Smart clothes: Slow but steady growth for consumers and the enterprise
The demand for good garments with embedded computing gadgets is slowly rising, but it’s hindered from mass adoption on account of delicate sensors that can’t stand up to sweat, machine washing, and extremes in temperature.
An ABI Research report forecasts that the good clothes market will high 31 million items shipped yearly by 2022, growing from just below 5 million in 2017. The single strongest 12 months might be 2019, with growth ramping up till then, and slowing afterward, in line with Eric Abbruzzese, principal analyst at ABI Research.
Smart garments are clothes resembling shirts, pants, socks, and footwear with an embedded computing gadget that screens well being statistics resembling coronary heart charge, respiration, pores and skin temperature, and oxygen saturation.
Smart clothes has but to succeed in mass market attraction, but it is a rising business as a result of there are extremely focused client functions inside the sports activities, health, and wellness markets.
“There hasn’t been a great deal of activity just yet in the market; some early attempts by companies like Nike and Under Armour were moreso litmus tests for the market than full-scale product launches. The next few years will see a steadily increasing number of product releases, contributing to that strong 2019 growth. When you look at the incredibly broad product offerings for these companies, you can begin to see how ubiquitous smart clothing can become, assuming that the technology permeates throughout product lines over time,” Abbruzzese mentioned.
Some modern firms driving adoption embody Sensoria, OMsignal, and Hexoskin. Among bigger firms, Ralph Lauren created a wise polo shirt in 2015, and in 2016, Google and Levi’s debuted the Commuter Trucker Jacket for cyclists that hyperlinks cellular gadgets to Bluetooth.
SEE: Why Google’s good jacket might be a boon for commuters (TechRepublic)
What’s wanted for mass market adoption
“Before smart clothing reaches mass adoption, the technology behind its embedded sensors needs to improve,” mentioned Ryan Harbison, analysis analyst at ABI Research. “The sensors have to withstand conditions that other wearables don’t, such as body sweat, wash cycles, and extreme temperature variances. Vendors will have to solve this through innovative manufacturing and do so before consumers voice these concerns.”
Most good clothes merchandise at the moment characteristic removable sensors that should be eliminated earlier than washing. If they don’t seem to be detachable, they should be washed with the garment, and even the most superior sensors solely final for 60 to 70 washes earlier than needing to get replaced.
There aren’t sufficient use instances but to permit good clothes to succeed in mass market attraction, in line with Scott Jordan, CEO of SCOTTeVEST, which manufactures good vests and jackets and different merchandise.
“Right now, most form factors and benefits are just not strong enough for consumers to adopt smart clothing and use it on a daily basis. If consumers are not going to use the smart clothing regularly or the clothing doesn’t provide a drastic benefit vs. hardware-based alternatives, consumers won’t see the value or appeal,” Jordan mentioned.
“People don’t want technology decisions when buying clothing. Clothing, by its very nature, needs to be changed frequently. Another issue is designing clothing with enough battery power to last a full day’s use. We developed a patented Personal Area Network that allows users to route charging cables from pocket to pocket to keep devices at full charge, but to have wearable (and washable) smart clothing with this kind of battery power is just not feasible as of now,” Jordan mentioned.
Putting sensors into clothes represents a significant change in pondering for producers and consumers, and that is one in every of the cause for gradual adoption charges.
Davide Vigano, co-founder and CEO of Sensoria, mentioned, “Brands are just now realizing that with a platform approach it is technically and economically feasible to get data from their apparel and footwear products. Smart clothing and biometric body sensors can be considered the ultimate wearables and are revolutionizing traditional industries: apparel, textiles, and footwear. The impact of this transformation cannot be underestimated, since it is equivalent to the industrial revolution, which was the last transformative event for the industries in question.”
Tech giants and good clothes
Currently, Google and Intel are in the good clothes market, with Google’s partnership with Levi’s to create the Commuter Trucker Jacket, and Intel’s good efficiency shirts. At CES 2016, Samsung debuted a pattern line of good garments that included a swimsuit and belt, but it was by no means produced for retail sale.
More giant tech firms will ultimately enter the market, but there is not any particular timeline when this would possibly happen.
“If smart clothing follows a similar trend to smart watches, then we will see some major tech vendors starting to launch products very soon (CES 2018 as an early example). The differences between clothing and watches are notable though, and so it is not likely to be a 1:1 correlation with the watch market. Different manufacturing requirements, component vendors, and general brand/marketing messages could present obstacles for the big tech companies. We are more likely to see the likes of Under Armour, Nike, Adidas, etc. continue to push into the market with a wider range of products over the next few years, again with CES 2018 as a likely near-term showcase of the trend of the market,” Abbruzzese mentioned.
Smart clothes in the enterprise
“Worker safety and monitoring will always be the driving force for enterprise smart clothing. There is the secondary benefit of potential worker efficiency increase from certain device types, but for the most part any worker efficiency improvement will stem from products like smart glasses and smartwatches, while worker safety will be predominant for clothing for monitoring vitals, location, environmental dangers, etc.,” Abbruzzese mentioned.
Johnson mentioned, “This is where I truly see the market going. Applications for worker safety, military uses, and other industry-specific use cases (medical, labor, etc.). The value here is immediately apparent and much easier to implement than trying to make our clothing do everything a smartphone or tablet can do for average consumers. This is why Google Glass is having a resurgence in the enterprise space: clear use cases and an easy to implement form factor.”
There’s loads of alternative for good clothes in the enterprise. “We’ve been involved in work safety research for many years. The first scientific results have been published in 2016, and enterprises are now becoming aware of smart clothing’s potential to improve training and safety,” mentioned Pierre-Alexandre Fournier, co-founder and CEO of Hexoskin.
The high three takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- The good clothes market will high 31 million items shipped yearly by 2022, growing from just below 5 million in 2017.
- Smart clothes has but to succeed in mass market attraction, but it is a rising business due to client functions inside the sports activities, health, and wellness markets.
- There are enterprise functions for good clothes with regard to employee security and monitoring.