Editor's pick product technology

Gentle Monster and Huawei team up to launch fashion-focused smart glasses

Korean luxury eyewear label Gentle Monster has partnered with Chinese technology giant Huawei to announce the launch of a range of smart glasses.

The range was introduced yesterday (March 26) at Huawei’s P30 Pro launch event in Paris as ‘one more stylish thing’ the company would be introducing to their hardware range this year.

The smart glasses will have integrated microphones and speakers, which through Bluetooth technology will allow wearers to pick up calls by simply touching the frame, as well as activate a voice assistant. The glass range will come in both prescription and sunglass frames in a variety of styles.

Speaking about the partnership during the launch event, Huawei said both companies were trying to make the glasses look as normal as possible, and designed for user’s everyday life. “I really appreciate Huawei because they realize that the eyewear comes first and the smart comes later,” added Hankook Kim, co-founder and CEO of Gentle Monster to WWD.

Unlike previous smart glasses that have been introduced to the market such as the Google Glass (which was discontinued in 2015) and Snap Inc’s Spectacles, the product will not feature an embedded camera. This was a conscious decision to show a focus on wearability and design, as opposed to tech functionality.

Huawei is not the only tech company developing smart glasses, however. Google, Microsoft and Apple are rumored all to be working on AR-enabled models, while at this year’s SXSW festival in Texas, Bose introduced its own version of an AR platform for frames.

Wearable technology has been on a constant evolution as consumers struggle to become accustomed to the concept beyond smart watches. Paul Dillinger, VP of global product innovation at Levi’s, spoke about this last month when hinting on future plans for its Project Jacquard jacket with Google. For the designer, consumers will only invest in smart accessories if they also look good once turned off. Dillinger also spoke about the smart jacket at length on the Innovators podcast in early 2018.

Additional reporting by Camilla Rydzek.

How are you thinking about product innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners for your innovation strategy. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more.

Podcast product

Heist’s Olympic designer on product innovation

You have to be bold and brave to do meaningful innovation, says Fiona Fairhurst, VP of innovation at underwear brand, Heist Studios, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent Global.

“We’re trying to make better products that make people’s lives better,” she explains.  

Listen here: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS

The first product under the newly-appointed designer’s remit at Heist is shapewear that not only looks more aesthetically pleasing than existing alternatives in the market, but removes any stigma for women wearing it. Fairhurst’s background is in sport, a world built around product innovation focused on the importance of performance.

She rose to fame during the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 where, while working at Speedo, she introduced a bodysuit using biomimetic sharkskin technology that went on to help 13 out of 15 swimming world records achieved during the competition. It was also eventually banned from the sport because it gave competitors an unfair advantage.

Her background has enabled her to strike the balance between the emotional side of design and the material innovation that leads to better product performance. Much like getting swimmers to swap their small Speedos for full bodysuits, for Heist it is about getting women to trust their expertise. “We very much want to base everything on science, technology and the innovation – and also what the consumer wants, which for Heist is about women.”  

During this conversation with Rachel Arthur at a FashMash event in London, Fairhurst also explains what excites her for the future of material innovation, the challenge of scaling sustainability, and what game-changing product Heist is working on next.

Heist Studios’ new Shapewear

Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by The Current Global, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.