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Wearable Technology

Image source: FitBit
Photography by Edgar Meritano
Image Source: Jean Baptiste Paris via Flickr

Wearable Technology – either you hate it or you love it!

It’s made significant progress in 2015, but it still has a long way to go.

Have we reached peak wearable technology? According to Mashable, wearable smartwatches still have a way to go before it can replace analogue wristwatches. Chief Industry analyst, Marcel Cohen, at the NPD group believes that even though fashion still has to catch up, 2015 was the year consumers became savvier and believers of wearable technology.

“What we’re seeing in fashion is that no one wants to get behind now that fashion technology is so hot,” Cohen said in an interview with Mashable. “You don’t want to be second in the technology world, which is why we’re seeing gimmicks more than technology”

Consumers want form, function and style when they want to spend money on an investment piece but there is little room within the wearable market, dominated by fitness trackers and smartwatches, for consumers to be able to find items that fit their needs. Smartwatches still look traditionally masculine, with smartwatches targeted at women falling within typical “gender-ascribed” marketing gimmicks. Quite simply smartwatches promise much but nothing specific.

Compared to fitness trackers, smartwatches are failing to capture the female demographic because they are simply over complicated, whereas fitness trackers (which are popular in the female demographic as well) embrace simplicity. Fitbit CEO James Park, in an interview with The Verge, explained that the most common reason for women not wanting to buy a smartwatch is that “they’re very overwhelming; they do too much.”

If smartwatches embraced simplicity and was able to enhance the wearer’s ability to express their personal identity, then smart watches might just have a shot of capturing the female market. Yet this isn’t to say that the wearable technology market is just about smartwatches and fitness trackers. Over the past few years, fashion has started to embrace wearable technology.

OMSignal, the brand behind Ralph Lauren’s PoloTech shirt, recently brought out the OMBra, which aims combines fitness tracking with sports bra.

“If you look at the wearable market since the beginning, it really started with activity trackers, and women were driving that adoption.” OMSignal co-founder and CEO Stephane Marceau said in a Forbes interview.

“Right now it’s about sport, the future is about wellness, but over time it’s about monitoring and preventing heart failure and other health issues. The future of wearable technology is about the disruption of the clothing industry, but its impact on healthcare will be even larger.”

It isn’t just sport companies embracing wearable technology, it’s also airline companies. Recently Easyjet partnered with CuteCircuit to update their uniform. CuteCircuit is internationally well-known with their fashion lines, with Katy Perry wearing CuteCircuit’s clothes in her appearance at American Idol in 2011. Using LED light patterns, or tweets scrolling across bags or mood-coloured skirts, CuteCircuit marries technology and fashion in a symbiotic manner.

Love it or hate it, the wearable technology market is growing and we’ll see leaps and bounds made over the next few years.

Words by Sophia van Gent