In recent months, the fashion industry and the technology industry have been coming together to create products that are both stylish and innovative. Breakthrough engineering has allowed products such as the smartwatch and fitness bracelets become a part of our daily lives. However, in order for wearable technology to be wearable, people have to want to wear it, and have a need for it. This is where the fashion industry steps in, and we’re increasingly seeing partnerships between technology companies, like Intel and Google, with traditional fashion and lifestyle vendors like Tag Heuer. The rest is wearable technology in disguise – devices which look like normal offerings yet hidden within them is a raft of awesome smart-tech. This really is James Bond stuff, so to celebrate the recent arrival of the latest Bond Movie, Spectre, we dived into the must have disguised wearables this holiday season.
The mixture of fashion and function is crucial to developing wearable tech. Companies such as Apple, Android, Google, Fitbit, Fossil, Samsung, and others are constantly competing for the top spots in wearable technology. Technology companies such as these have been partnering with brand names in the fashion industry to offer sleek designs to their already brilliantly engineered products. We recently saw the example of Fossil buying Misfit, a company who have specialised in making some funkily designed wearables for $260m. The aim is to make the most fashionable wearable yet. You see the direction that this is all going in?
The Apple Watch has been dominating the market with its cutting-edge operating system and stylish bands. Fitbit has sold millions of products – they remain the best selling smart-tech manufacturer, and their revenues are growing quickly– with its simple, yet complex designs. Fitbit now has a extensive range of devices (see our Fitbit buying guide here) across the lifestyle and fitness space, and are competing head on with a range of other specialized companies, as well as fashion brands like Fossil and historic ‘big’ manufacturers lie Asus. Engineers are constantly developing new technologies, and stylists are continually creating innovative designs.
By combining fashion with function, consumers’ lives are made simpler, while keeping up with the latest fashion trends. Wearable technology is gradually becoming an industry of its own as the demand for its products grows. We have compiled a list of 5 top of the market products that have achieved close to the perfect blend of fashion and function.
Apple – Apple Watch
Apple Products, the Apple Watch included, have always been at the peak of the technology market because they have always been expertly designed, and expertly engineered. The rebirth of Apple under the genius of their late CEO and co-founder, Steve Jobs, was largely down to the technology companies clever positioning as a brand. Largely for this reason we have seen them deliver huge success in a space just by virtue of ‘being Apple’. Take the tablet computer – it was an unheralded pre-existing device before they launched the iPad – at a time when they were perhaps at the peak of their powers – and overnight they made a genre. Many expected their much rumoured Watch to have a similar affect on the nascent but quickly emerging smartwatch space.
As of late 2015, it is fair to say that the Apple Watch, which was pre-ordered an overwhelming amount of times before it was ever released in stores, is not Apple’s best product, yet. The ‘yet’ however indicates our belief that this could change, perhaps as early as the upcoming Apple Watch 2.
Despite its shortcomings, we felt compelled to include it in our list of awesome disguised wearable tech. The Apple Watch – especially the quite ludicrous gold one pictured – looks like a watch, feels like a watch, but does so much more than a regular watch. For starters, the Apple Watch has a square watch face, differentiating it from most smart watches, which are circular. Second, Apple has specifically created its own line of bands, in order to offer more exclusivity with the watch.
Furthermore, the Apple Watch comes in 4 different versions: the Hermes, Sport, Edition, and the standard Apple Watch. Apple has designed a product that is independent, but has options; Simple, but sophisticated. The watch’s unique operating system exceeds any expectations users may have had, before exploring its dozens of features. The Apple Watch is expertly designed and exquisitely made, offering the perfect blend of fashion with function.
Its a sophisticated and yet quietly disguised smartwatch – and one that your friends need not know is actually smart tech at all.
TITIN – Inner 14-Pocket Shirt
Unlike the Apple Watch, the TITIN Inner Pocket Shirt can’t tell the time or surf the Internet, but the engineering, design, and craftsmanship put into building the product is unparalleled. The TITIN shirt is a weighted, compression shirt, used for rehabilitation and athletic training. Its a piece of disguised smart tech which you’ll wear under your normal training kit – but once you unleash it, you’ll get a raft of amazing new data.
