A dress that can charge gadgets through solar energy, a hoodie that’s acoustically transparent and sports underwear that monitors every bit of your health. No, we’re not describing the wardrobe of a sci-fi movie. These are only a handful of “intelligent” clothes that are going to be part of our everyday life. They’re happening right now and they are much more discreet than Google Glass.
According to a Nielsen’s Connected Life Report survey from March, 48 percent of wearers are young — between 18 and 34 years old — and both men and women like the clothes. Despite the interest, however, fans are critical about the pricing. About 72 percent think the clothes are too expensive. So, while the market continues growing, the developers will have to create more readily accessible items.
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One of the most recent creations is a collection of dresses by Dutch fashion designer Pauline van Dongen that offer not only a sleek minimalist look, but also a chance to charge your device on it. Small solar panels embedded in the clothing capture sun rays and convert them into power. The devices must be connected via a small cable found in a little opening in the dress.
Fascinated by the potential of energy from the sun, van Dongen founded a startup called Wearable Solar.
“I always wanted to mix fashion and tech, but in a sustainable way,” she says. “They will help those who are heavy users of smartphones, devices whose batteries drop fast.”
More smart clothes
Get an earful
The Audio Engineer’s Hoodie is a top that promises to be the right “uniform” for audiophiles. “It’s such a simple technology arranged in a way that hasn’t been done before,” says designer Nic Pope.The official launch of the Audio Engineer’s Hoodie is slated for October. It will retail for $142.
Sportswear can be smart too
Sportswear is also cashing in on smart clothes. Since 2010, Sensoria has specialized in sports underwear that monitors your workout routine. All their items have e-textile sensors that can track activity and detect heart rate, force, pressure and calories. They can even identify injury-prone running styles. Prices range from $79 to $199.