This is the last post in a series about Fashion 4.0 in The Fashion Retailer blog: IoT and Fashion. In previous posts about Fashion Technology, we have reviewed how Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, 3D Printing and Blockchain are transforming the Fashion Retail industry. Those technologies are not hermetic and create synergies like the one between AI, Blockchain and IoT. Everything will be connected (to the cloud) by 2020.
What is the Internet of Things?
At Wired.com, the term IoT is described as something that encompasses everything connected to the internet, but it is increasingly being used to define objects that “talk” to each other. “Simply, the Internet of Things is made up of devices – from simple sensors to smartphones and wearables – connected together,” Matthew Evans, the IoT programme head at techUK, says. By combining these connected devices with automated systems, it is possible to “gather information, analyse it and create an action” to help someone with a particular task, or learn from a process. In reality, this ranges from smart mirrors to beacons in shops and beyond (Feb 2018. Wired Explain by Matt Burgess).
In 2014, one of the early adopters in the retail arena was Macy´s, that implemented beacons, wireless devices that transmit Bluetooth signals, to send location-based promotions thru its app. Another example, easy to remember if you practice sport, was Nike+ shoes, that included a sensor that could track your running performance thru an iPhone App or iPod.
The Sport Industry is taking profit from the body cult and the industry of leisure is continuously evolving and adapting technology into garments and accessories: wearables (e.g. Suunto, Garmin, Polar), tracking Apps (e.g. Movescount, Strava), devices (Go Pro, Airdog, Hexo+ and sports drones) are just an example of how the ecosystem of sportswear is using high-tech to provide more services to sports lovers.
In Sports and Fashion in the Ironman era, I described how smart devices measure performance with biometric sensors. But it´s not only a sporty trend and, today, it´s usual to see more and more people wearing high-thech sport watches on a daily basis. Even some business executives are wearing a Suunto watch (or others like Garmin, Polar), instead of a Rolex or any automatic luxury watch. It´s cool, a symbol of status/ way of life and a sign of having a healthy life.
The benefits of IoT for apparel and accessories customers are huge, and most of them are linked to health. Smart sensors located in a shirt (see Hexoskin), for example, could track your heart-rate or temperature, while socks could measure your steps, calories consumed, amongst other data (see Sensoria). This data will provide experts or doctors with valuable information that permits to monitor your health and performance.
The benefits of IoT for fashion retail companies are: to better understand customers needs and product usage will permit to improve customer service; optimize product assortment and customize recommendations; to improve design, pattern and shape; to have more insights to innovate; to track & trace thanks to RFID (read an interview to an Operations Manager that implemented RFID at Brownie, a fashion retail company from Barcelona). RFID was implemented by Zara in 2014 (Zara started testing with RFID in 2007!), and is a clear Omnichannel enabler.
What are the companies using IoT in the Fashion industry (apart from the previous ones)?
LOOMIA designs and manufactures soft, flexible circuitry that can heat, light, sense and track data, while seamlessly integrating into soft goods. The LOOMIA Electronic Layer (LEL) is a soft flexible circuit that can be embedded into textiles for heating, lighting, sensing or data-tracking applications. The LEL integrates seamlessly with user´s chosen material. Their IP is in several areas: flexible apparel-friendly connectors, components, custom battery form factors, and e-patterned materials.
Coded Couture by IVYREVEL: the Swedish-based brand partnered with Google to develop Coded Couture app. This app would track your activities in order to create a dress. According where do you go (e.g. fancy restaurant, famous night-club, neighborhood), the app will recommend to add diamonds, a modern style, a specific color, etc.
FITBIT In 2007, our founders, Eric and James, realised that sensors and wireless technology had advanced to a point where they could bring amazing experiences to fitness and health. They embarked on a journey to create a wearable product that would change the way we move. In May 2018, Fitbit and Google announced that they are teaming up. Fitbit will use Google’s new Cloud Healthcare API to integrate its data into healthcare applications, allowing users to have a better understanding of their own health while providing doctors with valuable insights. Fitbit also collaborates with luxury fashion houses like Tory Burch (Fashion Meets Fitness).
AMAZON ECHO connects to Alexa-a cloud-based voice service-to play music, make calls, set alarms and timers, ask questions, check your calendar, weather, traffic and sports scores, manage to-do and shopping lists, control compatible smart home devices, and more. ECHO LOOK is a hands-free camera and style assistant with Alexa that incudes style check to get a second opinion on your oufit.
Amongs its characteristics, ECHO LOOK permits to see yourself from every angle in the Echo Look app, view photos and videos of your outfits, select your favorites, organize your looks into Collections, and share with friends. Also allows to discover new brands and styles and see what colors you wear most often. From Echo Look, you can get a second opinion on which outfit looks best with Style Check, a new service that combines machine learning algorithms with advice from fashion specialists.
EVRYTHNG is a Smart Products Platform in the cloud that collects, manages and applies real-time data from smart products and smart packaging to drive IoT applications. EVRYTHNG has partnered with Avery Dennison RBIS to enable 10 billion apparel items to be ‘Born Digital’, via the Janela™ Smart Products Platform – powered by EVRYTHNG. Each Born Digital item connects to an intelligent, software brain in the cloud. This means brands can turn all their products into an owned digital media platform for valuable new insights, direct consumer relationships and smarter business operations.
AVERY DENNISON manufactures and distributes display graphics, labeling and packaging materials, retail graphic embellishments and RFID tags that companies around the world use to engage customers and efficiently manage their inventories. Ini 2016, they partnered with Rochambeau and EVRYTHNG to create Bright BMBR – a bomber jacket embedded with a NFC chip and a personalised QR code. In 2017, Avery Dennison’s and EVRYTHNG partnered with Rebecca Minkoff to launch smart bags. Customers can scan the bag and will receive exclusive offers, e-commerce services, private styling sessions with Rebecca, style recommendations, video content, etc.
FARFETCH is an online fashion retail platform that sells products from over 700 boutiques and brands from around the world. The company was founded in 2007 by the Portuguese entrepreneur José Neves with its headquarters in London. In 2017, Farfetch envisioned the Store of the Future to give an experience that gather the best from offline and online worlds. The enabler is, how not, technology and data (e.g. smart fitting room, RFID, customized service, etc).
WEARABLE X is a fashion tech company that brings together design and technology to create a better quality of life. The Sydney-born, NYC-based company launched in 2013 with a product centered around touch. The first development of the haptic platform was Fundawear: vibrating underwear for couples in long distance relationships. Done in partnership with Havas for a Durex campaign, the success of this campaign led to the launch of Wearable Experiments (now Wearable X).
Polar Team Pro Shirt smart shirt comes with seamlessly integrated sensors to monitor heart rate and a pocket for player tracking sensor located on the upper back for optimal GPS reception. The second skin fit ensures constriction-free movement on the field and the specific body moisture system keeps players cool no matter what challenge the game throws at you. This smart shirt also blocks the damaging effects of ultraviolet rays so players can concentrate in the heat of the game.
Polar Team Pro Shirt