I work at Redox, a startup in Madison, WI that provides the modern API for healthcare. I try to look at where we are currently with technology and tell the world where we’re going. I write my Quick Theories here, send out a popular weekly newsletter, and think nerdy on Twitter.
The world around us is heavily impacted by technology from the cars we drive to the infrastructure of society. Yet, most of us rarely think about advancing one fundamental area of life: our garments. But, that may change with advances in Smart Fabric and fashion technology, turning our clothing into an interface.
Unleashing the Interface
Our cell phones, fitness trackers, smart watches, etc… have all improved our lives greatly. But, not without adding some friction to our daily lives.
Yes, your cell phone allows you to work from anywhere in the world. However, you had to start carrying this boxy thing to do so. It takes up space in your pockets, easily breaks if you drop it, and finds a way to get lost at least once a year. The cell phone brings a lot of friction and unnecessary stress into our lives.
That’s why our devices must leave the confines of their current hardware to remove the friction. Our devices are evolving into everyday items that don’t take up extra space, get lost, stolen, or broken.
One evolution of our devices I previously talked about is digital tattoos that act as a TV remote or fitness tracker, transforming your skin into the next technology interface. It’s brilliant, since we don’t go anywhere without our skin and tattoos have a reputation for not going away. But, let’s be honest, most of us aren’t exactly standing in line to bring that level of permanence to our skin.
The evolution of our devices that is far less permanent and equally as intimate will happen with our clothing.
The Smart Fabric Revolution
Touch-sensitive textiles, which we’ll call Smart Fabric turns our clothes into a computer interface. By weaving conductive threads within materials, Smart Fabric can send and receive touch-based signals very much the same way your touchscreen devices operate.
Google foreshadowed this fashion technology with their initiative, Project Jacquard. Teaming up with Levi’s, they turned a regular jean jacket into a technological interface. Intelligent, capacitive fibers woven into the cuff of the Commuter Jacket allow you to interact with the arm of your jacket to play music, get directions, answer calls, and a plethora of other abilities.
Google’s smart jacket is just one innovation in fashion technology – a future trillion dollar market that will range from jackets and socks to purses and gloves. They can all be innovated upon. Imagine tugging on the strap of your purse a certain way to signal authorities you feel unsafe in a situation.
Undoubtedly, interacting with your clothing as if it were a device sounds complicated and confusing. But, didn’t it take you some time to figure out how to operate your smartphone? It certainly did for me with the iPhone X (I miss my home button). And I know some co-workers who still struggle to use their Apple Watch.
Speaking of which, even Apple has indicated their interest in the feasibility of fashion technology after filing a few patents surrounding Smart Fabric.
Ideally, Smart Fabric is programmed so intuitively that normal gestures align with the desired action. In some cases, Smart Fabric will work regardless of our knowledge.
The Ambience of Fashion Technology
The real possibilities of fashion technology lie in ambient computing, which is essentially computing that happens “in the background”. Ambient computing is an essential part of the data collection process because it works without your undivided attention.
Ambient computing is particularly fascinating when applied to the fashion technology lens because it means we could collect valuable data on our own bodies – the vehicles of life.
Outside of the advanced research done at sports science institutions, we don’t have much data on the average human body and its kinesthetics. We don’t fully understand how it functions in contemporary environments.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, I don’t really want my clothing collecting data on me. That sounds way too invasive. But, think about what it could mean for our health.
For runners, it could help correct running technique by pinpointing areas of excess stress on the legs. Thus preventing future injuries. More universally, this data could be used to help alleviate minor back pain rooted in one’s posture.
Fashion technology could play a major role in helping us live longer, healthier, and more enjoyable lives. Breathable fabrics you never need to wash, clothing with digital displays, and Smart Fabric are all within the scope of fashion technology.
The textile industry is in for an exciting facelift – removing friction by transforming the garments themselves into an interface.
Variety vs. Routine
Friction is all around us from the products we use to the services we subscribe to the behaviors we make. Friction is taking 15 minutes to decide what to wear every morning, the 20 minutes it takes to find something to watch on Netflix, and even the 2 minutes it takes you to get rid of all your junk emails. The list goes on.