The ‘inner pocket’ 14-pocket, compression shirt holds 5KG of gel inserts, which can be warmed or cooled to boost muscle therapy. The very simple design is stylish, functional, and virtually indestructible. Although the 14-Inner pocket shirt is not TITIN’s only design, it is by far the best, and one of our favourites.
We thoroughly expect this type of technology to explode over the coming years. Its increasingly being used by professional sports teams in their training environments, and it can;t be long before such smart tech is used in real game environments – perhaps providing a whole new world of new data streams which the smarter TV broadcasters will find some novel use cases for.
Whether its for measuring peak performance in real time, or aiding recovery – this sort of tech has a big future. What’s more – nobody needs to know that you’re using it.
Android Wear – LG Watch Urbane Luxe
Check out the discrete beauty of this LG smartwatch. Much like the aforementioned Tag watch, this is aprt of a new breed of smartwatch which doesn’t want to look like one.
“This blending of craftsmanship and technology is a natural evolution of the smart watch, which is becoming more of a lifestyle accessory than a piece of hardware,” – Chris Yie (VP & Head of Marketing Communications for LG)
The Android Wear smart watch, the LG Urbane Luxe, is a limited Edition, luxury watch. By far, one of Android Wear’s most stylish pieces, the Urbane is selling for $1,200 – meaning it faces off head to head against the Tag Heuer Connected. Designed with an alligator-leather band and a 23-karat gold watch face, the LG smart watch is far from “just another watch.” Equipped with the latest Android Wear update, the watch features Bluetooth and WIFI connectivity, music playback, access to various other applications, and more. The P-OLED screen allows for a crystal-clear view of the many on-screen functions. The regular Urbane smart watch is already one of Android Wear’s most stylish and functional products, but the Luxe took fashion a step further.
Jawbone – Jawbone UP2
The Jawbone UP2 is smart-fitness monitor that doesn’t really look any thing for than a bangle or bracelet. The very simplistic design functions as a step-counter, sleep monitor, and a stopwatch. Although, not as sophisticated or feature-heavy as the Apple Watch, the Jawbone UP2 is accurate, and performs the functions most needed my people simple trying to stay in good health. The step-counter, which also monitors the amount of calories burned, is easier to use.
Vinaya – Altrius
People have been wearing jewellery for thousands of years. Vinaya, the company formally known as Kovert Designs, has released a product flashy enough to pass as jewellery, but smart enough to make our list of disguised smart tech. It contains the perfect amount of technology but you’d never have guessed by looking at it. The smart stone comes in the form of a necklace, bracelet, and ring, and connects to your smart phone via Bluetooth. It doesn’t do nearly as much as a smart watch, in fact, the only thing it does is notify users when they receive important messages. When priority messages are received, Altius vibrates. So, instead of reaching for your phone every so often, you can set it to notify you, through a necklace, only when important things come up. But, it is for you to decide what is important and what is not. The very simplistic tech perfectly mixes fashion and function. People want to wear it, and it does something more than look good.
There are hundreds of wearable tech products that encapsulate the prefect blend of fashion and function. We have only listed 5 of the products we find to be “top-of-the-line.” However, newer, more upgraded and sophisticated products are coming to market on a consistent basis. Smart watches are all trying to incorporate more features and functions, extend battery-life from more than a day or two, and dream-up new designs.
Clothing products are constantly seeking to develop new fabrics to combat certain weather conditions, or provide for more effective exercises. And, multiple other fashion and technology companies are working together, trying to develop new ways of improving and innovating. For example, Google’s recent “test study” of Google Glass proves that companies are constantly working on new projects to incorporate technological features into wearable fashion accessories. Technology, whether it be programming or engineering, is at the core of all development. As time progresses and technology improves, so does everything else.