Debating the Potential and Future of Smart Clothing and Wearables

At the recent Tech On Deck event hosted by our friends Robert Scoble, futurist at Rackspace, and Scott Jordan, CEO of SCOTTeVEST, from Sun Valley, they had spirited debate with guest Hap Klopp, founder of The North Face, on the potential and future of wearables with clothes, otherwise known as smart clothing.

Scott’s products are renowned for integrating places and spaces for technology in clothing, but he firmly believes integrating wearable technology and sensors into the clothes themselves is not a consumer mass market, except for areas such as sports, health and military, where there are specific use cases.

Another view, as expressed by Hap Klopp, is that while it may take time, there is an infection point where integration of technology into clothing will become more common.

Startups like Hexoskin, OM Signal and Athos are examples of companies with products that are integrating technology for smart clothing.  Each have had early traction and success with use cases in sports and health while pursuing the broader consumer market.

At the same time, the sports and health market itself is expanding as everyone is technically an athlete and patient.  As products reach a price point and accessibility good for consumers, will smart clothing thrive in the consumer broader market?  If so, how long will it take?  Or will instead grow primarily for special use?