If you look back and carefully, analyse how you have spent your last 6 hours of the day you notice that you have had countless moments of interaction with the internet.
Quietly, in the background, your life is becoming increasingly connected and dependent on your devices; smartphones, connected objects, IoT architectures and digital platforms that are silently taking over the cities.
But how are these technological advancements affecting the fashion world? Can technology reach the fashion industry and alter its core and if so, to what extent?
Already signalling profound shifts in the fashion industry, here is my top 5 technologies transforming the fashion industry, finishing line 2020.
1. TECH TRANSFORMING THE FASHION INDUSTRY – 3D PRINTING, MACHINES AND MATERIALS
Continuous R&D over the last five years in the 3D printing industry took us to a point where printing advanced materials such as carbon fibre, nickel alloys, glass, pharmaceuticals and biological substances conductive ink, has become a mere formality.
3D printing is actively used for practical applications in fashion, automotive, aerospace, medical, military and constructions. More recent improvements make it possible to combine multiple elements together and have an already “traditional” 3D printing system outputting them in one build.
Fashion, in particular, shows a massive interest in 3d printing on demand for leather and fur-like materials, or even more advanced materials such as electronic circuits. In fashion, the 3d printing could be used to produce replacement parts quickly for repairs and not only.
2. TECH TRANSFORMING THE FASHION INDUSTRY – THE DIGITAL MESH OF CONNECTED DEVICES
The digital mesh transcends beyond the traditional personal computers and smartphones, encompassing a broad range of endpoints that allow for incredibly complex human – machine interactions.
As the digital mesh emerges, new connection patterns and new ways of communications and cooperations between the devices and humans are created. As the mesh matures, significant developments in AI, IoT, wearable tech, augmented and virtual reality are to unfold.
In fashion, all our interactions with the mesh will be synchronised into a continuous digital experience, beyond traditional boundaries of device, space and time.
The fashion experience of the future will blend physical and electronic surroundings with virtual and augmented realities by using real-time contextual information, mapped on the surrounding environment.
3. TECH TRANSFORMING THE FASHION INDUSTRY – MACHINE LEARNING AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
Machine learning is what makes industrial machines and the next generation of in-store robots appear to possess human-like intelligence.
The future of fashion sees tireless in-store helpers that require no wages, no tea break, able to understand advanced concepts regarding their surrounding environment and more than that, thanks to advancements in deep learning they’ll be able to learn on their own.
The fashion industry in general and the retail side of it in particular already shows a massive interest in how to apply automatisation, robotics and AI to gain a competitive advantage in the long run.
One observation: Smart machine implementation as virtual shopping assistants, in-store robot helpers, autonomous drones and even warehouse robots, able to act in independent manners are not to be confused with advanced AI or super AI.
These relatively simple machines are to replace repetitive, dangerous, low-paid human tasks and jobs, while still requiring human supervision. These machines are not planning to take over the humanity, at least not anytime soon.
However, thanks to ultra-efficient-neuromorphic architectures, advanced deep learning and other pattern-matching algorithms the machines will evolve and start functioning more like us, humans.
Soon, they will “consciously” interact with the digital mesh; the Internet of Things (IoT) endpoints, autonomous cars, wearables, smart homes, connected objects, and even human beings.
Past the apocalyptic prophecies and “end-of-the-world” scenarios, the AI’s primary role is to blend the physical world with the digital realm, feeding on an informational ocean served by multiple sources; apps, devices, transactions, services, all joined in a flexible architecture which extends across the world.
4. TECH TRANSFORMING THE FASHION INDUSTRY – THE INTERNET OF THINGS
The IoT platforms are, in fact, the network of objects, services and apps, the architecture behind the digital mesh. In a fashion context, these IoT platforms will collect and aggregate data from endpoints, humans and connected objects, behind the scenes, feeding the AI with the so much needed data.
To help you understand better, you can see the AI as the brain of the digital mesh, and the IoT as the nervous system that collects and sends the data in real-time for processing.
Consumer data, shopping habits, location, heat maps, trends, times, the IoT provides the infrastructure that controls and coordinates the digital mesh. Like a continuous digital experience, the IoT has the power of transforming the fashion industry beyond imagination: from the garments we wear and the way we’ll be shopping again.
5. TECH TRANSFORMING THE FASHION INDUSTRY – THE BLOCKCHAIN
It is interesting to note that more fashion organisations, leading the innovation movement are already exploring how blockchain, the spine that’s powering the cryptocurrencies could be used as the better alternative to the current financial foundations.
Albeit these efforts are still at the beginning, if successful, the payoff could be profound. Just like the Internet changed the world as we know it, the blockchain technology has the potential to reshape communications and most importantly, the way businesses and deals take place, necessary to a machine to machine situation.
Imagine a scenario where the AI-powered shop assistant uses blockchain technology to conclude a transaction with the company and the autonomous car that has just delivered new stock at one of the brand’s retail centres.