Smart clothing is still holding out for a hero to take it mainstream

And it looks like that one big launch won't happen until next year...
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The first story I wrote for Wareable was about smart clothing, and with all the exciting developments in the wearable industry right now, smart clothing remains the development I'm most excited about.

The problem is, smart clothing for the masses hasn't happened. Granted, we're only six months into the year, but if you look back at the future gazing reports, 2016 was supposed to be the year that smart clothing was to take off, and it hasn't. I still can't walk into a shop on the high street or add them into my online basket with the same ease I can with regular clothes and that's really disappointing.

Read this: The benefits of smart clothing

We're still waiting for the OMSignal OMBra sports bra, Hexoskin's Smart clothing range and the Lumo Run running shorts among others to be unleashed. But even then, these still feel like examples of connected kit for niche uses. I'm talking about the gear that everyone can wear.

So what's going on? We posed the same question about smart clothing last year, and it looks like we're being faced with some of the same issues. Price, killer features and having something you can throw into the wash without having to remember to clip out the sensor box.

I'm also getting that sense that it's actually a lot more difficult to make great smart clothing despite companies like Jabil making strides to create reference designs that are supposed to make manufacturing smart clothing for the masses easier.

All of the above are clearly contributing to the hold up, but I think there's a bigger issue at hand. That's the one piece of smart clothing that the world will see, and say, 'I need that in my life'.

That 'wow product' could be Google and Levi's Project Jacquard. A connected denim jacket that will let urban cyclists interact with their phone hands free from their jacket sleeve. It might not be as sensor packed as a tight-fitting shirt that monitors breathing rate, but with two big names like Google and Levi involved, it could be just what's needed for people to take more notice of smart clothing and its potential for everyday life.

I mean no disrespect to the startups that have so far dominated the industry. They are doing great things, but once the big boys like Google or Under Armour come to play, things will inevitably change.

The bad news is that nobody will be wearing Jacquard until 2017, so we will have to hold out for another year delaying smart clothing's ascendence into the mainstream once again. Until then, I'm going to have to make do with my dumb clothes, which I can live with. For now.

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Michael Sawh


Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.

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