The world today lives in fear of technology taking over—parents complain of their kids being glued to their electronics, websites and advertisements can be tailored to your preferences and location in real-time, and sci-fi movies depict robots whose artificial intelligence is dangerously self-aware. The introduction of “wearable tech,” accessories with electronic capabilities, represents a shift toward compromise: items that both serve to be both functional and convenient, like the introduction of the hotly-marketed Apple Watch or Disney‘s $1 billion investment in the creation and integration of all-access “MagicBands” in their Disney World park in Orlando.
However, as wearable tech becomes more commonplace, functionality and convenience are simply not sufficient selling points by themselves anymore. Now more than ever, as exemplified by brands like Apple and Tesla, there is heavy emphasis on gorgeous product design, and companies are quickly learning to capitalize on it. While wearable tech has existed since the 1961 development of an accessory that helped gamblers cheat at casino games, the trend of marrying fashion and technology has only recently emerged. Designers have now begun releasing their own lines of accessories for the tech-savvy, like Rebecca Minkoff‘s line of wearable tech—mobile phone chargers and notification chips disguised as normal bracelets—at New York Fashion week this past spring, or French designer Pauline Deltour‘s “Fine” collection of tech accessories, which include a Bluetooth speaker, portable phone charger, and USB keyring that are designed to mimic the beautiful designs of early 20th century Parisian vanity objects.
The key to the success of these items, it seems, is not necessarily the introduction of a new device, but instead seamless integration. Consumers have demonstrated an interest in devices that keep them connected, but are aesthetically appealing as well. A demand for consumer electronics with a degree of artistry has driven the creation of things like Ringly, a cocktail ring that alerts the wearer of push notifications on their phone, or Cuff, a bracelet that doubles as an emergency signal. These companies advertise their products as “wearable tech that you want to wear,” desirable for fans of technology that find devices like Google Glass lacking in style, and bringing new meaning to the words “by design.”
What Sparks Our Fire: Companies that are dedicated to both purpose and beauty, making “wearable tech” truly wearable