Like most people I carry my mobile phone around with me from the moment I leave my house in the morning to the moment I go to bed at night. Not just to make and receive phone calls of course, but to check emails text, twitter, facebook, web etc. My reliance on being connected 100% of the time has got to a stage where if I forget my phone or it runs out of battery, there are moments of panic! What if my car breaks down? what if someone needs to get hold of me?
Funny really because when you look at it I’ve managed most of my life without the umbilical connectivity to internet and phone but in such a short time space these ‘essentials’ have become a huge part of our lives.
It was only a matter of time before the tech gadgetry that permeates every facet of our lives found its way into clothing. Clothing after all is something we have with us (most of us that is 😉 from morning until night.
The ease in which mobile connectivity became essential to everyone seems to have so far failed to integrate into our day to day clothing.
Perhaps it is how these are perceived, as gimmicks or something that is neither fish nor foul – Not purely tech or purely fashion. Most ideas that I’ve read about that have been developed for integrating technology into apparel have a niche appeal or else are short lived. They just don’t seem to catch on.
Another problem to overcome is the fact that for a specific piece of technology, a specific garment must be worn, which – for something like a mobile-phone coat for the sake of argument, becomes useless in the middle of a hot summer! The garment fails to appeal if there is a dichotomy which exists between the requirement of the garment and the requirement of the technology.
So where am I going with this? I think that rather than trying to force the go-go-gadget geek wear, the product designer and apparel designer need to think alongside each other – Technology that fits in with apparel though doesn’t rely on it and vice versa. The technology really needs to add value to the garment rather than being the sole reason for wearing it.
Garments for a specific task, such as protective gear for the fire service for example could include a secondary technology based functionality that measures the wearers heart rate and blood oxygen level – Not essential for the core function, but provided the integration into the garment is executed well and it doesn’t compromise the main function, it does provide a great added value.
Another good example is in Apples ipod nano that will plug into trainers to be used as a pedometer if wished, but the ownership or use of those specific trainers do not govern its primary usage as a music player.
I’m sure the market for secondary integration in ways like this will be explored and exploited in the very near future and perhaps we will even be pushed to look at the tech integration functions of our clothes as well as their primary function before buying them if the idea becomes more commonplace.