Safety and social distancing norms will drive smart clothing adoption in APAC, says GlobalData

Social distancing has become crucial in preventing the spread of contagious illnesses. Against this backdrop, advanced smart COVID-19 features such as social distancing sensors, sanitization pockets, anti-viral finish, thermometer and an in-built mask are bound to drive smart clothing adoption across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region over the next two years, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Manish Chaurasiya, Senior Technology Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The integration of technology into normal clothing makes a cloth smart. This segment is not only attracting fitness enthusiasts and sports persons but also healthcare professionals to remotely track and analyze real-time body temperature, heartbeat rate, breathing rate and minute ventilation in COVID-19 patients.”

Smart clothing still being a niche segment of wearable technology, multiple start-ups are exploring new use cases and application areas to attract a new set of customers other than fitness enthusiasts, sportspersons and defence personnel. For instance, Japan-based Xenoma has launched e-skin Sleep & Lounge, a smart pyjama especially designed for older people. In addition, the company has gesture tracking e-skin shirt for gaming.

Mr Chaurasiya continues: “A significant number of these start-ups are backed by strategic investors, including leading capital investment firms and textiles companies. Additionally, smart clothing start-ups are exploring new possibilities in the healthcare and medical field. For instance, India-based ReTiSense has developed smart insoles for diabetic foot ulcer prediction, whereas Cyrcadia Asia has a smart bra which can early detect breast cancer by leveraging artificial intelligence technology.”

As Google has been providing smart clothing technology under its Jacquard project since 2017 to companies like Levi’s and Adidas, other global technology giants like Microsoft and Apple are also planning to foray into this growing segment. In late 2019, Microsoft filed a patent for electronically functional yarn, whereas Apple patented health monitoring technology for smart clothing.

Mr Chaurasiya concludes: “The current temporary postponement and cancellation of sports events and supply chain disruptions as a result of COVID-19 could hamper the smart clothing adoption in 2020. With the situation expected to return to normalcy by 2021, smart COVID-19 features support, the emergence of new use cases, and patents on smart clothing technology and resumption of sporting events in phases are likely to drive this segment in the coming years.”

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