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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.

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ICYMI: Industry faces its #MeToo moment, tech hits Olympics, Vogue and Amazon Echo Look

Tom Ford - ICYMI #metoo metoo fashion week
Tom Ford

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week.

TOP STORIES
  • New York Fashion Week: industry faces its #MeToo moment [TheGuardian]
  • Can an app launch the fashion world’s #metoo reckoning? [Vanity Fair]
  • Olympic clothing designers try to beat the cold with technology [Scientific American]
  • Vogue and GQ will test content inside Amazon’s Echo Look [Digiday]
  • Can Christian Louboutin trademark red soles? An EU court says no [NY Times]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Intel unveils smart glasses that you might want to wear [Engadget]
  • Walmart’s tech incubator buys VR startup Spatialand [Reuters]
  • Opinion: Blockchain technology will make true luxury more lucrative [JingDaily]
  • JD.com and Fung align for AI development [RetailDive]
  • Asics Ventures invests in conductivity textiles [FashionUnited]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • Eileen Fisher, Columbus Consulting reveal details for sustainable design plan [WWD]
  • Primark publishes global supplier map showing all of its factories [TheIndustry]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Target CEO: Our personal shoppers will deliver to ‘your kitchen table’ [CNBC]
  • Macy’s plans pop-ups to amplify discovery [RetailDive]
  • Malls are dying, but things remembered is still hanging on [Racked]
  • Tips from the e-commerce giant Zalando [Maize]
MARKETING
  • Benjamin Millepied directs Ansel Elgort and Kate Mara in a mesmerizing film for Rag & Bone [CreativityOnline]
  • Nike rolls out NikePlus membership benefits [WWD]
  • Asics personal trainers will kick your butt as you use its fitness app [CreativityOnline]
SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Instagram entices brands with new shopping-enabled ads [TheDrum]
  • Pinterest sees 600 million visual searches every month [VentureBeat]
  • Swarovski and KiraKira+ launch fashion week ‘brilliance’ filter [WWD]
PRODUCT
  • UA HOVR, ushering in a new chapter of sneaker tech innovation [FashNerd]
BUSINESS
  • Canada Goose craze continues as shoppers flock to new stores [BoF]
  • British designer Misha Nonoo is rewriting fashion’s playbook [FastCompany]
  • The cautionary tale of H&M and digital disruption [BoF]
  • LVMH Luxury Ventures backs Stadium Goods [WWD]
  • Tapestry shares rise after earnings beat expectations [BoF]
Categories
product technology

An early history of wearable technology: from 1286 to present day

wearable technology smart glasses
Hugo Gernsback wearing his TV Glasses in a 1963 Life magazine shoot

When we think of wearable technology today, the first thing to spring to mind is smart watches and fitness trackers – the devices we attach to our bodies to count our steps, monitor our health and communicate more readily.

But, strictly speaking, technology on the human form stretches way earlier than that and far more primitively too. In 1286 there was the first pair of eyeglasses for instance – an innovation that transformed lives for centuries to come. In the 1600s and the early days of China’s Qing dynasty, the common abacus was worn as a ring. Then we had air-conditioned hats, TV headsets, wrist PCs and sneaker phones through the 1800-1900s, before the very idea of anything sport related hit with Nike in 2006. Since then there has of course been everything from Google Glass to Fitbits, Apple Watches, Misfits and more, not to mention lots in the way of solar-panelled jackets, connected jewellery and beyond.

Give and Take, a multi-brand online store for timepieces in the UK, has put together an infographic on this early history, as below. Note the themes we’re still obsessing over today: how to make tech more accessible to our daily lives, how to think insane clunky devices are appealing to the human form, how to turn some of that hardware into soft garments and how we might go about attaching it to our faces too.


wearable technology history

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social media technology

From social to wearables: Is Snapchat developing smart glasses?

snapchat-glasses-smart-glasses-snapglass

It’s not impossible Snapchat is going to start making technology products that we can actually touch and wear. Or that’s certainly the hint from some of its recent hires.

