There is a revolution happening all around us, yet many of us simply aren’t noticing it. It is called the “The Internet of Things” (IoT) and it is defined as a network of physical objects and devices that are embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data.
Gartner Research reports that 6.4 billion connected “things” will be in use in 2016, up 30% from 2015. The IoT sector will support total service spending of $235 billion in 2016, up 22% from 2015. Leading sectors include homes, automobiles, and consumer products.
You might be surprised to learn that the IoT revolution is now impacting the beauty, apparel, and jewelry business sectors.
L’Oreal is not a name typically associated with the International Consumer Electronics Show, but in early January, Guive Balooch, global VP of L’Oreal Technology Incubator, was in Las Vegas to unveil the beauty giant’s new foray into wearable tech: a temporary tattoo that measures sun exposure call “My UV Patch.”
It is a “stretchable sensor” with a diameter of one inch and thickness of 15 microns (think band-aide-like). My UV Patch contains flexible electronics that with the help of your smartphone, can tell you how much UV exposure you are subject to and at what times of day, with the help of your smartphone. “It’s a fashion statement” Mr. Balooch said in a NY Times interview.
As to why they started with a patch, “We know from our consumer insight research that UV exposure is a big issue for people,” Mr. Balooch said. “We really only wanted to make products that would disrupt the industry.”
After testing out the technology on ball boys at the 2014 US Open, Ralph Lauren began selling a PoloTech™ smart shirt for men that is embedded with sensors to track vital signs like breathing, heart rates, stress levels and calories burned.
The PoloTech shirt streams the information to an app that generates customized workout programs. From all this data, the shirt will essentially tell you how to exercise.
Fashion designers are also now exploring the potential of sensors and internet connectivity to create clothing and accessories that are often beautiful and intriguing as well as smart.
Lauren Bowker at The Unseen in the UK has created materials that change color and pattern in response to sensors, including a dress that “interprets human magnetism and emotions by reading brainwaves,” and a “4,000-piece gemstone headdress that reads brain activity, portraying distinctive color states of the individual’s thought process.” (shown at right)
The UK Guardian reported on the trend last year “Get yourself connected: Is the internet of things the future of fashion” including dresses that glow thanks to LEDs embedded in the fabric of a programmable shirt that features a video display, built in camera, microphone and speakers with the ability to show status updates, songs and photos.
There is more to connected accessories than smart watches. The fashion-forward Altruis from Kovert Designs is meant to remove people from the spell of tech and put them in a more meditative, connected to the here and now frame of mind. Unlike their better-known competitor Ringly, the Altruis collection is designed to limit the demands your phone places on you.
Instead of providing a constant technological tug and alerting you to activity across your social media accounts, it lets in only a select few who try to reach you with calls, texts, and email messages. Prices: $345-$430.
Ringly is the acknowledged category leader in “smart jewelry.” They create jewelry and accessories that connect to smartphones and provides customized notifications to on-the-go women. Ringly is also working with MasterCard to make their jewelry a mobile payment device. Imagine using your bracelet to buy a stunning gold necklace.
THE FUTURE OPPORTUNITY
At BLACK + GOLD we’re excited about the IoT wearable technology as it enters the beauty, apparel and jewelry business sectors. We think this convergence spells plenty of opportunity for both large and small businesses alike to test “disruptive ideas” that will evolve the function of their products