Wearable Technology – Is this The New Frontier for Digital Luxury?

Published on 13th, February 2014

A new buzz word has emerged in the digital luxury arena, and no, it is not f-commerce neither is it shoppable videos. Wearable Technology, an idea that would have been unthinkable in luxury before the emergence of the Goggle glasses, the Samsung 3G watch and other notable products, has become the buzz word in the digital luxury domain. Touted as the future of consumer electronics, wearable technology objects are going both mainstream and niche at the same time.

Although this may come as a surprise, particularly in the context of the nonconforming nature of luxury and its unflinching attachment to the strong values of heritage and tradition, wearable technology, or “Techcessories” as we have labelled it at Luxe Corp, has a legitimate place in the luxury sector. In today’s world of hyper-connectivity, instant information access and search for immediate gratification it is only natural that the expectations of luxury consumers from the brands they love should extend to technology-based products. Who wouldn’t want a bag that unzips itself with the help of a sensor? Or a shoe that helps the wearer find their way in a strange city? Or a watch that they can give errands to run for them, by talking to it?

Some luxury brands whose dose of audaciousness may be higher than others have actually ventures into the domain of Techcessories. Dunhill immediately comes to mind with the creation of its Biometric Wallet who was a fusion of aesthetic appeal and tech-saviness. The wallet, made of carbon-fibre opens only with the touch of the owner’s fingerprint. Additional security is provided through the Bluetooth enabler that connects with the owner’s mobile phone and sets off an alarm if the wallet and its owner (as well as the mobile phone) are separated by more than five meters. The wallet is considered to be “virtually indestructible”, and even if you don’t agree, it can firmly be asserted that the features and functions are useful.

A New Consumer Consciousness

Change in luxury has always been driven by consumers. A look back at the last ten years is a testament to this, as the majority of luxury companies, particularly in fashion and accessories, were literally forced into e-commerce because they simply had to respond to the new way of shopping that the wealthy had embraced. The emergence of new luxury markets, the rise in international travel and the accelerated growth these have spurred in the luxury market, also forced majority of luxury brands to re-think their stance on airport retail. Wearable Technology is also spurring this change.<!–nextpage–>

The Rising Stars

Some notable strides are being taken in this direction by companies outside the luxury sphere (not surprisingly), who are smartly applying the codes of luxury in a bid to inject a dose of “desirability” and “dream factor” into their products. They have successfully fused design, function and tech to bring such zestful delectable range of products to the marketplace that they call to mind the success of a certain Apple. It is noteworthy to name them and might I add, to watch this space.

A remarkable example is the Parrot ZIK headset, which is literally the world’s most advanced headset, created by the French company, Parrot whose prestige line of high-end wireless multimedia products is geared towards audiovisual applications bearing the hallmark of renowned designers. Packed with features that can make both a geek and a modern day fashionista spin with pleasure, the award-winning product demonstrates striking design by Philippe Starck made of noble materials including yellow, pink and white gold. It is powered by breakthrough technologies that include sleek surround sound, wireless connection via Bluetooth, touch-activated control panel functionality through simple swipe movements of the finger and near-field tech, just to name a few.

Another noteworthy example is the Italian brand I’m Watch, which presents itself as the world’s first real smartwatch. Offering a range of design-enhanced watches that connect to devices via Bluetooth, the watches are able to receivephone calls, SMS, e-mails, notifications and any app directly onthe wrist of the wearer.

The American brand Pebble Watch also follows a similar path by bringing critical apps, notifications and access to the most important lifestyle features. Offering a refined collection of watches made of stainless steel and Corning glass, Pebble also boasts a line-up of features including thousands of apps that double as a Life Manager, tracking everything from sports, meetings, projects, travel, music and even diet; watch faces that enable the customization of the watches; and the ability to go for up to seven days without needing to be recharged.

Others are the June Bracelet from American company Netatmo, a chic wrist band that come in gold, gumetal and platinum, which doubles as a sensor, synchronizes with an app to inform wearers of the level of their sun exposure through a UV index and gives them advice ranging from the need for sunglasses, hats and when to apply sunscreen; and the Sensory Fiction wearable book, a small device which uses effects such as ambient lighting, vibration, temperature and compression to produce physical sensations that represent settings and emotions described in a story. How about that for a luxury brand’s catalogue?

In this new exciting order of a parallel digital and physical life being lived by even the wealthy, it is legitimate to ask the question: which luxury brand will be the first to get it and roll out a range of wearable luxury objects as part of its product portfolio?

Like you’re probably doing, we’re watching this space.



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