CONNECTED CLOTHING

8th of September, 2020

A lot has been written about the health pandemic issues we currently face. Did it come from bats? Have the US riots increased the spread of the disease and if so by how much. Will the Australian states open their borders? Do we have enough ventilators and the all-important discussion about a vaccine?   

However, the discussion around should you or should you not download the COVIDSafe App and how many citizens need to download the App I have found really interesting from several viewpoints. 

What fascinated me was the privacy concern; how so many citizens willingly provide endless personal information to the likes of Google, Amazon and the BIGGEST data collector of them all Facebook and yet we are frightened to allow any information flow to our own Government. 

Let’s focus on how we are starting to embrace technology to control the spread and identify infections.  

An example of this is in the US where Fitbit has teamed up with researchers at Scripps Research and Stanford University to provide patient data from its activity monitoring devices. 

In January Epidemiologist Jennifer Radin published a paper in the Lancet describing how data from a Fitbit could be used in the early identification of influenza-like viruses.  

“Currently when you go to your doctor, as long as you fall in this huge range, you’re considered normal,” she said. “These wearable devices can better identify what’s normal for you.” 

Epidemiologist Jennifer Radin

By continuously monitoring “biomarkers”, e.g. things like your skin temperature and heart rate and looking in real time for fluctuations in such metrics can help indicate the presence of Covid-19, before symptoms are apparent. 

This continual flow and analysis of this health data would be impossible without the application of technology. 

Biomarkers are at the infancy of connected technology in a similar way to what the Wright Brothers were to aviation. You can read more about this in our blog Daring to Dream. 

‘Proactive, predictive healthcare’ 

The speed at which the adaptation of wearable technology is being redesigned by computer scientists has been bought about due to our desperation to flatten the curve. 

In April this year, one of the world’s richest countries Liechtenstein, began the roll out of a new biometric bracelet programme. The bracelet measures and then sends data about your skins temperature, breathing and pulse rate automatically to neighbouring Switzerland for analysis in order to detect Covid-19 cases before symptoms become apparent. 

Eventually it is expected that all 38,000 Liechtenstein citizens will have access to this medical bracelet. 

Similar medical approaches have been going on for some years now.  

In 2015 a Professor of Genetics at Stanford University Michael Snyder, had been studying the public health application of wearables when the device he was trialling alerted him to having Lyme disease. 

AI + 5G = IoT (Artificial Intelligence + 5G = Internet of Things) 

This equation is one that you will all need to get to know and accept because it explains where the IoT comes from.  

In the future all objects will be connected. They will communicate with each other and this will have an enormous impact on both how we live our lives and our personal productivity. 

Fitbits and Liechtenstein biometric bracelets are just the start of this revolution. The advent of 5G technology is about to blow our mind as to how far this concept of wearable technology can go. 

Currently objects are static. They are designed and we consume them then dispose of them. 

However, the coming dynamic industrial infrastructure and vibrant electrical ecology is about to change all that. 

And this impact will go MUCH further than your Fitbit. 

Apparel changes for ever 

May 20, 1873 was the day that the world changed direction forever as it marks the birth of the most iconic and popular piece of apparel the world has ever seen. It was the day that a Government Granted patent was issued to Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis for their idea of using metal rivets as a way to strengthen trousers at points of strain, like pocket corners and the base of the button fly.  

This act of placing rivets on traditional blue denim pants created what we now call jeans. 

This invention did not just revolutionise the durability of the humble working man’s strides but Levis Strauss and Co have continued to dominate pop culture with their classic blue denim jeans and jackets. 

Yet here we are nearly 150 years on, and little has changed for this classic denim apparel – that is until now. 

Does anyone else see the irony that it has taken nearly 150 years for another invention, e.g. 5G, to wake this icon bringing it back to life? 

Denim Changing the World Again 

Welcome the Levis Trucker Jacket. So, what I hear you say? Another article of fashion soon to be converted into rags. 

But here the Levis designers have tried to produce something more than a jacket. Something more than the practical resolution of keeping you warm or a fashion statement that doesn’t just say “I identify with popular culture”. 

How about something that aims to get you to touch your phone less? 

See this jacket is wired for the 21st Century, complete with a microchip in the left cuff that’s capable of sensing hand movements. Movements that allow you to control your music, camera, make a phone call or drop a pin by swiping your sleeve that has a microchip woven into the fabric. 

“We’re taking an iconic Levi’s form, the jean jacket that we’ve known and loved for 53 years, and we’re adding this new technology component that allows touch and gesture on the cuff of the jacket to become a method for interacting with the digital utility of your smartphone,”  

Levi Strauss & Co VP global product innovator Paul Dillinger. 

The way it’s made, who buys it and how it is consumed or worn are all very different from when the product was first designed. 

It’s moving beyond your wrist  

Wearable tech is moving beyond your wrist, to your shoes, shirts and jackets and singlets, the 5G revolution is making this all a reality now. 

Pretty soon we will be thinking about our clothing in a very different way as it interfaces with Uber and Lift. However, interestingly in many ways it’s got the possibilities to take us back to the core mission of 1853, to increase the durability of workers pants. In today’s world fashion has a very short shelf life, usually a season.  

But what if fashion doesn’t have to represent buying something new? What if fashion could be driven by the new capabilities added to an existing garment you own? Imagine a world where your clothing becomes a platform of connectivity, connecting devices, rather than just a jacket to keep you warm. 

As connective products are able to deliver greater functionality, they become more relevant than owning a new physical product itself. So why couldn’t we just upgrade our jacket to the latest tech fashion resulting in a more sustainable fashion industry.  

It’s an interesting thought? 

What if your jeans could harness the energy you create when you walk or skip? 

Who knows which door of Stephen Johnson’s Adjacent Possible we will walk through? If you want to learn more about “Adjacent Possible” check out the blog 5Gee Wiz. 

What is clear is the relentless technological advancement humans are striving towards. As much as there is chaos and uncertainty in the world, so is there hope and progress towards a better living standard and better medical treatments. And of course, the increases in productivity will feed into ever higher property prices. 

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