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.
Wearables go invisible
- Inside Chaotic Moon's visions of invisible UISXSW: We check out the futuristic concepts coming out of this Austin studio
- How fashion is making wearable tech disappearThe rise of the invisibles – the next-gen connected tech you won’t be able to see
- Ingestibles and implantables are hereWould you swallow a smart pill or get a chip put inside your body?
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.