Wearing your gigabytes

To say that the wearables sector is starting to explode is an understatement.

The wearable economy will be about $70 billion by 2025, according to Carey Kolaja, VP, global consumer products at PayPal. Wikipedia defines wearables as miniature electronic devices that are worn by the bearer under, with, or on top of clothing. Sure, everyone’s talking about the Apple Watch, but there is so much more. To say that this area is starting to explode is an understatement.

Besides the fact that designers like Tory Burch and companies including Under Armour are getting involved in the space, mainstream needs such as putting sensors in football helmets to detect pressure status and other metrics are starting to take root. The potential is exciting.

However, in order for wearables to truly take off, they must meet a consumer need and have market readiness — otherwise they won’t make it.  Kolaja added that the question becomes for the consumer, "What am I getting back for this?"  In other words, what’s the payoff for the consumer?  

For those of us with Fitbits or FuelBands, maybe there is something more we could expect one day than just data on our workout. Could there be a discount on our healthcare plan, for example? Looking for what the consumer can get in return is how the conversation in this space is trending.

While visiting the fashion lounge here at SXSW, several fashion wearable items new to market were on display for conference goers. Items included:

Movo Wave: From MOVO, this wearable device is simple, stylish, and affordable. What makes it different from current fuel bands is that the Movo Wave chronicles steps, distance traveled, and calories burned, and allows users to pair each day’s movements with photos taken in their camera roll.

Thinx: Elle magazine called these "magic panties," and they won the Disruptive Innovation Award at the Tribeca Film Festival.  The product claims to be the first real solution for women with their period. Thinx QualTECH makes each pair leak-resistant, absorbent, moisture-wicking, and anti-microbial.

Altrius: This is a line of jewelry that allows you to step away from the "attention seeking smartphone" (according to the company) for message notifications, and set your necklace to notify you only of important notifications that you pre-define. The jewelry will subtly vibrate.

Stelle Audio’s Mini-Clutch Speaker: A portable wireless Bluetooth speaker, speakerphone, and stylish functional clutch all in one. It offers the best in sound quality and design, and has a built in speakerphone for hands-free calls, opening to reveal a mirror. It also includes a pocket for daily essentials and connects to non-Bluetooth devices via aux-in jack.  And if your phone is running out of battery, it can charge any USB enabled device.

Renee Wilson is chief client officer at MSLGROUP.

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