What’s the difference between “smart” and “intelligent” clothing ?

June 2017

The simple answer is this: “smart” clothing provides a set of data that users must interpret themselves. It’s basically a one-way conversation with a device. However, “intelligent” clothing employs active-response technology, so the garments can interpret data automatically and adjust themselves to accommodate the wearers’ specific needs. 

“Smart” Clothing

Smart wearable today is primarily defined by electronic devices, notably bracelets. Of course, some activewear garments exist as well. Smart clothing integrates sensors into the garment, and the sensors can track a user’s steps, calories burned, sleep rhythm, and stress levels. The garment then sends the information to an app, which users can reference to see what they’ve accomplished. However, it’s still up to the end users to determine how to respond to the data. In other words, if they didn’t burn enough calories, it’s up to to them to assess how to rectify the situation. If they didn’t feel they were sleeping properly, it’s up to them to figure out how to fix the problem.

Coaching programs are now implemented to bring a first step of intelligence but they are more often just a help to better understand the app which is full of data and graphs.

There are some good gamification development, or interaction with friends to show, prove you own performance. But based on several reports of the industry, the average life time of a wearable is 3 months.

Because, overall, smart wearables and smart clothing are powerless to automatically correct issues for the end user. Just makes the user aware of what he or she has achieved like hear during your work out “you did your last km in 4.52 second”. Simply put, the garment or wearable are having a one-way conversation with the end user. Making the user experience not exiting enough!

Today, the best-in-class solutions for smart clothing include HexoskinOMsignal, and Athos.

“Intelligent” Clothing

Given the limitations of “smart” clothing, they are new projects and new products which will be launched on the market soon. Marrying digital platforms, new textile technologies with reactive/empowering zones.

Beyond “smart,” this is the birth of truly “intelligent” clothing. The sensors woven into the garments don’t just track and monitor activity, the empowering zones actively respond to the wearer’s specific needs. No longer are users left helpless with a set of data they must interpret themselves. They now have a garment that interprets that data and responds accordingly to benefit them. No need to look consistently an app, the garment and the wearer’s body are having a constant two-way conversation. Making the wearing experience better, simpler and fully autonomous.

The reason we designed clim8 garments is to empower individuals in cold settings. Whatever the user’s focus—whether using clim8 in the health profession, athletics, military, or even everyday winter commuting—our garments assess the user’s surroundings and activities and automatically adjust its temperature to ensure he or she is appropriately warm.

Moving forward, as technologies designed for other sectors continue to evolve, we believe we can implement them and remain at the forefront of intelligent thermal clothing. For instance, there are many exciting developments coming out of the robotics and exoskeleton industries—most notably from companies such as Ekso Bionics—wherein we now see intelligent implementations that will empower people and help them live better, more comfortable lives.

In sum, intelligent clothing will be available on the market soon, empowering people, especially in hostile settings. For us, it’s about more than just staying warm. Our ultimate goal is to help people to gain the comfort and power to focus better, go farther, and achieve more.