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Michael Kors launches smartwatch-focused chatbot

Michael Kors introduces chatbot to smartwatches, tech, fashion tech, smart technology, chatbots
Michael Kors introduces chatbot to support smartwatches

Michel Kors has launched a chatbot on Facebook Messenger and Google Assistant, designed to support its Access Sofie smartwatch for women.

The bot aims to teach users about the smartwatch’s features and functionalities, guiding new owners on the set-up process of their device when they first purchase, enabling them to get the most out of it thereafter.

It also provides style inspiration curated from user-generated content and shopping information about items to buy within the experience, including interchangeable bands for the watches. That is done within the Facebook Messenger feed, or via a voice-activated option available through the Google Assistant.

Should the user need help, the bot is also equipped with FAQ support and the ability to hand users off to a human customer service representative when the moment arises.

The chatbot is also available for non-watch owners, enabling them to explore the different Sofie smartwatch styles, then inviting them to either make a purchase on the spot or head to their nearest Michael Kors location.

This sort of move for chatbots as a key part of customer service is becoming increasingly commonplace among brands and retailers. Part of the reason, beyond the marketing drive it has facilitated initially, is the scale it enables. As the technology itself improves, this is only going to get smarter.

Across verticals, there are now more than 100,000 bots on the Facebook Messenger platform, all of which have the potential to reach the platform’s 1.3 billion users.

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Wearable tech’s future: Beyond fitness trackers to $160bn in 10 years

smartwatch
The wearable tech market will be worth $160bn in 10 years

Have you noticed how the hype around wearable technology has died down lately? A couple of years ago you couldn’t move for some expert predicting that we’d all be talking into our jackets and lighting up the room with our jeans.

So has wearable tech gone from being the Next Big Thing to Yesterday’s Thing? Not at all, in fact a new report shows how its NBT status has evolved to make it a much more nuanced market and one that’s set to grow fast.

The wearable tech market is currently worth around $30bn but will hit $160bn in the next 10 years, the report from IDTechEx says. On the way, it’ll be worth $40bn in the next two years and $100bn by 2023.

Not that it’s going to achieve all that just on the back of the fitness trackers and smartwatches that currently dominate the market. After all, the former category has proved popular but prices are relatively low, while the latter hasn’t exactly grabbed mass consumer imagination just yet.

What’s needed is for wearables to expand into other areas of our lives and IDTechEx says it will do just that. It believes there will be almost 40 product sub-categories in the next 10 years, including fitness trackers, smartwatches, connected clothing, smart eyewear (particularly important because of augmented reality and virtual reality), medical devices, smart patches, headphones, and hearing devices.

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At the moment, just about every wearable tech device relies on a smartphone to act as the hub, and it will continue to do so for some time. But IDTechEx also says that “all of the largest manufacturers now look to a future, where the hub itself may become wearable”.

We’re already seeing some signs of this with devices like Samsung’s Gear S2 not relying on a smartphone to make calls and Google’s upcoming Android Wear 2.0 having more independent functionality too.

Report author James Hayward said: “Fuelled by a frenzy of hype, funding and global interest, wearable technology was catapulted to the top of the agenda for companies spanning the entire value chain and world.

“This investment manifested in hundreds of new products and extensive tailored R&D investigating relevant technology areas. However, the fickle nature of hype is beginning to show, and many companies are now progressing beyond discussing wearables to focus on the detailed and varied sub-sectors.”

So what does all that mean for the future? Well based on those sub-categories that IDTechEx lists, we still won’t be talking into our jackets or lighting up room with our jeans in the next decade. But it does seem than wearable tech will work its way into our lives in many different areas.

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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Editor's pick technology

IN PICTURES: Macy’s new “One Below” juniors floor – a tech-infused playground

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Macy’s has opened a new juniors floor on the lower level of its flagship Herald Square location in New York City, with numerous tech features including a selfie wall and Levi’s customisation station installed.

Called One Below, the 53,000 square-foot space is part of a $400m renovation of the store. It features young brands such as Material Girl and XOXO, and a wealth of interactive experiences to engage with today’s young consumers.

The selfie wall allows users to pose against famous Macy’s backdrops; the Levi’s custom laser bar let’s them choose designs from a book to appear on their jeans; a wearable tech area dedicated to smart watches includes brands like Fitbit, Samsung and Fossil; and another from 3D systems sees 3D-printed products including jewellery and phone cases for sale.

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A blow dry bar is also coming to the beauty department soon, and there are screens in every department, including a giant one outside the fitting room showing what looks like Instagram posts across it. All the seats for those waiting also have charging stations for devices.

