Our newest report explores how flexible sensors can unlock human potential with better data
When speaking at PSFK 2015 last spring, Amanda Parkes, founder of Manufacture NY, made a bold declaration to the wearables industry. “The tech industry can have the wrist,” she ceded. “I want to take back the rest of the body.” As fiber science becomes increasingly sophisticated and sensors can become embedded into everything from a shirt to a bandage, people can now literally track their every waking (and sleeping) moves. By using this data, we gain a richer understanding of our actions and ourselves. In the 2017 Forecast by PSFK Labs, we explore the possibilities soft and flexible sensors will bring to brands, fitness, and health.
When the quantified self movement began at the turn of the millennium, people were excited by the ability to closely monitor their diets and workouts in order to tweak them to attain better results. While the instruments at the time were clunky, it expanded the ability for advanced tracking from elite athletes to everyday people. Today’s sports tech is much more sophisticated and discreet. The Lumo Run is a pair of running shorts from Lumo’s bodytech line that embeds sensors to monitor speed, distance and movement. With a partner app created in conjunction with Loughborough University in the UK, the shorts can offer real-time audio feedback to improve cadence, stride length, pelvic rotation and form.
While instant feedback is one benefit of being able to track movement, instant adaptation is another possibility being explored with smart clothing. The Chromat Aeros Sports Bra keeps athletes cool as they work out. The bra detects temperature, stress, adrenaline, heart rate, breathing patterns, environmental temperature, social setting and location. If it senses the wearer is overheating, it will open vents to cool the athlete to keep them from overheating to extend their workout.
Wearable Life Science’s Antelope Suit takes the idea of enhancing the workout one step further by incorporating electro muscle stimulation (EMS) to help athletes gain more from their workouts. Wearable Life Sciences claims they can pack the effectiveness of an hourlong workout into a 20-minute session. The material is a synthetic blend that is breathable, antibacterial, and most importantly, washable. Despite the $1,250 price tag, the company says it is intended to help all types of people from seasoned athletes to people training for their first triathlon.
While these examples are mostly centered around fitness, it is easy to see how fiber technology can eventually expand into applications for healthcare using EMS for physical therapy or embedded sensors to diagnose sleep apnea. While the Apple Watch, Pebble, Misfit and others may have conquered the wrist, in future, wearables will be quite literally something we wear like a shirt, sock, or shoe.
The PSFK 2017 Forecast identifies today’s emerging trends that will shape tomorrow’s creative business solutions. By analyzing thousands of content shared on PSFK.com and beyond, PSFK Labs identified 15 nascent trends that will continue to grow and mature in 2016 and into 2017. The full report is designed to inspire designers, retailers, marketers and innovators to build a future where people live, work and play better. Download now.