CNET did some digging and found that the $16bn social media network (used by around 100m teens and younger millennials every day), has about a dozen wearable tech insiders on its payroll, as well as veterans from Nokia and Logitech.

The talk is that if it’s working on anything, it’ll be smart glasses. After all, it’s already owned Vengeance Labs (a smart eyewear startup) since 2014.

Snapchat has more recently hired a couple of key people from Microsoft’s Hololens project and Qualcomm’s Vuforia team, plus some more people with eyewear design (rather than tech) skills and has some intriguing job ads out there that hint at further eyewear development.

Given that Snapchat is all about fast photo and video messaging, smart glasses could work. One of the problems with Google’s original Glass product was that it tried to do so much and looked pretty unappealing as a result.

But smart glasses that are only about photography/video could have potential… and they’d beat the current crop of wearable cameras that still have a way to go before the reality meets the advertising claims.

Still, Snapchat’s not letting on for now so we’ll just have to wait and see.

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday

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Blocks technology

Smart glasses: Finally ready for take-off?

googleglass

If you thought smart glasses began and ended with Google Glass, you’re mistaken. At least according to the wearable tech analysts at Juniper Research. They’ve launched a new report that says shipments will top 12m by 2020, with a growth spurt coming after 2017.

While admitting that the market has stalled somewhat and is actually 15 months behind previous expectations due to Google pulling (then re-starting) its much-hyped Glass product, Juniper is expecting big things due to some new technology and re-focus in the market.

And the growth it expects will be some feat given that only around 1m products in this category are likely to be shipped this year.

So what’s the tech that’s going to make it happen? Microsoft’s HoloLens. Juniper expects it to kick-start further development and interest in the category.

Announced at the same time as Windows 10, HoloLens will finally start shipping (for developers, not the general public) in Q1 this year. HoloLens is an augmented reality headset that’s basically a cordless Windows 10 computer. We’re not exactly talking about a fashion accessory here. But it’s interesting nonetheless. Check out this video to see what it can do:

So is there any other development happening in smart glasses? Of course there is. ODG (with its R7 product based on an Android operating system), Sony, Meta and potentially Magic Leap, also have products set to move beyond developer-only devices and into more general availability.

And then there’s Google Glass 2, which is meant to launch this year, this time targeted at business rather than leisure users.

But will they have much more success than Google Glass 1 did? I actually tried out a pair of Googles Glasses back in mid-2014 and really wanted to like them. But while the Google rep said they’d liberate me from staring at my smartphone all day, having to tilt my head up and down to scroll through web pages didn’t feel very liberating! Nor did having everyone stare at me because of the strange glasses I was wearing.

In fact, it felt like this was yet another tech product (just like the smartwatch) where the tech guys didn’t so much meet a consumer demand, as developed the tech and hoped it would be appealing enough to create the demand later.

sony

But tech firms have learnt their lessons, it seems. What’s different about the newer breed of smart eyewear is that they’ve realised trying to integrate them seamlessly into our everyday lives isn’t really on. They’re not fashion items with added functionality, and they’re not mini computers that can be made to look fashionable and feel like ordinary glasses.

This time round, their makers are targeting the business market and the augmented reality users, which means the products will be used in very specific scenarios, not to look generally cool while also giving you directions to the nearest bus stop.

Maybe one day we really will see smart glasses like those Geordi LaForge wore in Star Trek Next Generation. Now that would be smart…

star-trend-geordi-laforge

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday

Categories
Editor's pick technology

A whistle-stop tour through the future shopping experience

This article first appeared on Dazed 

dazed_futureshopping_pinarviola
Have you ever had one of those moments where the person walking down the street just a few steps ahead of you, is wearing a coat you’re desperate to own? Once upon a time you may have built up the courage to chase after her and ask where it’s from. Not far from now you’ll be able to pull out your smartphone, snap a shot of it and image recognition technology from Cortexica or in apps like Asap54 and Snap Fashion will accurately do its work to tell you not only what brand it is, but where nearby has it in stock too.

