It’s no secret that users haven’t been particularly enamoured with the aesthetics of smartwatches so far. Whilst trying to deliver as much functionality as possible, it seems that tech giants have scrimped on style, and this is reflected in sales to date. Outside the hardcore smartwatch fanbase, there hasn’t been a huge amount of general interest.
Simultaneously, the fashion industry is seeing a similar downturn. In 2014, Britons spent £4.3 billion on designer fashion, but £4.5 billion on smartphones. Hot on the heels of these figures, swathes of big name fashion brands flocked to the annual CES technology show in Las Vegas. Amongst the usual techno-hipster crowd, reps from leading fashion houses were in abundance, snapping photos and checking out the new developments in wearable tech.
Emergent fashion designers and entrepreneurs have picked up the scent, and there are several out there who are working on designs that integrate tech. From sports tops that glow when you run, to solar powered, tech charging jackets and kidswear that warns you when your child isn’t getting enough exercise, the possibilities are endless. Google has also just announced partnership with Levi’s for a range of clothing that integrates computing fibres into the fabric.
Maybe we’re not all quite ready for smart clothing just yet, but time will tell. In the meantime, the great tech minds behind top smartwatches are hearing the consumer cries for more stylish wearables.
Though we are big fans of the Sony range of smartwatches, the cream of the crop are the smartwatches that are timepieces first, and smartwatches second. We are particularly fond of the Asus Zenwatch for its beauty and elegance. Then there’s the Michael Bastian Chronowing, a seriously sexy watch in its own right. It just happens to also display notifications, sports and weather, control your music, switch timezones automatically, and one charge lasts about a week. The Moto 360 runs a close second, with a dual-personality backlit LCD display that combines smart features with a classic analogue digital face. It includes optical heart rate monitoring, an integrated pedometer and the Moto Body fitness platform. That’s in addition to the usual notifications we expect from a smartwatch.
Treading the line between wearable tech and style, there are a few contenders that deviate from the smartwatch formula, into smart wearables that put fashion first.
Take the Rebecca Minkoff Notification Bracelet, which keeps it simple by just gently vibrating to let you know you’ve received a call or text from one of your favourite contacts. Then there are the smart rings.
Ringly is perhaps one of the leaders in this area, again just notifying you when you need to look at your phone. Available in emerald, quartz, sapphire or moonstone, Ringly offers a seriously pretty option in a market dominated by more masculine aesthetics. Pretty as they are, though, the ‘smartness’ of these wearables is pretty basic.
For a more ‘smart’ smart ring, there’s the descriptively named ‘Ring’ by Logbar Inc. which allows you to customise up to 23 gestures using its accompanying mobile app, from checking the weather or composing a tweet, to interacting with your home appliances. The MOTA SmartRing is the one that has garnered perhaps the most attention, though. Paired with either Android or iOS, the MOTA Smartring delivers notifications and updates on a tiny screen. However, as well as being a bit bulky to wear, its necessity is somewhat questionable.
It’s nice to know that there are options out there for those of us who like the idea of a smartwatch but don’t want to look like an extra from Star Trek. It’s also exciting to imagine where the technology is set to take us next. Who knows, we could all be wearing iHoodies or Android-powered underpants in the next few years!