Will Smart Clothes Cannibalize the Market of Smartwatch?

More than smartwatches, smart clothes are rocking the wear arena. The smartclothes help the professional athlete to better their game by tracking performance in aspect of power, fatigue and breathing volume. For instance, we have Hexoskin smart shirt that tracks the time when an athlete starts giving in to fatigue or when he was at his best during the entire game. The entire metrics is shown on compatible iPhone and Android smartphone.

smart cloths

A research has found that only 1.6% of Brits own a smartwatch and smartwatches make only 11% of wearable market. While men jumped on the idea of connected clothing, women stick to the usual and that is, connected jewellery. The research also emphasizes that the smart clothes will be sold more than the wearable fitness trackers by the end of 2016.

As companies try to bring in more and more fitness-focused wristbands, the purchasing decision of customers is based on one question, the benefit. And the benefit part of smart clothing has struck the customers. Be it innerwear, belt or t-shirt, the clothing is by far the most popular and liked wearable category that has been able to attract even the fence-sitters.

Where are we in the smart clothing?

We have read about bra that changes colors or bra, which changes its shape in accordance with the breasts’ movements. The wearable dresses that push your button for sex is also catching the fancy of many. The realm of wearable smart clothing is so intriguing that the likes of Lady Gaga ad Ralph Lauren has also jumped in it. While Lady Gaga has tied up with the Studio XO to bring futuristic fashion for the year 2020 that mixes technology and fashion, Lauren has launched the Polo Tech smartshirt for the professional tennis players. The smartshirt debuted in August, this year at the U.S. Open. It tracks heart rate and breathing via Bluetooth connectivity. This plays a very important role as now we can omit those chest straps and other fitness devices. With the help of technology integrated into the clothes, sportsman can track their performance as well as health in real-time. These are also the reliable source of information as clothes stay close to the body and so are the sensors that track the performance.

Similarly, we have pants that can transform you into a super hero. The Soft Exosuit is developed by researchers at the Harvard University and helps people who need a little energy or push to get going. This soft suit reduces injury risk for soldiers when they carry heavy loads or give them energy when they have to cover unreasonable distances on foot. The suit provides them with the endurance and energy when it is needed the most.

Why smartwatches are lagging behind?

The reason why smart clothing is preferred over smartwear could be because of price. Usually, smartwatches from the Tier A companies are priced at premium and after a while, when the flaunt-it-off phase is over, the users seem to get over it and do not find any real benefit attached to it except for the time-telling that can be done by simply glancing at the mobile or via traditional watches too. Though, with the advent of the likes of Samsung Gear S and rumored ASUS ZenWatch 2 offering independent calling function, we can still hope the smartwear wrist devices to recover from the back foot.

The other thing that plagues smartwatches is abandonment of the users. The research done by Ipsos Mori has revealed that the awareness regarding smartwatches has increased by 44% as compared to the year 2012 while most of the people who participated in the research do not feel the need of it and about a third of the U.S. users will shun their devices within the six months of purchase.

Conclusion:

This is not to write the market of smartwatches entirely off, though. The launch of Apple Watch is just about to happen anytime in the next year and traditional companies like Fossil and Casio are also planning to launch ‘connected’ watches. The Android wear watches may also see a paradigm shift in design as well as functionality. May be the white space between a wristband and smartwatch may continue to blur to produce a watch-band that rocks the both worlds? All in all, we can hope that the segment of smartwatches will gain momentum and see an increase in the shipment from about 10 million to 40 million in the coming year and 60 million in the year 2016 but not without taking smart clothes hand-in-hand in this journey of wearables.

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An MBA, a brand strategist and writer, Vinisha is hooked to technology. Trying to keep pace with ever-changing tech world, she keeps on writing to understand and analyze it from a user's perspective. A hardcore movie buff and 'Nirvana' fan, she can be reached @vinisha_nirmal

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