Will Google/Levi’s smart jacket finally make wearables fashionable?
A year or two ago, the tech world was convinced of a coming wearable revolution that would be on par with the leap from desktop computing to mobile. Things haven’t materialized that way. But despite the failure of some wearables to catch on, some once-popular ones plateauing and others falling completely out of fashion, Google hasn’t given up on the idea.
Google and Levi’s debuted a “smart jean jacket” at SXSW earlier in the month, according to The Washington Post. The jacket, which will hit retail shelves in the fall, is targeted at bicycle commuters and allows wearers to answer phone calls, get directions and the like through their headphones merely by tapping their sleeves. The jacket has electronic “smart fibers” woven throughout and is washable when the control-cufflink is removed. It will retail for $350.
Google’s previous effort in wearable devices represents one of the technology’s biggest cautionary tales. Google Glass, the company’s web-enabled glasses, experienced a backlash that made users the object of widespread mockery. Glass has reportedly since seen some success in medical environments. And while Snap is now betting on the idea of a Glass-like device, it’s too early to say if Snap Spectacles are destined for widespread adoption.
Other wearables from other companies were bigger hits than Glass, but still somewhat flash-in-the-pan. Apple Watch, while it had a good quarter recently, remains a niche product. And even the big wearable success story, FitBit, is not seeing the sales it once did.
The Levi/Google collaboration could be unique, however, in that, unlike its progenitors, it is fashionable first, then functional. For people already in the market for a jean jacket it might not be much of a leap to upgrade to one with functional bells and whistles, even though the wearable could raise questions of durability and safety.
Retailers have also joined in the search for the wearable device that sticks. Last year British apparel retailer Topshop began a startup incubator to find and facilitate the release of the next big wearable.
- Can Snapchat Spectacles avoid the missteps of Google Glass? – RetailWire
- Will Topshop discover the next big wearable device? – RetailWire
- Google Glass not a flop in the emergency room, doctor says – CNBC
- Apple Watch Sales Reach an All-Time High While Fitbit Falters – App Advice
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you expect the Levi’s/Google smart jacket to see widespread adoption among its target audience of bike commuters? What will determine if technology embedded in clothing is a hit in the consumer market?