In our past pieces on tech and the future of retail, we have shown how stores use fancy displays to entice customers, how they track people around their stores, and even how robots can enhance customer service. In this piece, created in partnership with iQ by Intel, we will look at the products themselves, mostly clothing, and how retailers and brands are augmenting what we wear to facilitate shopping as part of a more digital lifestyle.
Clothes that track athletes’ performance are nothing new, but the combination flexible electronics and e-fabrics are opening up a whole new dimension in fashion. Soon we could see touchscreen t-shirts and displays in the fabric of sleeves that monitor everything from heart rate and hydration to ambient temperature and humidity. There are in the works jackets for winter athletes and first responders that could warn the wearer of the onset of frostbite or fatigue, often easy to ignore when engaged in vigorous activity. Even sooner we could see bracelets or watches that tap into the enormous amount of information available around us in cities, with everything from transit times to weather and air quality.
When clothing can monitor the environment and pull inputs from wireless sources, they’ll present a tremendous opportunity not just for health and sports but for retailers as well. Electronically-wired clothing may be able to recognize nearby compatible outfits of the same brand and direct the wearer to certain parts of a store with gentle tugs, or light up in response to offers in-store. If outfits were programmed to electronically ‘fit’ together and provide additional functions or benefits when integrated, it could entice customers to purchase a complete set rather than just one item.
Seems fantastical, but the foundations of this type of technology have already been laid. Some brands, like Burberry, have included RFID-like tags into clothing so shoppers can get more info on an item by scanning it from their phone before buying. Another implementation could have tagged items display complementary purchases on nearby screens or on the shopper’s mobile device when scanned, helping complete a whole outfit. When combined with displays that can overlay clothing on a user’s body, a quick scan could instantly display the customer ‘wearing’ item on a nearby full-length mirror/display. All of these possibilities enhance the shopping experience and heighten the purchase value with all the extra personal information they provide, ultimately easing the customer along purchasing path.
How might embedded technology assist consumers to add a futuristic flare to their garments or help them find lost articles of clothing? Continue reading here at iQ by Intel.
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