What's next for wearable tech? The spotlight has been shining heavily on Google Glass and smartwatches, but the latest innovations in wearables are pushing new devices in the spotlight. In fact, it seems the futuristic gadgets won't be confined to just faces and wrists. When fashion and technology collide, wardrobes get a whole lot smarter. This is a roundup of smart clothing that proves tech can be fashionable, too.
Athos Athletic Apparel
Move over, Lululemon. This smart clothing uses the latest technology to measure the body's metrics including muscle output, heart rate and breathing rate. The device is so small, it fits in the palm of your hand. Instead, though, the makers of Athos wear incorporated the tiny hardware into high-end athletic apparel (and they're actually quite stylish). The hardware gives wearers real-time data, feedback, coaching and workout summaries. The nylon/spandex athletic clothing itself costs $99 per article (shirt & capris). The Core Module, which collects the data and attaches to the garments, totals at $199. Athos will begin shipping Summer 2014, but you can pre-order online now.
Too much, or toupee? Sony is reportedly looking to design a SmartWig, a hairpiece that will conceal advanced electronics. The necessity of such a hairy contraption is still questionable, but the idea is certainly original. The developers of Sony's SmartWig said that the goal of the device "is to achieve both natural and practical wearable devices," shifting the focus from function to style. The patent revealed that the device features a sensor, a CPU, a communications interface to a compatible computer and a wig. Certain functions of the high-tech hairpiece include navigating surroundings, monitoring health and giving neurofeedback. The whole point of the falsie is to conceal the gadgets, which will likely spark a technopanic (see: bar bans Google Glass). Will we now have to question whether every bad toupee is a disguise not for baldness, but for tiny cameras? It's TBD. Sony representatives have yet to issue any plans for commercializing the SmartWig. Still, it's further proof that wearable tech is pushing the boundaries.
Wearable Solar is another smart clothing idea that shows that outfits aren't just for wearing. This particular wardrobe is also made for charging. Wearable Solar is a potential clothing line that integrates solar panels into get-ups for charging personal electronic devices. This brainchild came from an interdisciplinary mix of people - a creative agency representative, fashion designer, solar panel specialist and university students. The two prototypes include a dress and a coat, which include solar cells combined with wool and leather. The apparel aesthetic is somewhat of a toned down avant-garde look, but definitely a style likely to spark interest in some stylites.
Rainbow Winters Color-Changing Dresses
Fashion chameleons, rejoice. Now you can actually transform your look without the hassles of a wardrobe change. Rainbow Winters pieces seamlessly blend emerging technologies with high-fashion. The clothes use interactive fabrics which change colors and patterns in response to sound, sunlight, water and stretch. For example, the "Rainforest" dress changes from black-and-white to colorful when exposed to sunlight and water. Designer Amy Winters makes custom show-pieces for the likes of music videos, concerts, festivals, award ceremonies, etc.
"My pieces are made for 'performers' and performances to express the aesthetic and emotive capabilities of technology. The core idea is unique: dramatic garments that react to changes in environment. The clothes become technological works of art in themselves, constantly transforming," Winters told Digital Style Digest.
Gesture-Controlled Iron Man Helmet
This wearable tech device is less for the fashionista, and more for the aspiring superhero. For the Tony Stark enthusiast, a real-life Iron Man helmet has been created by a seriously dedicated fan. Using 3D printing technology and other high-tech rigs, this fully functioning helmet turns on and off via a head nod. If you don't have the equipment or tech-savvy to assemble your own Iron Man helmet, the creator will make one for you for $150.
Smart clothing is clearly the future of wearable tech. Whether it's fancy, high-tech headgear or futuristic apparel, fashion is taking an ultramodern turn.