Last year, wearable technology grew from a mere 200,000 wearable devices to 1.6 million, according to a report by Credit Suisse. By the end of June 2014, Net-a-Porter will be carrying its own Google Glass collection, which proves that even a computer for your face can be made fashionable.
While Google Glass devices range from $1,500 to $1,700, the more modest smart watches and fitness bands are available for around $100. Yet despite any differences, the goal remains the same — to create a mobile device that will integrate seamlessly into everyday activities and allow the user to invisibly and effortlessly interact online. Using these guiding principles, where fashion meets function, is where wearable tech shows the most success. Workout gear and watches aside, M.J. Bale and Ringly are two brands that see value in creating pieces that are both fashion- and technology-forward, and also hold unlimited potential for e-commerce and online business.
The Power Suit
Have you ever noticed the most powerful men don’t carry a wallet? Matt Jensen, the founder of Sydney suit maker M.J. Bale, is the first person to sew a smart payment chip (a Visa chip affiliated with and protected by the Queensland Heritage Bank) into the sleeve of a men’s suit. He calls it the Power Suit, and those that don one will be able to pick up the tab without a wallet. Suits (you can have multiple suits linked to one chip) with the chip can talk to any payWave terminal in range, which allows the user to make invisible, contactless transactions.
“Customers will adopt payment systems and channels that are most convenient for them,” says CEO of Heritage Bank, John Williams. “That’s why customers moved from physical branches to online and mobile. Customers will move to the level of least friction to undertake a transaction.”
This particular e-commerce tailoring was inspired by the notion of an embedded wallet, which wouldn’t spoil the clean lines of a slim-fitting suit. Jensen also plans to put the chip in cufflinks soon
The Cocktail Ring
With technology so discreet, you’ll forget it does anything other than accessorize your favorite looks. That’s what the CEO and co-founder of New York City start-up Ringly, Christina Mercando, is hoping for. What woman doesn’t have a cocktail-sized ring? And what woman would love to avoid pulling out her phone to check in on the news she missed mid-lunch? Mercando and co-founder Logan Munro started to ponder the idea of designing jewelry with Bluetooth technology. A few months and several golf ball-sized prototypes later, they give us Ringly, the cocktail ring that is synched to a smart phone and will discreetly (a vibrate or a tiny flash) alert you to the email that was received, the call you missed, the social media update you were tagged in, or the texts that came in when you were away from you phone and enjoying the moment.
How can e-commerce businesses take advantage of wearable technology? The key behind this new trend is to make purchases simple enough to require little to no thought or real action from the consumer. Take a look at your own products and services with that principle in mind; for instance, taxi-tech company Uber eliminated the need for hailing a cab and carrying cash by making the entire transaction as easy as pressing a button one time to secure and pay for a cab all in one fell swoop. Applications of the same technique to your business could include subscription-style service, a mobile app, one-click checkout, or one of hundreds of other options. Leave a comment below and let us know how you plan to innovate!