The Internet of Things is on the rise these days.
It constantly reshapes the relationship between luxury and technology and the relationship between brands and luxury consumers. According to the internet of things (IoT) market research company Parks Associates, smartwatch sales in Western Europe will exceed 41 million by 2021. Luxury technology, however, is more than smartwatches with a hefty price tag on them. Innovation is the key concept behind luxury tech and IoT is here to back it up.
A few years back, people did not even dream to mix luxury and “smart” together. On one hand, luxury coins authenticity, artisanship, heritage, quality, tradition, style, and passing the test of time without flinching. On the other hand, smart technology means everything is new, experimental, flashy, with a short lifespan (as newer tech quickly replaces older tech constantly).
So how can luxury technology be something to consider as viable? Some brands did not even dream of switching to “smart”, relying solely on their tradition of producing high-end, time-valuable, and time-tested pieces that certainly do not address the tech aficionados, but people who understand lux quality when they see it.
However, some brands quickly understood that they had an entirely new market to approach: the millennials who fundamentally appreciate the core values of luxury – authenticity, quality, tradition, art – but immersed themselves in their fast-paced lives where tech is king.
The Internet of Things Solved the Luxury vs. Smart Dilemma
Luxury smartwatches, for instance, are not something new anymore. The new gold Apple Watch made a fabulous entrance in 2015. To no one’s surprise, it is still going strong today. Another luxury brand that understood smart and luxury go great together was Michael Kors. Receptive to wearables, the lux brand took the path of luxury smart tech and high-end millennials embraced the idea wholeheartedly. It seemed that things had found a new route.
Then the IoT came in. For those who are still not familiar with the concept, the Internet of Things (very simply put) means that everything connects with everything else: smartphones and smartwatches, household objects, personal items, fashion accessories, cars, hotel room services, and so on.
From this point of view, luxury technology was no longer a whim for the rich, famous, and tech-savvy. It became not only extremely useful but also extremely innovative, changing everything from the tech itself to the way brands do business these days. The beauty of the Internet of Things is that it belongs now in items we have never associated with technology, making them better and making our lives easier.
The Intel MICA Bracelet and How We Learned to Love Luxury High Tech
Back in 2014, Intel unveiled MICA – a smart bracelet for busy yet luxury-savvy women. The smart bracelet was but a first step in what would become IoT-based luxury technology. The bracelet came with a GPS chip, 3G radio, AT&T Sim card with data and SMS messages, and integration with TomTom and Yelp. It also packed a VIP contact list and custom quick replies, the time-to-go technology, and many more. The best part of MICA is that it is indeed a superb piece of jewelry: gold-plated metal, snakeskin, and semi precious gems. Intel proved that could be a happy marriage between haute couture and haute technology. From that point on, everything changed.
What Do You Mean by Technology, Exactly?
When we think about technology, we usually think about gadgets and devices, from phones to computers, and from cars to spaceships. However, luxury technology can also take the shape of fashion items, household items, and services among others. Let us look at what the Internet of Things can really do to luxury technology when creative people skyrocket outside the box!
The Internet of Things At Work
Now that you're familiar with the Internet of Things and its relation to luxury tech, let's explore some of the coolest examples to date.
1. The Cognitive Dress by IBM
IBM is not what you would call a fashion brand, but it turned into one for the 2016 Met Gala. IBM teamed up with fashion designer Marchesa and created the cognitive dress: a luxurious evening gown, which lit up in different colors based on the sentiment of tweets people sent about the dress. Social media and public sentiment is an important part of Marchesa branding and marketing strategy, so incorporating IBM technology into a glamorous Met Gala dress was a dream came true for them.
You might consider that this luxury item is not for you. What would its purpose be? As history proved quickly, the cognitive IBM-Marchesa dress went viral and more and more people ordered it for bridal and eveningwear. A dress that can change color whenever you want? This is luxury technology at its best, and we are just at the beginning.
2. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…
Let us venture in London, for a few minutes, and visit a small apartment created by Cornflake, a home-tech company that caters to the high-end consumer. The company wanted to prove that luxury brands could benefit from luxury technology and vice versa. One example is connecting luxury cosmetic and fragrance brands with a smart mirror.
The smart mirror in the apartment acts as a concierge: it offers information so you can prepare better for the day and it allows you to supervise your entire home through a discrete surveillance system.
There are other IoT-powered luxury smart mirrors out there, even if they are not mass-market goods yet. One such model aims to include weather, time and date, commute, reminders, and calendar apps and widgets, together with Fitbit, Uber and Groupon apps. You can control various widgets and apps with an accompanying smartphone. The mirror uses voice authentication to recognize different users in the household. Moreover, the mirror does not fog up, and it resists stains and smudges.
3. The Pen for all Businessmen
People who sometimes take notes on papers, write down contract or business proposal drafts, or scribble on their cocktail napkins hate one thing and one thing only: losing that piece of paper, napkin, or business card. The smart Equil Pen transforms all your handwritten notes into editable files you can store, save, send to others, and keep as reminders. The pen has an embedded app for notes and another embedded app for sketches. Once you wrote the words (or drew the sketch), the pen transfers any writing and drawing on any sort of surface into your iOS device or Mac.
The pen quickly gained appraisal from architects, furniture builders, interior design experts, landscape artists, and so on. It proved that the days of handwriting are not yet over, but they can be better with a simple, slick, elegant gadget that keeps you safe from losing a list or some quick calculations ever again.
4. Connected Clothing
This seems something directly taken out from a science-fiction movie, but it is not. The Internet of Things just became more fashionable last year. We are talking about the Janela Smart Products Platform, the love child of the Avery Dennison fashion brand and Internet of Things platform EVRYTHNG. The Janela solution offers brands the option to embed unique digital identities in all their clothes, footwear, and accessories together with each product’s data profile. All these digital tags are uploaded in the cloud and accessible via smartphones.
So what does Janela do actually? In fact, all your Janela-powered items will come together with their own apps which help you find the items when you lose them in your dressing, learn how to wash clothes properly, look for style tips on how to wear those specific items, learn how to buy a new version of one particular item you love, and more.
The goal is to make all clothing items more interactive, informative and personalized for the consumers. The technology will also help brands to gain real-time analytics and data for product authentication and better supply-chain strategies.
5. Press for Dom Pérignon
The luxury hospitality industry embraces luxury technology and the Internet of Things to a scale never seen before. Forget about some of the most bizarre Japanese luxury hotels where robots meet and serve you. Let us take things up a few notches and indulge ourselves in a Savoy high-end suite and a bottle of Dom Pérignon.
EVRYTHNG’s ‘Web of Things’ cloud Engine powers the Internet of Things at Savoy hotels. Press the connected device in the form of a sleek black button to order a chilled bottle of Dom Pérignon. The bottle auto-magically appears within 5 minutes in your room, making any stay at Savoy the perfect mix between premium old-fashioned luxury and hi-tech luxury. The digitalized ordering of a luxury drink in a Savoy hotel is the reimagination of the traditional, premium experience we expect to have in such a place of wonder.
The Internet of Things is young and has plenty of things to learn from now on.
While luxury technology is an established market, its relationship with IoT is something to explore in the future years. In order to achieve the perfect cocktail between the two, IoT creators and luxury brands need to offer products and services for which customers will deeply care for. According to some specialists, finding the right IoT value proposition for luxury tech items will often times look like a trial-and-error experiment. However, these few examples mentioned above stand proof that the Internet of Things is more than just better control over our lives, safety, and household items.
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