Skullcandy, formed in 2003 with the goal of designing audio player accessories that fit into an active action sports lifestyle seems to me is up to (r)evolutionize the audio accessory business with their new range of wearable technology modules.
The AMP’D Music System includes a 2 watt amplifier, two wearable speaker modules, an iPod and a 3.5mm audio connection cable with a retail price of $79.98
The second system, retailing for $29.95 is a connection module between a jacket for example and an iPod.
The catch on this system: Skullcandy is working with apparel brands like Sessions, Columbia, Spyder to name a few which offer ‘Skullcandy enabled‘ clothing, having a soft keypad and textile wiring integrated in their clothing lines.
The consumer buys these jackets and if he/she likes to use it for iPod control or to spice up a jacket with an audio system, he/she goes to Skullcandy and buys whatever function is wanted …. just like buying a headphone.
Sure there are other modular systems available like CONNECTEDwear or PANiQ which potentially work in the same way: buy a jacket or bag with the respective technology brand inside and select functions/modules as you wish.
Skullcandy has the advantage of having an infrastructure in place that takes care of their core business – high quality audio accessory design and distribution of the technology part and the participating apparel companies do what they do best, creating great looking, high quality clothing.
Transforming a ‘normal’ jacket into technology enhanced clothing is done by the consumer and is as easy as to buy a pair of new headphones.
The good news on all these developments is: soon we will have clothing that has soft, textile keypads somewhere integrated with textile cables running to media pockets, ready to be connected to ‘something’. This feature will become a fixed part of clothing like zippers, buttons or similar clothing features which sometimes have function but sometimes are used for style reason only.
The challenge for companies offering wearable electronic systems will be to define and agree to a standardized connection between the technology ready clothing and the different functional modules. As (technology) history has shown in the past, the highest level of (business) success is achieved when consumer are able to mix and match functions and brands.
‘Have you already activated your jacket?‘ will then become a common term when we talk about clothing.