Wearables are hot right now, but where are they really at? How far are we in bringing the ideas to market and just what is that market?
Stefan: We don’t use the term. We talk about what people are doing and how we can use technology to help them do it better.
Amanda wants them to be defined as any device that is body centric, not just strapping a gadget to the wrist.
Sandra: Wearables stand for something you will want to wear that has technology incorporated. It’s about having technology that adds meaningful value.
What happened with the fuel band?
Stefan: Nike thinks there is a better way to motivate people. There had to be a better way than a calorie to measure effort. So they created the fuel band as a simple way to motivate people. But it was never about the product, it was the experience that the product helped deliver which was to be more motivated.
Nike is now more committed to digital than ever before and they are now doing this through partnerships.
Sandra: Partnerships are key. The magic is going to happen when you have a partner that understands scale and a brand that understands lifestyle.
Intel is good at engineering but they know they aren’t designers and aren’t a fashion house. So they started to look at who is. They are now working together with Opening Ceremony as long term partners.
What happens next? Are we going to reach the point that tech is really a part of apparel?
Stefan: The tech is there. Smart fibers, conductive fibers, apparel that can sense the body in motion is there. Right now it’s a bit clunky, but it is there. The big shift will come when the problem of significance is solved.
How do we take that sensing input and make it tell you something meaningful, that becomes the pivotal issue.
Amanda: The key is pushing materials forward and solving the problems around power and energy. As soon as we have the ability to make batteries transparent and non-existent then that’s a mental shift.
What makes a product exciting?
Stefan: When you can take a specific problem and create a solution that everyone wants to have then you have got something.
Sandra: Things are getting smaller so the natural progression right now is the wrist. It’s going to be accessories you can wear. And then ones that can be embedded in the body. As far as what comes after the wrists, the consumers are going to tell us.
Stefan: The definition of smart can takes tons of different shapes. At the end of the day we will have connected products, but the computing might take place somewhere else. Smarts doesn’t have to mean measuring.
Amanda: We are at a strange point ethically. What are we going to do to alleviate pain, make people move faster.
There is a divide between tech companies and design. Why haven’t kids from design schools been brought in to work on wearables. Why did it take so long to get designers on the projects?
Sandra: We didn’t just jump on the bandwagon. We actually conduct salons with designers and engineers and business.
Amanda: We need to look at the state of education. Fashion education is still very analog. Designers coming out of school don’t see tech as part of their world. They aren’t motivated to get there. Tech companies are starting to reach out to the fashion companies but it isn’t yet happening in the other direction.
Should there be more give and take between FIT and MIT?
Amanda. Yes, it’s starting to happen
Most of the wearables are one model. Fashion is about Identity. How do you bridge that gap?
Stefan: We have added the metalux collection. That creates a different interest with a different audience. You need to address people’s sense of style.
Amanda: As soon as we get more fashion companies involved and be part of the production process.
Sandra: We enable ecosystems. We want to build core technology that any designer can source from Intel.
Pick one wearable that is coming out next that is not a wristband
Stefan: There is more work to be done on the wrist before it goes anywhere else.
Amanda: No one has addressed the issue around hearing and audio. No one has touched the space between headphones and hearing aides.
Sandra: Something that looks fashionable, something that is beautiful that I want to wear.