Currently, the term "wearables" probably makes you think of smartwatches and fitness trackers. That’s about to change.
A new generation of truly wearable technology is coming that will seamlessly blend into the clothes and accessories we already wear everyday.
New York startup
is launching an invisible wearable or "disappearable" named Softspot that will be woven into the clothing you wear. Think bras that monitor your heart rate, hats that measure humidity and pants that count your steps, all automatically uploaded to the cloud.
Moonlab CEO and founder Dr. Sabine Seymour has been waiting almost 20 years for technology and demand to catch up with her vision. The Austrian-born entrepreneur (pictured left) is an avid backcountry snowboarder. Back in the mid-1990s she came up with the idea of a smart base layer. The concept was that the clothing could read biometrics and be able to automatically detect if the snowboarder had an accident or health problem and alert rescue teams.
She actually built a prototype back then, but finally felt it was time to bring her vision to the masses.
“The reason we’re doing it now is because the technology is there, in particular less power hungry sensors, the consumer appetite for wearables is there, and the ability to handle the big data is there,” Seymour said. “I’ve been waiting for a long time for things to align.”
Conductive fibres, printed circuits
You won’t see SoftSpot on shelves, rather it's a plug and play sensor system that will be built into clothing brands like Gore-tex or Dri-FIT.
SoftSpot can be a fabric patch with sensors, it could be conductive fiber, a small printed circuit or even conductive ink all designed to measure biometrics. The sensors can also detect environmental conditions like air quality and UV levels. This data is then uploaded to the cloud via your phone where Moonlab will manage the data and feed back whatever data manufacturers need via an API.
The use case applications are almost limitless — think sports, entertainment, and medicine. “Just think about all the things you do with your body,” said Seymour. “I don’t want to limit it to one single pragmatic thing.”
New Inc. at the New Museum
Moonlab launched in late 2014 when Seymour moved into the New Inc. incubator program in the New Museum for startups in the areas of art, technology, and design. She did some bootstrapping, assembled partners and built a prototype. She had long been a judge at the SXSW accelerator, but this year she decided to enter her business. Moonlab was a finalist in the wearables division and SoftSpot also won the WomenWhoTech pitching competition in New York this week.
Softspot doesn’t have a firm launch date yet, but Seymour said to expect exciting news next year. The next wave of wearables won’t be gadgets, they’ll just be clothes that happen to be connected to the internet.
Images via Moonlab and ThreeAsFour