Wearables Won't Work as Fashion Statements
Another trouble spot to mass market adoption for high-end wearables such as Google Glass and Samsung Galaxy Gear is that they enter into the realm of fashion. They are fashion statements worn by the sort of characters in the hit television show "Big Bang Theory," which celebrates the geek subculture.
But fashion is fickle.
A wearable technology has a better chance at success if it isn't a slave to the fashion industry, which is entirely different than the tech industry. Fashion is better left to the Versaces and Guccis of the world. Wearable technology, on the other hand, should melt into everyday clothing, or at least not become fashionable.
By staying on the sidelines, or perhaps partnering with designers instead of leading fashion trends, wearable technology can have mass market appeal without having to change its look after every Hollywood movie blockbuster. By limiting functionality to solve a specific problem or two, wearable technology can also keep both power consumption and retail prices low.
The NFC ring fits this criteria nicely, but it's only one of many possibilities in affordable wearable gear. Newark element14 is currently running a competition for inventors to come up with ideas, and there's been no shortage of them. While most wearable watchers are stirred by the hype of a few high-end gadgets, the low-end of the market is buzzing, too.
"We're seeing a thousand flowers blooming," DeFeo says.
Here are three wearables in Newark element14's competition that stand out:
The "baby costume" will contain conductive fabric, an accelerometer and sound sensor. Light patterns will be triggered by the baby's movements and cries.
The "travel cap" will have an embedded compass and programmable GPS for navigation. Lights on the underside of the cap's brim will guide the user to a specific destination or display a light show when the destination is reached.
The "umbrella," which is still in development, will display a light show when, say, a visually impaired user nears his home. The picture shows the inventor holding orange paper over the color sensor to trigger the LED lights to flash the same shade of orange. This makes the umbrella sensitive to outside light and darkness and can match the color of the user's rain gear.
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