Wearable Technology + Girl Talk with Vestechpro

READ IT IN 7 minutes

Girl. I’ve got ground breaking news.

Have you heard about wearable technology?
Tech + Fashion. Two of the best things.
Throw in health + wellness?! Well now you’ve got my FULL attention.

OMG this is my new fav area in fashion.

So spark{le} was lucky enough to listen in on Wear It Smart, which is a full day conference in Montreal devoted to exploring ground breaking, thought provoking fashion tech.

IMG_0509

To make things even MORE fabulous, we were able to ‘Girl Talk’ with Vestechpro’s Executive Director Mrs. Paulette Kaci.
{full Girl Talk below}

So let’s get into what secrets I have to share with you cause today we have many.

I feel like Canada’s western destinations have had a taste of fashion tech but I want us to enjoy the entire meal. Supersized. Kinda like Montreal & Toronto have been indulging in.

Wear It Smart featured a number of unreal presentations by intelligent individuals and a full day of information.
Below, I’ve summarized, in my own words, my top favs.

“How Wearables Help Prevent Health Issues and Improve Well-being”

IMG_0424

As a Registered Nurse, one of my favorite presentations was by Nick Zamora, Diane Côté & Pierre-Alexandre Fournier. They focused in on how wearable technology is being used to improve health + wellness.

Health issues are impacted by 40% behaviour, 30% genetics and only 10% healthcare system.
So where are you going to invest your money?
This is the question that these three asked. It really got me thinking, especially after they let me know 42% of Canadians are generally unhappy with their healthcare.
Cue Hexoskin. It’s a technology being used to monitor vital signs through sensors in the garments we wear {check out more below in the Girl Talk}.
UHMMM AMAZING. How did I not know this technology actually existed and wasn’t just on last nights Sci-Fi Netflix movie?

They are even creating BioSoles, which are insoles embedded with technology to monitor gait/foot movement, activity, location, identity and shares the data with the appropriate health care & service providers. Clearly a benefit. Especially with use in the elderly population.
They left me with a strong statement,

“Prevention occurs when people are empowered. Healthtech is empowering; take charge of your health”

… and I couldn’t agree more.

Take control of your health people.

 


 

“When Our Clothes Can Talk: Communicating Through Wearable Tech”

IMG_0493 (1)

Probably my fav talk of the day. All things fashiontech.
Tom Emrich dove right in and showed me a roadmap for where fashion of the future is headed.
He explored:

// Athos: Fitness apparel that meaures muscle activity and heart rate all in real time.
// Ralph Lauren’s PoloTech: Literally use an app on your phone to connect to your Ralph Lauren SHIRT and monitor your workout data in the palm of your hand…
// Heddoko: A full body compression suit that tracks full body movement in 3D right on your phone.
// Smart Insoles: Connect to your phone navigation and it buzzes your foot when you need to turn left or right…. Amazing. No more staring at your phone and beneficial for those who are visually impaired.
// NAVIGATE: DYING OVER THIS. Okay so this JACKET, navigates you… Same idea as the insoles but this jacket’s arms buzz when you need to turn and light up to let you know how far to your next turn/destination.
// SUBPAC: Literally feel the music.
// Mimo: A baby monitor ONESIE. It wirelessly connects to your smartphone so you monitors your little ones sleep activity, respiration, body position, and skin temperature.
// Alert Shirt: Ever want to experience + feel what your fav player on the field is feeling? This jersey allows just that. Fans feel what the players feel live as it happens during the game.

My mind is blown.

Clothing that communicates our own feelings is on the horizon. Skirts or dresses that showcase your most recent twitter status. Or shirts that light up different colours depending on your mood. Could that change the way people treat each other?

Tom covered it all. And he left us with an idea that,

“The real big shift caused by wearables is how we communicate with ourselves”

<3

 

IMG_0505

Lastly, check out the Girl Talk below for even more secrets ;)


Girl Talk with Vestechpro’s Executive Director, Mrs. Paulette Kaci:

IMG_0456

*Project Manager Noemie Turcotte was also able to sit in on the interview*

 

Bonjour Mrs. Paulette Kaci, to start off tell us a little about yourself. What is your background? How did you start in wearable tech?:

I have been the Executive Director at Vestechpro for 4 years now. I developed the research center from nothing to what it is today. Originally, I was working at a college, but eventually the college wanted to create a research center in fashion and garments. The minister of education got us the project and the college asked if I would collaborate as well. Shortly after, they were looking for an executive director and I asked, “Why not me?”.

What does Vestech Pro specialize in?

Vestechpro specializes in 4 fields: research, training, technical support and information. Our team consists of 7 full-time employees and around 60 collaborators that we hire on specific projects. Our clients are companies from the fashion and garment industry but also small tech with few knowledge in clothing, garment or fabrics. For instance, we work with designers and manufacturers on improving their products, training their employees or resolve any technological issues, from building e-commerce website to implementing an ERP.

