"It makes engineering a little bit more sexy," says Sabine Seymour, founder of Moondial, a maker of fashionable wearables.
Buechley, who's made DIY (do-it-yourself) kits, complete with computer chips and conductive thread, for crafting wearables at home, also offers a wearables workshop. Through the program, Buechley's seen a growing number of young girls enjoy learning how to merge electronics with textiles.
Ah, But the Cost
There are challenges to the wearables field, including cost and mainstream acceptance. Return on investment can be low, especially if the technical work is outsourced and in turn, such gear is sold with a high price tag. For example, the average person may not want to spend over $300 on a winter coat, but for those that participate in outdoor winter sports, this sort of price tag is fair for a heat up jacket by Burton. A fair price tag may just depend on personal necessity.
According to Seymour, the wearables field will mature in the next 10 years. However, for wearables to become accepted by the masses, fashion aesthetics will have to change just enough to incorporate the added technology, yet not enough that society won't find the items visually attractive, let alone fashionable.
Kerri Wallace, a textile designer who has made Motion Response Sportswear that incorporates heat-sensitive inks into the clothing for athletes, agrees with Seymour. "As a firm supporter of 'invisible' technologies, I believe for wearable technologies to really succeed in the mainstream, the delivery and final articulation must be seamless and perform, behave, handle and look just as unobtrusive as those wearables without technology (traditional/conventional fabrics, fibers, clothing and materials)," Wallace says.
The public fascination with science fiction can hinder the field as well. Spy gadgets, from the much loved James Bond series, The Terminator , or Get Smart , are exciting in theory, but inventing a device that allows friends to communicate through hats, similar to Smart's "Cone of Silence," is very far off, Orth of Fashion Machines insists. For example, there has been discussion about a flexible Nokia 888 phone, yet the concept was only created for a design contest and no such phone is currently available to consumers.