On this occasion, imagine you’re headed to an upmarket department store with availability in your size. As you walk through the door iBeacon transmitters using Bluetooth low energy technology activate and send a welcome notification to your phone. The message lets you know there’s also a 15% off offer on all products today.

You click to open the corresponding app for the store itself, and it syncs with the earlier image recognition system to show you exactly where to find the item you want. You’re wearing your new designer (Ray-Ban) smart glasses (Google), which personalise your view on the store – an augmented reality overlay from Blippar is placed on your surroundings directing you with turn-by-turn navigation as you walk.

Additional information pops up as you head that way, alerting you to items you specifically might like. It knows your purchase history and can flag up pieces that will style well with what you already own. Privacy isn’t a concern – you’ve opted-in for this. You know this department store well and like a classic loyalty programme, there’s a sense of value attached to letting them know who you are.

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Further special prices and offers are highlighted and adapted especially for you based on your social influence too. If you opt to share with friends you will receive yet a further discount.

As you lift dresses and tops off the rails, the hangers activate screens alongside you featuring images and videos of models wearing the items. The system is gesture-controlled thanks to Microsoft Kinect, so you can wave to scroll beyond each shot to see further details about each garment; where it comes from, what the manufacturing process was, even what the washing instructions are.

You can also pull up a virtual assistant to help you. Created by a company called Fluid, this is a cognitive computing based system developed using IBM Watson. It understands natural human language allowing you to ask it a question as you would a friend. As it’s also based on voice recognition, you simply tell it about your upcoming holiday and request suggestions for what you might need.

It returns a list of specific products based on the climate of your destination as well as what it knows is trending in that market. Rather than relying on keywords to surface specific product, the artificially intelligent app (yes, think robot) acts more like a personal shopper would, offering options based on context.

You take all the items you’ve selected into the fitting room. Each garment has a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag, meaning the room recognises each piece individually. As you try them on, content is activated on the mirror, including recommendations for what you could wear with it, like a necklace and pair of shoes to go with the dress, or a bag to match your skirt. A 3D printer outside from 3D Systems allows you to instantly print any matching accessories you wish to buy.

The virtual experience, this time powered by Accenture and Microsoft, also shows you what the piece you’re wearing would look like on you in different colours. It lets you connect with a sales assistant automatically who brings you in new pieces, then offers you that all-important human connection in terms of advice and expertise on what suits you best.

The mirror you’re looking into also has a memory. Created by MemoMi with Intel, it has saved 360-degree views of what you’ve tried on so far to a right hand column on the display, so when you’re still not quite sure on what to buy you can go back and look at each of them, or share a couple of them with friends to help.

One of the dresses you want for an upcoming event doesn’t quite fit as nicely as you’d like it to, so you activate the connected fitting room to do a full 3D body scan of your figure. That data can then be sent off with the item to be tailored exactly to fit. The sales assistant lets you know you also have the option to have it made up in other fabrics – she passes you her tablet, which uses haptic technology (tiny vibrations that recreate what something feels like) to allow you to run your finger over the screen and feel the different textures.

You make your choices and use the e-tattoo on your wrist with personal authentication details to make payment; it syncs once again with your store loyalty scheme so you get the best deal possible that day.

As you head out you decide to stop at a virtual storefront powered by eBay, this time to select food for dinner. It senses the Apple health tracker you’re wearing and through a number of apps you’ve downloaded can identify the nutrients you’re missing from the day. It suggests a recipe, and at a quick touch of a button syncs with the sensors in your fridge at home and detects the ingredients you’re missing. They’ll be delivered by drone by the time you get home.

Visual Credits:

Artwork by Pinar & Viola

Model wears Janneke Verhoeven

3D pet designed by Alewism