Innovations in wearable tech are going from strength to strength. Words by Sophia Charalambous.

 

Wearable tech began in 1500 when German inventor Peter Henlein created small watches worn as necklaces. Today, wearable technology involves fusing tech with fashion.

Smart electronic devices are incorporated into clothing or worn as implants or accessories.

The breakthrough could be attributed to Sony Ericsson and the London College of Fashion. They teamed up in 2009 to create a cocktail dress with Bluetooth technology, which lit up when a call was received.

Next to cause a stir was Google Glass in 2014. These glasses could take photographs, record videos and even call up Google searches. But consumers were not impressed.

So textile-led tech ran cold for a number of years.

 

Tech inside clothes

Cue the new Levi’s Trucker and Sherpa Trucker jacket with Jacquard by Google, recently released in men’s and women’s styles for autumn/winter 2019.

Tech is built into the fabric, while software upgrades allow the piece to update itself over time.

Wearers can access the functions via gestures on the cuff conducted through Jacquard Tag. Features include navigation, ride share apps, weather, traffic reports, messaging and music.

Paul Dillinger, VP Global Product Innovation, says: “Two years after we first launched Jacquard, the technology has become smaller and more discreet, more affordable and more useful.

“But the premise and purpose remain the same. You can keep your phone in your pocket and your eyes on the world around you, staying connected without being distracted.”

 

Making the future fashionable

With the Trucker priced at £140 and the Sherpa at £160, these items are accessible and may tempt consumers to make the move to wearable tech.

This year also brought us Bose Frames, featuring the world’s first audio augmented reality platform.

Combining sunglasses and the performance of wireless headphones, they feature the smallest, thinnest Bose system to stream music and information, make calls and access virtual assistants.

Mehul Trivedi, director of Bose Frames, says: “Frames are both magical and practical.

“With the new lens options, they’re more versatile premium sunglasses. But when you turn them on, they function like headphones, instantly connecting to your phone, contacts, the web, and all its audible content.”

Designers in the luxury market are hoping to take wearable tech to the next level, such as Yves Saint Laurent’s Cit-E backpack. This uses Jacquard technology to control your phone with four gestures on the strap.

 

Luxury range

Then there is The Unseen, a luxury range of accessories, made with five reactive inks that change colour in response to the environment.

The collection, launched in Selfridges Items, includes a scarf, wallet, phone case, and leather backpack.

The number of brands beginning to see the value of wearable tech is increasing.

In America, Wearable X has just produced smart yoga pants, which use pulses to correct posture.

The future of wearable tech remains to be seen. But the winning combination looks to be a partnership between industry giants collaborating to make the future fashionable.