The floor is reportedly aimed at Millennials (those born circa 1980-2000), but it already feels younger than that – for today’s pre-teens and teens (if the prom and homecoming dresses are anything to go by) and their increasingly connected futures.

More importantly, it’s also heavily for today’s teen tourists: it’s no mistake the selfie wall appears in the Macy’s Arcade for instance, which also houses the department store’s souvenir products. This is for visitors, not regular shoppers; it’s intentionally gimmicky, but that’s why it works.

Here are a load more original pictures of the space:

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Digital snippets: Style.com, Etsy, The Iconic, Dezeen, DVF, Uber, Alexander McQueen

A round-up of the latest stories to know about surrounding all things fashion and tech…

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  • What the end of Style.com means for the rest of fashion publishing [Fashionista]
  • Post IPO, Etsy CTO on its conservatively crafty tech philosophy [TechCrunch]
  • Online retailer The Iconic considers drone deliveries [AFR]
  • Old-school timepieces take a stand against the Apple Watch in humorous Dezeen campaign (as pictured) [PSFK]
  • Diane von Furstenberg and that Bruce Jenner Instagram gaffe [WWD]
  • Uber is quietly testing a massive merchant delivery program [TechCrunch]
  • Alexander McQueen explores fashion’s relationship to dance in new video campaign [Luxury Daily]
  • Reebok launches ‘Hunt the Pump’ Instagram treasure hunt [Marketing Magazine]
  • Japanese salarymen unleash their inner surfers with Quiksilver’s amazing wetsuit [Creativity]
  • Google didn’t kill Glass, it’s just making it sexier [Fast Company]
  • Nike and Under Armour look increasingly like tech companies; spending wildly to watch your every step [The Washington Post]
  • Why are major tech brands so obsessed with fashion? [i-D]
  • As technology and fashion converge, get ready for 3D-printed shoes, special parkas for smoggy days, and maybe even jeans that fit [The Atlantic]
  • Something old (bridal wear) meets the new (3D printing) [NY Times]
  • 3D-printed swimsuit’s design mimics water movement [PSFK]
  • Will drones take fashion into the future? [i-D]
  • Online fashion marketplace Poshmark raises $25 million funding round [BoF]
  • What does the ideal click and collect service look like? [Econsultancy]
  • In customer service, online-only retailers are beating out brick-and-mortar [Fashionista]
  • Refinery29 fetches $50 million investment from WPP and Scripps [AdAge]
  • WeChat publishing is changing China’s mediascape [BoF]
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digital snippets e-commerce mobile social media Startups technology

Digital snippets: Yoox, Net-a-Porter, Farfetch, Lord & Taylor, Burberry, Nasty Gal, Nike

A round-up of the latest stories to know about surrounding all things fashion and tech…

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  • The Yoox and Net-a-Porter merger is creating a tech giant as much as a fashion giant [Quartz]
  • Farfetch’s global platform play [BoF]
  • Did Lord & Taylor’s hot Instagram campaign thumb its nose at FTC disclosure rules? [AdWeek]
  • Burberry broadcasts ‘London in L.A.’ show via Periscope [Creativity]
  • Nasty Gal’s uncertain future: does it have what it takes to stay on top? [Racked]
  • Nike’s latest addition to the “lady empowerment ad” genre is one of the most relatable [Fashionista]
  • Stuart Weitzman campaign starts with cool cinemagraphs on Instagram, then follows up on Facebook [AdWeek]
  • Neiman Marcus introduces new image recognition “Snap. Find. Shop” app [Haute Living]
  • How Old Navy is winning at YouTube [Digiday]
  • Old Navy and Banana Republic among first brands to use Instagram’s carousel ads and link to product page [AdAge]
  • Asos eyes emerging artists on Vevo to deepen ties to 20-somethings [The Drum]
  • Amazon quietly acquired Shoefitr to improve how it sells footwear online [TechCrunch]
  • Viral style: why are we obsessed? [BBC]
  • Fashion brands are ignoring the internet because the market hasn’t yet forced them to take action [BoF]
  • What can fashion learn from science? [i-D]
  • Digital beauty businesses aim for breakthrough [BoF]
  • Forget the Internet of Things, there is a digital revolution taking place in our shopping malls [Forbes]
  • If you text this phone number, a guy named Stefan will send you limited-edition clothes [Business Insider]
  • The RealReal raises $40 million to double sales in 2015 [Fashionista]
  • Fashion can win the wearables war [BoF]
  • Ad spend on smart watches estimated to reach nearly $70m by 2019 [The Drum]
  • Six retailers doing the most to make mobile part of the in-store experience [PSFK]