Start-ups developing and designing high-end Internet-enabled smart jewelry will propel wearable tech into a multibillion dollar consumer category. And industrial design guru Yves Béhar (pictured) is all for it.
Speaking to TechMutiny after his keynote at this year’s London Design Festival at the Olympia Grand in September, Béhar applauded tech developers for investing more into their products’ design element. Equally, he added, emerging and established fashion designers no longer see technology as the preserve of gadgets for geeks.
This could see smart costume jewelry become high-speed computers in luxury wristwatches, rings, bracelets or necklaces, the way smartphones became the computer in our pockets.
It makes sense at a time when US investment bank Cowen Group predicts the global wearable devices market will be worth US$170bn by 2020 with the lifestyle/entertainment category accounting for 40%. And, according to research by CB Insights, two of 2014’s Top 10 tech wearable investment deals were for smart jewelry makers Misfit Wearables (co-founded by former Apple CEO John Sculley) and Jawbone, where Béhar is Chief Creative Officer.
But it is the tech and designer start-ups that we can thank for spearheading this new trend, adds Swiss-born Béhar, a TIME magazine Top 25 Visionary based in San Francisco. As an entrepreneur and philanthropist, he set up his company fuseproject to create industrial design products for some of the world’s biggest brands as well as invest in third-party and not-for-profit ventures.
“It used to be that if you were a designer, you had zero chance of raising investment. But designers are building great companies,” he notes. “How they use technology is not about the technology itself, it is about making things beautiful, easy and accessible for the user’s experience.”
The smart mobile designs
The melding of design and wireless technology is inspiring new commercial fashion concepts. “Start-ups can be very dynamic because they don’t normally have an existing clientele to annoy; they live and die by their innovation. But thanks to technology, you’re seeing more designers becoming entrepreneurs themselves.”
And smart jewelry is establishing its foundation today because designers are learning to convert technology into portable consumer-friendly lifestyle choices. “When designing devices, I believe in invisible interfaces; these things should not take over our lives and should not take you away from the moment. They should fit into our lives.”
That trend is summed up by the recent enhancements to Jawbone’s line of UP fitness trackers (pictured below).
Originally invented in 2011, UP was a pioneering wearable that looked like plain plastic devices wearers strapped to their arms to monitor their health by tracking their daily lifestyle activities (including sleeping habits, diets and exercise) via Bluetooth and apps.
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