What does your regular day look like? Think over your last 24 hours – what have you done, and how much of this time did you spend connected to information; a service or an app? Each and every day, smart technology is getting smarter and this means we are living in an always on, always connected world – it’s a heads down society.
This is the age where we have the greatest access to technology than ever before, an age where anything we could ever possibly want to know is at our fingertips, within reach, right there. The world is becoming more digitally connected by the day, and yet we are all connecting through the same devices; at least, they all look the same – where the hell is the diversity? In this beautiful, evolving, constantly changing age of digitally connected technology, has creativity been left by the road-side?
Are smartphones really all that?
The device mesh has grown so much that communication between tablets, smartphones and desktop computers is next to flawless. We are seeing significant progress in augmented reality, virtual reality and various wearables. There is significant development in technology, but the most influential innovation from the not so distant past is the smartphone.
Smartphones have become the primary device that everyone uses for, well…everything. The number of mobile (smartphone) users is bigger than ever and we can use them to interact with any other device, such as our TV, AC, PC, etc.
These tools have become our ‘go to’ for everything; they’ve made it possible for us to stay connected at all times. Although most people may continue to find this innovative, I disagree. In the beginning it was, sure, but nowadays every new smartphone is basically the same as the one before it, and doesn’t offer anything new.
The main issue I have with smartphone ‘innovation’ is the limits it is now placing on a modern, constantly connected society. The everyday technology we use is turning us into a society of robots – in the beginning, these devices had a purpose, now they just take up our time, without adding anything new and exciting to our lives. In fact, we check our phones up to 150 times a day and we are living our lives by a series of notifications, alarms, chats, steps, calories, and beeps. The quantity is there, but the quality is dropping.
New players enter the market
Smartphones, being tools for all trades, have led society to adapt to diluted functionality. Prior to the global uptake of mobile smart devices, we had specifically designed products for purpose, yet with smartphones we readily accept lesser versions; with the convenience, the benefit of compromise. However, there is now an opportunity to revisit this and offer discrete objects, technology, devices that trade on qualitative properties.
With the evolution of smart watches, heritage brands are now under threat. The hype of the Apple watch caused a seismic disruption that the world of haute horology had not seen since the quartz crisis in the 70’s. When Apple presented their smartwatch in September 2014, the company tried to incorporate luxury fashion with smart technology. The first watch was offered in an 18 karat gold box, and was initially sold for $5,000. Although the tech society was quite impressed with this brand new wearable, the fashion world was, to say the least, indifferent.
The whole thing didn’t go as well as planned, and most experts and market analysts explained that this happened due to the lack of ‘a touch of fashion’. It is believed that fashion brands could fill in the gap. Although the tech industry can solve practical issues with its futuristic tech solutions, it cannot attract the fashion lovers. These products need those emotional and aesthetic traits, which can perhaps only be provided by the big designer brands.
With the rise of newer, smarter, wearable tech, the fashion world is now presented with an opportunity to fight back by putting the ‘wear’ into wearable and offering consumers a way to personally express themselves that smartphones simply can’t.
Opportunity for collaboration between fashion and tech industries
Fashion and tech have always been entirely separate industries. This is why the collision is a major risk, even though there is a lot of potential from this collaboration. One thing is certain, if these fashion vs tech obstacles are to be surpassed, both sides need to cooperate. Apple and the other tech leaders will have to include the expertise of the world’s biggest fashion houses in their business plans.
The same thing applies for the other side; if the designers want a piece of the wearable technology pie, they will need the expertise and technology the tech industry has. The possibilities are great and the only thing that keeps this multi-billion market still predominately closed is the fact that both sides haven’t been able to come to an agreement.
As consumers are starting to lose interest in brand new smartphones, it is the collaboration between tech and fashion that remains the elephant in the room. The latest fashion trends need to come together with the latest tech trends. Only time will tell whether or not these two sides will join forces and bring us something truly deserving of our attention.
Adam Birchall is an international business development specialist and intelligence & insights advisor in the technology sector. He has held senior technology strategy, product development and m-commerce roles with Barclays and Nokia; he is a technology thought leader and is a sought-after speaker at conferences and industry events.