With smart watches and fitness bands decorating the arms of people all around us, smart wearables are starting to become commonplace. But there’s much more to smart wearables than wrist accessories. While FitBits and Apple Watches are no longer jaw-dropping to anyone, most people aren’t even aware of the smart clothing that is already on the market, or the smart clothing that will be on the market in the very near future.
Although not as widespread as smart wearables for your wrists, smart clothing is already being developed by a number of different clothing retailers. For now, most of these smart garments come from athletic clothing companies, allowing wearers to monitor heart rates, distances, and burned calories while exercising. Like Fitbits and other healthy lifestyle devices, these clothing items connect to smartphone apps that give you further analysis of your health, and tips to make improvements for the future.
Likewise, development is already underway for new smart clothing for everyday wear. Tommy Hilfiger offers solar panel jackets for men and women that provide enough energy to charge an entire phone’s battery capacity. Like a Glove is a start-up that has made smart garments that measure your size in seconds, connecting your measurements through Bluetooth to an app, allowing you to instantly know your sizes for online shopping. Google has recently announced a partnership with Levi's to make clothing interactive.
Once these clothing items become more accessible, smart clothing will change the way we interact with smart technology.
While a number of clothing retailers are already developing smart clothing, the prices have not yet come down far enough for the average person to purchase the few items that are already on the market. According to this article by The Street, researchers have found that consumers are not willing to spend more than $121 for smart gloves, yet they currently sell for at least $200. Likewise, smart shirts are typically selling for $199 when they should be marketed around $111 (what customers are willing to pay). Although these clothing items have not yet become mainstream, it is only a matter of time before they will be.
As development moves further, prices will come down, and these items will become as common as smartphones.
While the price of smart clothing may be delaying its widespread usage, these delays may also be buying companies more time to create better security for smart clothing items. With each new technological advance, security becomes more complex, and manufacturers have the responsibility to secure their technologies for their consumers. More technology means more opportunities for hacking, and security should always be a priority for
As the Internet of Things adopts more things, security experts face the problem of securing these devices after the infrastructure has already been designed. Instead of incorporating security after the product has already been created, forward-thinking manufacturers will incorporate encryption and authentication from the beginning of the product design. When security is part of the initial infrastructure, it has a much higher capacity to protect and safeguard against hacks.
Making clothing smart requires more than just adding technology, it requires high-quality security as well.