Wearable Technology Show: Digital narcissism – health aesthetics

March 28, 2014
3 min read
Goldeni from Kopin
Misfit poster

In the final part of a week long series of blog posts, Senior Trends Consultant Richard Cope reports back from the inaugural Wearable Technology Show at London’s Olympia, examining the devices on show and the recurrent themes and human needs that bind them.

What we wear is about signalling who we are and devices can communicate whether we are sporty, wealthy, intelligent or stylish. Wearables will only work if they look good and we want to be seen with them and this is the potential problem for Google Glass: does it make us look rich, geeky, cool or intrusive?

Even in the activity monitoring sector, we’ve seen brands seek to stand out in the crowd through image and aesthetic. Misfit Wearables founder Sonny Vu speaks of the brand’s Shine device as an “elegant activity monitor” and its campaigns are unashamedly aimed at bringing some style leadership and glamour in to the sector.

Goldeni from Kopin
Kiroco

Kiroco meanwhile turns wearables in to ‘encryption key’ jewellery with the avowed emotional aim of ‘making you smile’. Their range of chains and pendants are securely linked to just two phone numbers which can read messages and images sent to and stored on them, in a modern upgrade of the ‘photo in a locket’ concept.
Communication, signalling and fun are at the heart of Cute Circuit’s smart fashion concepts, which were given an onstage demonstration at the Wearable Tech Show. Designers Francesca Rosella and Ryan Gentz have dreamed up a dazzling range of truly ‘smart clothes’ over the years which appeal to our giddy sense of what ‘wearable tech’ really might mean in a ‘down-the-disco’ sci-fi sense.

Goldeni from Kopin
Cutecircuit

Their pairs of ‘Hug Shirts’ enabled people to squeeze and warm each other from a distance, their ‘M-Dress’ contained a SIM card allowing you to ‘call it up so it rings’ and their ‘Galaxy Dress’ was embroidered with 24,000 micro LEDs so that it could display images. Celebrity patrons like U2, Katy Perry and Nicole Scherzinger have lent their creations aspirational glamour and their concepts – from T-shirt that connect to the Internet, dresses that display Tweets and jackets that show emotions – suggest a future with no limits.

Whilst these garments might be beyond the budgets of the consumer mainstream, they are true to the traditions that we started with – namely what we wear on our sleeves (from clothes to watches) should help us communicate and make us look good. In the future, the best, most successful wearables will do both, because as Rosella asserts, “our garments are going to become our second skin to allow us to communicate”.

If you would like to know what these trends – and others – mean for your business please contact Richard to discuss our trend presentation, project and facilitation services. E-mail: rcope@mintel.com; Twitter @Richard_Mintel

Richard Cope
Richard Cope

Richard is a Senior Trends Consultant, bringing the latest consumer trends to Mintel clients through bespoke presentations and represents Mintel at global conferences.

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