Wearable tech makes clothing and accessories fashionable

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Wearable tech brings users one step closer to being glued to their devices by integrating technology into clothing and accessories.

Wearable tech is not a new concept, but it has grown in popularity and general relevance in the past two years, going back to when Google unveiled Google Glass at their annual I/O conference in 2012.

Glass and Samsung Galaxy Gear are the two devices most touted by the tech community, but both are generally considered unattractive to those outside the community.

“It’s not our forte,” associate computer science professor Kristen Grauman said. “We don’t always know how to make the best design or [user interface] or what have you. We think about it and recognize the importance, but it somewhat falls outside
our scope.”

Wearable tech combines two industries with very different dynamics and skill sets: tech and fashion.

“We don’t know everything about computer science,” textiles and apparel lecturer Karen Bravo said. “You’re always going to have computer scientists inventing these new innovations, but unless there are talented designers working on these products to make them more appealing to real humans, they’re not going anywhere.” 

Bravo teaches an apparel design class where students integrate technology into their designs. Students are making pieces such as jackets with blinkers built in for cyclists or cameras built into hoods for action sports athletes. 

“It’s where that line is between arts and design,” Bravo said. “We don’t want to just make it good to look at. It has to be used by real humans for a real purpose.”

Tilde Snyder, a student in Bravo’s class, plans on integrating microphones and cameras into her garments to create active wear that can be used as a field recording device. 

“I’m researching available technology and how to incorporate it without sacrificing aesthetics,” Snyder said. “As a former [computer science] major, I’m very interested in the intersection between the two fields.”

Wearable tech faces some major challenges in order to make its way into the daily lives of American consumers. It will take time to iron out the new technology and design methodologies. But there is no denying that wearable tech is quickly becoming a hot new trend. 

“It’s exciting and it’s current,” Bravo said. “It’s what people want to do now.”