic technologies. The designs often incorporate practical functions and features, but may also have a purely critical or aesthetic agenda.”
One of the beautiful things about these types of technologies is that they automatically complete tasks for you, sometimes without you having to open an app, or yell at your Siri. In fact, some devices are now predicting your routine behaviors such as driving patterns, pulling up directions based on your time and location. Pretty handy if you ask me. However the other side to the coin deals with wearables designed more so for the aesthetic then a function.
Remember the mood sweater you imagined yourself wearing on the red carpet earlier? Like the timeless (and if you think about it the original “mood technology”) piece of jewelry most 10 year old girls owned, the mood ring would change color based on the mood of the ring-bearer. San Francisco based company Sensoree applied that same concept to an LED infused sweater-top that alternates color with the person’s mood, blue for calm and red for angry to give you an example. While I would love to add one of these sweaters to my wardrobe, their amount of true functionality is minimal…but they look really cool!
So, where can you find some of these items here in ABQ?
While you won’t find things like the mood sweater or Google Glass in any local stores here, there are definitely a few business in Albuquerque who have jumped on the wearable bandwagon. Others are still catching up. As part of our research, we hit the streets to find out who was carrying what.
Beeps, located in the heart of Nob Hill, carries an RFID (Radio-frequency Identification) wallet designed to protect your credit card information from being pirated. Wait, what?? I’ll bet most of you didn’t know that some credit cards transmit your personal information via radio frequencies…true story.
After picking that up, make your way over to Birdland to pick up some snazzy illuminated smart gloves. These allow you to operate your smart phone while keeping your phalanges toasty.
Another great place to check out would be Sports Systems located on Montgomery and Louisiana. These guys carry several different GPS tracking watches, the Polar Loop, and also the Fit Bit. At the end of our shopping adventure, we learned that while some wearable products have trickled into Albuquerque, the big wave has yet to break.
Keep an eye out friends for smart fabrics, intelligent accessories and fashion-forward wearables. The fact is these types of high-tech/ high-fashion products will soon be available for you and I to purchase as we please. As we discovered, some of them are already out there. We have come a loong way from the step-tracker people…and it is only going to get better (or worse, whichever way you feel about technology, some of us aren’t as stoked as others).
Story by Fashion writer, Blake Elizabeth