#Trending: Connected tech for Generation Z will lead the way

The connected selfie generation
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There's no doubt that wearable companies are looking at the next generation (Generation Z, if you will) to boost sales and interest in upcoming devices.

In this new format of our weekly #Trending feature, we look at what smart stuff is pandering to the younger generation, which companies are leading the fray and why it's important.

What's it all about?

Wearable and connected tech innovation is spanning far past smartwatches and fitness trackers, meaning more and more dumb things are turning smart to hook the teens.

At a simpler level, much of the connected tech is all about the connected self and what's cool, rather than what can count steps or give a caloric intake.

Take for example, clothing. Sure fitness metrics are a big deal for smart clothing, but it's clear there's an interest in connecting the wearer to the internet - all the while maintaining an air of fashion, of course.

Fashion is actually a large part of generating interest. Similar to the concept of less metrics is best, fashion for Gen Z isn't just about the how much bling you can cram onto on a watch that sends notifications. It's about staying stylish, hip. That brings us to the companies getting it right in the next section.

Who are the big players?

#Trending: Connected tech for Generation Z will lead the way

The most obvious name in the mix is Snapchat. The Snapchat app itself is already a huge hit with kids, and even millennials. With the augmented reality Spectacles landing mysteriously around the US - in vending machines of course - the hype has reached the roof and blown it clean off.

Speaking of AR, no one speaks to the younger generation better than Apple and it's likely we'll see something in the form of AR glasses from Cupertino. If Snapchat can't make AR cool, then Apple might be able to. Announcements big and small are typically lauded as the next big hit with waves of kids - and adults alike - touting Apple-ware.

Wareable recently talked to company Studio XO who's also targeting the younger crowd with its smart clothes tech.

"We're for Gen Z - 10-25 year olds, who want to wear the internet. Their clothes don't live up to their expectation of the world around them," explained co-founder Benjamin Males.

A cap, backpack, shirts and jackets with light-up fibers connected to an app are all in the works from the company. The clothing then lights up in response to sound so you're turned into a live display of color.

Then there's the smaller companies hoping to use hearables to entice the Beats and Bose lovers. Vinci by Inspero is the latest we've seen and with its unique design, it's bound to attract young, trendy music lovers. On top of the distinct look, Vinci will stream or play downloaded tracks from Spotify, Soundcloud and Amazon Music with 16GB storage on the standard model. There's even AI on board to make music suggestions and learn your behaviors.

What's the big deal?

#Trending: Connected tech for Generation Z will lead the way

Just as Pokémon Go took augmented reality mainstream, Snapchat Spectacles will push people towards AR headsets and glasses. It's essentially doing what industrial looking specs and Google Glass haven't been able to do yet: make AR look cool.

Snapchat was simply clever enough to turn to its Gen Z user base and create something accessible, understandable and undeniably attractive.

The other companies are close behind but they're catching on to the bigger picture too; reaching out to tweens, teens and college kids is a tough sell for wearables and connected tech, but it can be done if it's executed in a manner that makes sense.

Whether it's through music and hearables, fashion and yes, now AR, these connected devices for Gen Z are only the beginning.

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Lily is a writer and editor specializing in tech, video games, marketing, education, travel writing, and creative fiction. 

She has over 10 years of experience covering the technology beat.

Lily has a passion for VR and AR technologies and was associate wearables editor at TechRadar US, before joining Wareable as US editor in 2016.

Lily will graduate in 2023 with an MFA in Creative Writing.

In her spare time, Lily can be found knee-deep in zine collaborations, novel writing, playing Dungeons & Dragons or hiking and foraging for mushrooms.

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