Where healthcare and fashion once seemed like entities that would rarely intertwine, the emergence of modern technology has helped to pave the way for more discrete, functional, and fashionable approaches to attire and accessories.
We’re already seeing major tech firms seek to prioritize health in their products. In an interview on CNBC, Apple CEO Tim Cook reiterated that his company’s greatest contribution to mankind will be related to ‘health’, rather than its renowned iPhone, iPod, or Mac products today.
This focus can perhaps be seen in the continued development of the Apple Watch, which can monitor our health in deeper ways and even features an AFib feature designed to alert users to heartbeat irregularities.
In incorporating essential health readings into a stylish accessory, Apple has helped to make healthcare and fashion more closely aligned, which can bring many benefits to users in a less jarring manner.
It’s this blending of health and fashion that’s encouraging more firms to unite the two entities and provide a service that can help to maintain the well-being of users in a more functional way.
The Emergence of Smart Clothing
While we’re accustomed to smart wearables like the aforementioned Apple Watch, smart clothing technology can help to deliver more comfortable garment wearables that can be tailored to be visually appealing and important in maintaining our health.
Thanks to Internet of Things technology, it’s possible to incorporate metal fibres, conductive ink, nanoparticles, and chromic materials into clothing to help bring new functionality to our attire for health purposes.
There are many prospective purposes for the incorporation of smart clothing. For instance, it can form a ‘life belt’ around the abdomen of pregnant women that can help track the movement and vital signs of their baby. In sportswear, bionic bras can tighten and loosen to offer greater levels of comfort for wearers, and in military scenarios, IoT sensors in clothing could detect the presence of hazardous chemicals when exploring new environments.
While the emergence of smart clothing will carry countless more health benefits, factors like price and durability may mean that we’re still some years from seeing these direct health benefits infiltrate the world of fashion. Furthermore, the matter of charging the technology within garments may cause further barriers to entry in the early stages of IoT development.
Fashionable Assistive Hardware
One market that readily combines fashion and healthcare today can be found in assistive hardware for users with visual impairments.
Although technology is growing around improving the lives of those with varying levels of blindness caused by blindness and other conditions, and the evolution of the diagnosis of eye issues is improving, it’s likely that assistive hardware will be a major breakthrough for this field of healthcare.
While wearing assistive hardware like headsets can be difficult for users who simply want to function using more discreet technology, gadgets like Orcam’s MyEye 2 are great fashionable tools for wearers.
The MyEye 2 takes the form of a low-vision electronic gadget designed to make reading, writing, facial recognition, and other daily processes easier for users. As a small attachable camera which can be clipped to an everyday pair of glasses, the MyEye 2 can subtly complement the appearance of lenses without the wearer having to resort to a bulky headset to assist their impairment.
In the future, we can expect this technology to fit within the frames of smart glasses which can help to make wearers more comfortable and confident when out and about, and customization opportunities can help them to mix and match their lenses to generate a real fashion statement.
Blending Style and UV Protection
When Melissa Heffernan was moved by the deaths of young people from melanoma as a nurse at Dunedin Hospital, she decided to launch Lissy Clothing, which featured a range of sun protection dresses for women.
As the most common form of cancer in both the United States and UK, skin cancer has impacted the lives of many sufferers.
”That’s why I founded Lissy Clothing,” said Heffernan in an interview with Otago Daily Times. “because sun protection and style should go hand-in-hand.”
Lissy Clothing’s initial lines offered an Italian eco-friendly fabric made from 100% regenerated fibre and ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) 50+ for wearers.
With Heffernan’s vision of combining healthcare and fashion seemingly shared among tech firms and designers alike, we may be on the verge of blending both industries in a more impactful and mutually beneficial manner than ever before.