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Wired for Comfort: Smart garments for smarter kids

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Technology is everywhere around us and is gradually taking its rightful space ON us! Right from smart fabrics to wearer-friendly garments and also organic and eco-friendly textiles, innovations in clothing are happening every single day. Blame it on our brains, but humans are wired for comfort. This is why innovators and entrepreneurs have always looked for ways to make life easier, faster and more convenient. While fashion has made great strides to improve clothing for our everyday lives, recent advancements in  apparel technology and wearable gadgets have gone as far as affecting how we experience our surroundings, interact with others and our bodies, giving the word comfort a whole new meaning.

Smart clothing, wearable spaces, multi-functional designs and responsive sportswear have seen significant development in recent years. And as our ‘real’ lives become increasingly mixed with a virtual existence, many designers have been experimenting and pushing the limits of what is wearable. From bio-textiles and zero waste production, clothing for children is also witnessing technological advancements that will not only revolutionize the kidswear segment but also make life easier for parents!

ORIGAMI CLOTHES

One of the most surprising things about having a child is how fast they grow out of their clothes. UK-based Ryan Mario Yasin noticed the same thing. “My sister had just had a baby, and as a present I bought some clothes, but by the time I had managed to give them to my sister, the baby had already outgrown them,” he says. “This was a massive inspiration for me, and I started to think ‘how can I solve this problem?’”

At the time Yasin was studying at the Royal College of Art in London and had recently spent time in Japan. “I was struck by the avant-garde fashion scene there, with designers like Issey Miyake using mathematical principles to make garments that were three-dimensional, as much sculpture as clothing. I started to think, how can clothing be a dynamic object rather than a static one?” he says.

That was the beginning of , Yasin’s line of origami-inspired children’s garments that grow with the wearer. Yasin used his undergraduate degree in aeronautical engineering to design the garments, which are inspired by both origami and the structure of satellite panels. The garments are made with pleats that give them an auxetic structure, meaning they expand width-wise when stretched lengthwise. His first prototype – one of more than 500 – was a pair of pants Yasin baked in his home oven to set the pleats. They fit both his newborn nephew and his two-year old niece. The invention won Yasin a national James Dyson Award.

A Petit Pli garment can fit a child from about three months to three years thanks to 3D stretchable pleats. The look of the resulting garments is one part Japanese avant-garde, one part medieval armour. They can be shoved in a suitcase without wrinkling and washed in the washing machine without losing their pleats. Yasin hopes the garments can help cut down on waste and pollution, a notorious effect of the textile industry, as well as save parents money. He also hopes they will help give children a mindset of sustainability and reuse at an age when they’re just learning about the world.

“I want to get Petit Pli into the hands of as many people as possible, perfect it and then bring the product to market,” he says. “But more than that, I’m very keen to continue merging technology with fashion and find ways to enhance our human abilities through clothing: our second skin.”

OWLET SMART SOCK 2

A growing number of smart, wearable baby monitors use sensors placed on a baby’s body to monitor things like heart rate, respiration, sleeping position, blood oxygen level, or body temperature, and warn you via your smartphone if anything should fall outside the range of normal. The Owlet Smart Sock uses infrared light to track your child’s heart rate and blood oxygen level (it’s roughly the same tech that’s used in an Apple Watch, minus the monitoring of blood oxygen levels). One can pair a sock to a base station, and then strap the sock to the child’s foot. Pair up the sock to the phone and the base unit, and you get a second-by-second reading of your child’s heart rate and blood oxygen levels. If either dips too low, you get an alert on your phone and on the base station.

The second generation Owlet Smart Sock has all the features you know and love from the original. It uses the same pulse oximetry technology used in hospitals to monitor the little one’s heart rate, making sure his or her sleeping and breathing haven’t been interrupted. Now equipped with features and enhancements like increased Bluetooth range (now up to 100 feet!), an innovative new sock design, an improved smartphone app, and advancements in firmware and hardware, the Owlet Smart Sock 2 represents parent feedback and a continued investment in product design. It also comes in three sizes, charges via a base station and syncs to your iPhone or Android phone to deliver data in real time.

New additions include improved Bluetooth range – up to 100 feet – and better placed sensors so that there are fewer false notifications. It’ll also work with Owlet’s new Connected Care platform, which will help you identify potential health issues like sleep irregularities, RSV, pneumonia, bronchiolitis, chronic lung disorders and heart defects. Innovations in Owlet Baby Care’s technology also mean the Owlet Smart Sock 2 is less likely to give false notifications thanks to a more accurately placed sensor and a more intuitive sock design. This new design offers the flexibility of alternative between one foot or the other, and the updated sock fabric offers a more secure fit while remaining super breathable for baby’s toes no matter which sock size they are wearing. A similar product has been also developed by Neopenda – the smart baby hat. The brand has a vital signs monitor is fitted inside a hat for newborn babies.

It can measure temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate and blood oxygen saturation. It is being developed by New York-based health startup of the same name, founded by and , two Columbia University biomedical engineering graduates.

Up to 24 baby hats can be wirelessly synced, via Bluetooth, to one tablet which will run custom software. The idea is that doctors and nurses can check up on the vital signs of the whole room at a glance and get alerts if any changes in temperature or heart rate,say, are cause for concern.

M&S ‘SMART UNIFORM’

We all know what parents want from a school uniform: clothes that look smart, wash well and cope with the tree-climbing,grass-sliding play that happens in school and out. So, the innovations team at Marks & Spencer have given their entire uniform range added superpowers. From the trademark StayNEW technology to weatherproof fabrics, the brand is here to save time and stress. Whether they’ve been making mud pies or getting creative with the paints, the Stainaway technology (part of the StayNEW technology) makes washing easy and is available on shirts, polos, blazers, trousers, shorts, skirts and pinafores. What’s more, the iron can stay in the cupboard with this brilliant time-saving innovation. It’s heat-activated, so simply tumble-dry and hang up immediately. Job done.

Not just clothing, but even shoes have a hi-tech upgrade. Kids can play to their hearts’ content and still be smart for school the next day in the durable, coated-leather shoes. Plus, clever Freshfeet technology combats the bacteria that causes odour.

Innovations are the yardstick by which customers measure a brand’s success. But more than anything else, innovations are also an assurance that the future will be better than yesterday. And these outstanding innovations are such whose time is definitely now!