Stylios, G.K. (2000), "What is wearable technology, technowear, technogarments or technoapparel and can it become day to day clothing?", International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology, Vol. 12 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijcst.2000.05812baa.001
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What is wearable technology, technowear, technogarments or technoapparel and can it become day to day clothing?
However difficult it is for the scientific community to accept that wearable technology may soon be part of normal clothing, the pace of technology in electronic miniaturisation and in high tech fabrics negate this skepticism.
Recent articles in newspapers refer to wearable technology in which companies such as Philips and Sony are at the top of the lead. They describe garments which incorporate in their design computers, telephones, music players, etc. as integral parts of clothing. Although for most of us these early prototypes are very crude, unpractical items of clothes, high investment and advertising are set to capture a large number of the youth markets in the next decade or so. The interesting aspect of those developments is the multidisciplinary R&D needed to warrant success. It requires the recruitment of textile designers, electronic engineers, and of textile and garment technologists, all working together in this new area of wearable technology. The feasibility for market success of such garments is split somewhere in the middle. There are those that believe in garments which will need to be parts of computers, telephones, etc., and those that say that technology will never be integrated into clothing. Perhaps what we have to do is to accept that many day to day items such as telephones are becoming smaller and smaller, more powerful and hence more enabling. If the telephone and the computer will be integrated into one item for example and instead of having to carry it with one, why would a garment incorporating it in its design be ruled out as non-practical, provided that the design of the garment and the structure of the fabric have been carefully engineered to be as comfortable as possible.
Despite all the arguments, one can see that wearable technology garments will evolve and will not change from one end of the spectrum to another over night. There will be a transition period where certain styles of conventional garments will start to cater for the semi-permanent accommodation of mobile telephones, palmtop computers and MP3 players. Designs will try to make it easier for those technology items to be carried by people as wearable items and perhaps with some imagination provide wiring and links within the garments so that they are neat and non-intrusive. We would therefore make a distinction between wearable technology or technowear and technogarments or technoapparel, which I would like to introduce and define here for the purpose of clarity. Technowear refers to technology capable of being worn and carried by people as mobile wearable technology articles, for example mobile telephone detachable pockets made out of velcro may fall into this category. On the other hand however, technogarments or technoapparel are garments that have technology items incorporated in their design, which may be undetectable parts of clothing.
IJCST is seeing wearable technology as one of the research areas requiring promotion, and I am encouraging technical manuscripts describing research in wearable technology and/or technogarments to come forward.
George K. Stylios