South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX features some of the best music, film and cutting edge technology. Last year was the first time I attended SXSW when I started to hear the chatter about the emerging trend of “wearables” and with just a handful of panels on the topic in 2013 that changed at lighting speed in 2014. Wearables were the hot trend topics.
The Webster dictionary definition defines it as “denoting or relating to a computer or other electronic device that is small or light enough to be worn or carried on one’s body.”
The most popular category on the market for wearables is in the category of fitness and health. Wristbands like the popular FitBit and Jawbone to monitor your heart or steps taken during the day or to monitor your sleep and the Shine which is a quarter sized disk worn as a necklace, a clip or as a bracelet to monitor your activity and daily movement. Google glass, the virtual eyewear that works like your smartphone with voice commands was seen being worn by many attendees during SXSW Interactive.
“I think this is the year for wearables,” said Pete Cashmore, Mashable CEO.
“I am wearing the Galaxy Gear and they just brought out the Gear 2 by Samsung, and they just announced the Gear Fit, which is like a fitness tracker. Apple is supposedly bringing out the new iWatch in the fall which is apparently going to be focusing on fitness.”
While there were so many wearable panels and products to share every one in this article, here are a few of my favorites.
Austrialian designer Alison Lewis from Wearable Experiments, created the Navigation Jacket. At first glance it’s a traditional blazer, but this blazer will help take you places, get you there on time and you’ll never get lost. Once you download the companion app, you will be buzzed on your shoulder to turn right or to turn left. This jacket not only has applicable use for the geographically challenged but what a wonderful option for the visually impaired.
Liz Salcedo, a former social worker and her tech savvy hubby put their talents together to create a self-charging mini bag called the Everpurse, a small bag about the size of a cosmetic case that fully charges your phone twice with no cords.
Perfect for a plane trip, or for business when you aren’t able to charge your phone. At the end of day just place the bag on the recharging table and you’re ready for another busy day using you phone and not being stuck trying to find an outlet. At around $150 this was by far the most affordable and wearable product you can buy right now.
In a sea of casually dressed techno geeks with backpacks, I immediately noticed a stylishly dressed gal carrying an amazing bag at one of the panel discussions. It was bag invented by an MIT student and self proclaimed “techanista” who was fed up with charging all of her devices.
“I walked out of my dorm room at MIT and I was frustrated that I couldn’t find an outlet to charge my device and there has to be a solution for this”, stated inventor and CEO of Jon Lou, Theordora Koullias.
The Jon Lou bag will not only charge your phone but everything you own with a USB hookup and claims to charge your devices up to 14 times. The Jon Lou bag also has LED technology built in so you can see inside your bag in low light and a companion app will continue to monitor your charging consumption…now that’s a really smart bag!
One of the common key takeaways during SXSW Interactive, was wearables should work seamlessly with your lifestyle and shouldn’t require a lot of steps to make it work nor be cumbersome or too “techy”. We are also experiencing the very early stages of the wearables industry and mixing fashion and technology is still quite challenging. You never know, next year at SXSW someone may say “beam me up Scotty” to their smartwatch during a panel discussion and it may really happen!
Jon Lou (doesn’t have a website…but I think there is a facebook/tumbler…
Wearable Experiments: http://wearableexperiments.com/
Link to Everpurse video: