Wearable Electronic – the technology

In our review and outlook of Wearable Electronic, we investigate today the companies that contributed to the recent increase of Wearable Electronic products.

Quite a few companies entered the Wearable Electronic market last year with product launches. Some clothing manufacturers developed their own systems or out-sourced this to their manufacturing partners. Other clothing companies teamed up with companies specialized in providing solutions and know-how in integrating electronic into textiles to enable Wearable Electronic product designs.

It’s those specialized companies we will focus our review today. It’s those specialized companies we will focus our review today. The following 4 companies came up on our radar:

  • Eleksen
  • Fibretronic
  • Interactive Wear
  • Textronics

Textronics has launched a Heart Sensing Sports Bra in early 2006. The solutions Textronic offers are conductive yarns, interconnection between electronic and textiles and various bio-sensor integrated or attached to clothing. Besides the Sports Bra, Textronic has not launched any other commercial product as far as we know.

interactivewear_products.jpg Interactive Wear has dedicated their energy on developing very a small MP3 player with and without Bluetooth and the attachment/integration of this player into clothing.

Their commercialized product was in partnership with O’Neill Europe, the H3.Series (Jacket and Backpack). Very impressive from technology complexity point of view, combining iPod, Mobile phone and Video recording functions. Beside the product range with O’Neill, we are not aware of another commercial product launch with a clothing partner in 2006.

Fibretronic, the third company on our radar, had a more active year and teamed up with different companies to work together on Wearable Electronic consumer products.

fibretronic_products.jpg

Fibretronic’s portfolio includes a range of key-pads and control electronic for iPod. Products launched in 2006 with Fibretronic technology inside are: O’Neill’s H3.Series (the key pads) and the so called ‘Fat Controller’ for a Glove, Burton Snowboards Comms Gear Jacket, Levi’s RedWire Jeans, the Reusch ‘Sonic Control’ Glove and a wireless wearable iPod control unit with Griffin.

A solid range of products. Let’s hope this level of activity will increase in 2007 to bring us more exiting Wearable Electronic product choices.

Last in our review but the absolute winner of 2006 is the market leader and enabler: Eleksen. We have mentioned this company again and again in our reviews, no wonder, this guys are all over the place (world) with their textile sensor and control electronics.

eleksen_products.jpgEleksen has been around for some time now, dating back to 2001 with a keyboard (for mobile phone) but 2006 was the great break through for them. And thanks to the strong technical capabilities and excellent management of Eleksen, we have now so many choices of Wearable Electronic goods in the market.

It would take up to much space to list down all the partnerships and products Eleksen has launched in 2006, just run through most of the products introduced by us over the past year and you get a picture of it.

Eleksen has a wide range of Sensor shapes and sizes to fit for almost every use and if needed, can be custom made. They have a impressive range of control electronics that goes with the sensors. Eleksen’s team must also have a lot of experience by now to integrate quickly and cost effective electronics and control elements into clothing and all kind of Bags. Best of all, Eleksen keeps on innovating and improving their portfolio as we have seen in the recently introduction of the Display Messenger Bag.

Our conclusion and outlook for 2007:
Eleksen is the clear leader and enabler to bring Wearable Electronics to the consumer. We expect and have full confidence that Eleksen will keep on pushing the limits in Wearable Electronics again in 2007. Fibretronic has the potential to catch up but needs to get more active in partnering and extend their product portfolio.

We do hope that new companies with great ideas will join the Wearable Electronic trend, from both sides, technology companies like Eleksen or Fibretronic but also clothing and fashion companies to give us, the consumer, more choice in future on the way we dress ourself in the digital age.

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