In smart clothing or wearables, we work mainly with small tech companies or engineers that want to produce a smart clothing, have the technology but do not have the knowledge to implement it properly into the garment.  We help them producing the prototype, choosing the fabric and the right fit and commercialize it. We bring around the table all our experts so we can bring the product to life. There is finally a lot of consulting in what we do…

As one of our main focus is to get information, this conference was a good first-step!  Filling out the gap, gathering 2 industry (fashion/garment and tech) so they can meet up and start talking to each other, and ultimately helping companies settle in.

Now, focusing on wearable technology, can you give us a quick description of what that means?:

Wearable technology is basically to put a technical device into a garment. It can be something that is woven into the fabric or inserted into the garment. It can also be watches, purses, hats, shoes, etc, however as a company we focus on garments/fabric.

After browsing a few articles, it seems Quebec is at the forefront of this cutting edge area in fashion. Would you agree? Has it progressed quite rapidly in growth within Quebec?:

Indeed we agree. Montreal has few companies that are becoming quite famous internationally : Hexoskin and Heddoko being few of them. Wearable tech has given new breath in Quebec now that it is international. As Montreal and Quebec used to be center of Canada garment industry, this new «wearable trend» is like a second breath for all our local manufacturers, retailers and designers, an opportunity for all of them to position themselves internationally.  A lot of those companies are starting to listen more to the demand, to open up more to wearables and smart clothing, but there is still a lot to do.

Where can we see wearable technology elsewhere within Canada? The United States?:

Vancouver and few cities on Ontario have growing amount of tech companies, but not too many that specializes in fashion or required garment. The United States is also quite important, San Francisco, New York, Portland are quite well-known. There are few key indicators you need for a city to become a big player in wearable or smart clothing : 1- the presence of tech companies, 2- the presence of garment/clothing manufacturers (strong brand) 3- A decent infrastructure/environment to make it happen, or as we like to call it key facilitators , it includes favourable legislation and support (financial) and of course, a gathering place where they can meet/collaborate together…

Wearable Technology is a very exciting and innovative area. What developments have been most ground breaking thus far?:

A lot of them are secretive. Our most famous collaboration was with  Hexoskin. Most ground breaking developments are so far in health care, security and in the sports industry. The sports industry is big into smart clothing and wearables due to athletes performance : everything needs to be calculated and efficient, data plays a big role… It is also probably the most well-known industry when we talk about wearables and smart clothing. Indeed, as a lot of consumers are following sports or athlete, smart clothing has been beneficing from a tremendous exposure.

This said, we must say that most of Vestechpro urrent work has been done with health care companies. Health care companies have been starting to incorporate a lot more devices into clothing for the security and safety of patients, but also to help and assist doctors and nurses better (and more efficiently) in their daily tasks. These two areas are where you’re starting to see alot more and you will see a lot more in within the next few years.

As we have been there since the start, Vestechpro is in a really good position. Not only we have the ability to help from A to Z,  from producing the prototype to commercialization, but the context has been in our favour : the emergence of technologies, the awareness of consumers, the willingness of companies to innovate and collaborate, the support from our government and from the industry… We are truly at the beginning of a new era, something really exciting!

What is “Hexoskin”?:

Hexoskin specializes in wearable body metrics. One of their main products is a «smart shirt» for athletes or people who like to work out. Hexoskin’s biometric shirt is a portable lab that monitors cardiac, respiratory, and activity data. For instance, it can monitors your cardiac rhythm to make sure you’re training well and not over training. Hexoskin has been quite popularized with the Dufour-Lapointe sisters who participated in the winter 2014 Olympics and now that it is available at BestBuy for consumers.

Do you believe Hexoskin has the potential to drastically change fashion and the way we live/dress from day to day?:

We think so. We think Hexoskin and few others were precursors of a trend that is now applicable to fashion. Soon enough smart clothing and wearables will be become indissociable to sportswear, but also every-day fashion and haute-couture. It already started in Europe, look at London’s last fashion week showcasing wearables for instance.

When it comes to buying Hexoskin, where can we purchase it and what price range will it generally fall within once on the market?:

Hexoskin is currently sold by BestBuy for $400 USD per shirt. It is a customized, well fitted top that cn suit any type of body. As more and more companies are getting onto the wearables market, we wouldn’t be surprised that those technologies or products will become more available for everyone (lower price point)

What other wearable technologies will be unveiling in the new future? Any ideas that you can say? I know it’s super secretive:

Having those wearables and tools talking to each other. As of right now, all those wearables and smart clothing are individually created, due to the particularity of their functions. In a close future, you will have them talking, connecting and exchanging data to one another. For instance, while you talk to your step mom, you will be monitoring your home temperature, your stress level and your cardiac activity via your smart phone.

Apple has unleashed the Apple Watch, which has been a hit. Is this just the beginning of what we are going to see mainstream?:

Yes we believe so. More and more companies will be hitting mainstream so stay tuned.

 

IMG_0421

xxoo Drea Marie

  love it

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *