A Simple Simple Short Shot

Clothing is going to get expensive and hard to clean. How wearables and advertising will collide.

Last week the fashion world went gaga for the dress co-designed by IBM’s Watson.  The supercomputer’s addition to the gown seems to have been the include LEDs — I’m probably simplifying Watson’s role out of naivety but the gown wasn’t that much of a leap forward or something we haven’t seen before. The dress certainly provided some great clickbait for a few days. 

What was missed in all this is the amazing work being done in textiles that really has the potential to alter how the average person views their clothing and technology decisions.  Google Lab’s Project Jacquard (great fashion name) is a wonderful view into how technology will actually intermingle with fashion, technology, and advertising. I find it fascinating and inspiring. I have no doubt that there’s other work that’s being done in this field that I know nothing about, and would love to find out more.  One of the interesting aspects of Google investing in Project Jacquard, is that they still make most of their profits from advertising — so my first question was, “How is Google going to use Jacquard as a marketing and analysis tool?”

I know it’s ridiculous, but a part of me sees a future where people are given clothes for free, because they display ads on them — adwords, display ads, commercials.  You’ll be standing behind someone on the subway and based on the fact that you have an Android phone with your search history, it’ll communicate to the clothing what ad to display back at you. Or Nike shirts (which everyone has) will now become vehicles for full motion graphics — if you have your bluetooth headphones on, you can tune into the sound as well.  Imagine large companies getting to invest in clothing as cinematic-advertising — the subway will look like Time’s Square or the TV wall at Best Buy.

The potential seems almost endless for advertisers, and the scary (or fascinating) part is that most people will happily go along with it. The ability to hone in on people’s emotive and sentimental preferences, combined with knowing heart rates, pupil dilation hello, Google Glasses), and body temperature will give Google (and all advertisers) an advantage on the consumer we’ve never had before. If we think adwords, analytics, and social topic data is mind blowing now, wait until we’re getting biometric and sensory feedback as part of our analysis.

While project Jacquard is a beautiful movement into textiles, it’s also an intriguing view into what the future is going to hold for data analysts, advertisers, and content creators.