To conquer daily friction, you must create routines. For instance, just like Mark Zuckerberg, I wear the same outfit every day. Not the same clothes. I have multiple pairs of the same clothes. But, it allows me to eliminate the friction of deciding what to wear.
Unfortunately, routines are very boring. There’s nothing fun about routine. You go through a routine to get to more important things.
On the flip side, they say variety is the spice of life. In variety, we find ideas and inspiration. Variety brings us new experiences that change our worldview and shake up the monotony. Sometimes I’ll hop on a random bus for fun and see where it takes me.
But, variety is also very unpredictable and filled with friction against our progress. Too much variety can leave us crippled by the endless possibility.
There’s a harmony between routine and variety we all need to find in order to be productive, creative beings.
If you find your days to be too boring. Then you need more variety in your life. If you find your days to be too unpredictable and struggle to get things done. Then you need more routine.
Everyone’s harmony is different. You’ll only find yours by consciously evaluating and experimenting.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s Quick Theories on fashion technology. As always, shoot me an email with your thoughts on the fashion future and eliminating daily friction.
Planes, trains, and automobiles. The three modes of transportation we’ve all used for the past hundred years. But, there’s a new form of travel being added to that roster, the Air Taxi.
It’s not hard to imagine the Earth before humans, but we struggle to imagine what the Earth looks like after humans.
We’d all like to think we know what a “lying face” looks like. Realistically, most of us can’t remember a face, let alone understand all the secrets a face hides.
The iPhone (and the smartphone in general) is on track to becoming the most versatile tool at your doctor’s disposal. The iPhone Doctor is a movement that brings diagnosis and treatment apps to smartphones, making the job of a Digital Doctor much more seamless.
The largest organ of our body, our skin, might become the newest technology interface. Digital tattoos fused with circuitry can be applied to the skin to replace your TV remote and other devices.
There are a plethora of problems we encounter that require audible communication. And when there isn’t someone around we trust to confide in, digital therapy and the computer therapist may soon be there to help.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a misleading term. It sounds like it parallels human intelligence, except faster, all-knowing, and non-forgetting. But, this just isn’t what it means when people attach the term to their innovation.
Some people are born with “the eye”, “the taste”, or “the ear”. Their bodies are more accustomed to a certain sense.
Video storytelling is getting repetitive. Many of the movies today are clearly spinoffs of the movies from our youth. Which is why the future of cinema may hold a new form of interactive video experience where viewers have the control to switch between different perspectives, thus altering the narrative.
There comes a time when every elderly person needs someone to help with chores and errands. While it’s nice to have family there, this isn’t always sustainable for their loved ones.
The planet must produce more food in the next four decades than all farmers in history have harvested over the past 8,000 years.
We can all agree that the legal system is out-of-date and at times very crooked. It’s a system that benefits the wealthy and powerful, while leaving little hope for those with minimal resources.
There really aren’t any professions completely safe from automation or Artificial Intelligence. Most visionaries will advise you to become resilient, moldable, and creative to ensure a job in the future of work.
Whether you like it or not, there’s a digital shadow that follows you everywhere. This digital shadow knows your behaviors, your intentions, your identity.
Have you ever heard something so absurdly crazy that you get that clenching knot in your stomach, fearing it’s actually true?
Soon, there will be more surveillance cameras on the street than there are pairs of eyes! Algorithms are being put in place that turns these into smart cameras – making high-level analyses of your life.
Undoubtedly, we all want to get the most out of our lives. Whether we are working out or just plain working, we have trainers, managers, and leaders to help us achieve our highest potential.
We are about to experience the most unequal societies in human history. Economic inequality has run terror on this world for millennia, leaving the poor with little option to overcome their circumstances.
You have too many options when it comes to choosing TV shows, Movies, YouTube videos, and other video content. Video content and the future of video has reached massive production levels and yet, the time in your day hasn’t increased alongside it.
