The best wearable technology seamlessly combines fashion and electronics in a way that reflects consumer preferences. Helen Koo, assistant professor in the department of design at UC Davis, outlines six key areas that make for well-rounded wearable technology products.
1. Durability: Electronic parts should be designed to last, with low breakage rates and components that can be fixed easily.
2. Ease of care: Consumers should feel confident about washing, drying and ironing wearable tech, and any electronic devices not washable should be detachable.
3. Safety: Precautions should be promoted and explained to consumers concerned about hazards, such as electromagnetic waves, water damage and battery explosions. “There are many ways to minimize the electromagnetic waves, and these need to be considered, especially for health care products that target health-conscious consumers, children and pregnant women,” Koo says.
4. Ease of use: Though tech-laden clothing may offer many applications, consumers want the functions to be simple to use with basic interfaces.
5. Comfort: Early models of wearable tech got a bad rap for being bulky and heavy. Developers would be smart to make products as lightweight and as flexible as possible.
6. Sustainability: “As over-consumption and fast fashion lead to increasingly harmful social, economic and environmental impacts, designers must consider sustainability in the design process,” Koo says. Developers who promote sustainable behavior through smart clothing designs may gain a market edge.
And, on a related note, here are eight questions consumers should ask before making a wearable-tech purchase:
- Did I research and compare this product with other wearable technology products?
- Am I going to use this product frequently?
- How long will the battery last? Is it convenient to charge the battery?
- How much will it cost to maintain?
- Is it easy to use? Is it easy to learn how to use?
- Is this product suitable for my lifestyle and my fashion style?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of using this product?
- Will a newer version come out soon?
Check back next week for Russell Nichols’ March feature on wearable tech, “Dress for Success.” Sign up for our newsletter, and we’ll email you when it’s available online.
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