Even though your brain is the oldest piece of technology, it’s also the next frontier in computing. For decades we’ve interacted with devices through our actions.
Every time you message a friend online, you are forced to choose between dozens of different messaging apps that all serve the same purpose.
We’ve all had that unfortunate moment when you send a playful text message that someone takes too seriously. Other times, you just can’t seem to find the words to convey what you are feeling.
Undoubtedly, we all want to see different parts of the world and connect with new people. Unfortunately, overcoming the language barrier is often too difficult.
Stressed, coffee-addicted journalists are evolving into major media brands themselves, leaving behind companies like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, to cover the news in their own way – free from the political agendas of major media.
We are just a few years away from seeing and interacting with companies that run themselves. In other words, autonomous companies (also known as RoboCorp) operated by algorithms will generate revenue all day long.
Crime investigation is an industry ripe for disruption. Shows like “The First 48” give us a glimpse into how ineffective lie detector tests and interviews can be when trying to place someone at the scene of a crime.
What would our computers tell us if we gave them a voice? We’ll soon find out thanks to Natural Language Generation which gives computers a written opinion on virtually anything.
Intelligence equals power. We are smarter than dogs, therefore we keep them as house pets. Computers will soon be smarter than humans, so they may keep us as house pets (at least that’s what Elon Musk believes).
The war on drugs is becoming digital and I’m not talking about online head shops, like Billowby. Literally, our relationship with the future of drugs is shifting toward digital drugs as a means for medication and recreation.
The same companies that brought you the internet (ISPs) now want to sell your information and squander any remaining digital privacy you have.
Google Home and Amazon Echo describe a future where virtual assistants powered by your voice take care of all your online interaction.
Big Data badly needs a sous chef. Someone to come in and prepare all the vegetables and meats so that the head chef can cook with ease.
Nobody wants to live in a glass house. We enjoy our privacy too much. Unfortunately, everything you do online may as well exist in a metaphorical glass house because it is monitored by Palantir Technologies.
Elon Musk is defining the future of transportation with Tesla, SpaceX…and now The Boring Company?! No, not boring as in twiddling your thumbs all day.
At times, it feels like technology is leading us toward a future in which our identities start and stop with a designated number.
Amazon Dash is starting a wave in technology that is tearing apart your phone and making the way we interact with devices easier than ever before.
When you hear the word digital health, there’s a chance that you either conjure up dark memories of visiting the hospital, quickly reach for your wallet to protect it from unnecessary costs, or just think of the word “boring”.
There’s always a trial period that occurs when you make a change to your lifestyle. Imagine jumping behind the wheel of one of Tesla’s autonomous vehicles right now.
In 2016, I left Facebook to put more emphasis on my personal relationships and figure out a better productivity formula. This decision couldn’t have come at a better time because one of my closest friendships was tested this year.
Learn from my mistake, that limiting your creative environment severely stagnates your ability to tap into creative inspiration. This is how I learned: My first piece of writing (by choice, not assignment) was a closure email I wrote to potential investors.
We seek creative communities (and other communities) for identity validation and protection. As far back as childhood, kids try getting noticed by the popular crowd.
You never have to decide between devoting your life to working for yourself or “giving back”. The difference between social entrepreneurship ideas, social entrepreneurship companies, and just entrepreneurs is action.
Life is a choose your own adventure book with too many choices. When deciding your path and investing in your 20s, we have too many options to spend our time.
The common view of sleep is we merely need it to restore our energy after a long day. But, what about its role in the creative process.
While it’s often hard to admit, we all get the shiny object syndrome when developing creativity. Constantly looking for the tool that will make our lives so much easier and our jobs feel like a breeze.
Samsung TVs haven’t changed in 5 years. Cameras look the same as they did in the times of Ansel Adams. Hardware hasn’t progressed at all in comparison to the exponential growth of software, except for the hardware of robotic arms – which a competition called the Cybathlon is fueling.
Organizing your ideas should be like making an abstract expressionist painting…messy. Unfortunately, organizing your ideas in a digital notebook is only hurting your creative process.