Sep 18, 2020

How technology is driving fashion innovation

Blockchain
AI
Fashion
3D Printing
Delilah Kealy-Roberts
4 min
From big data to Blockchain technology, let’s take a look at the innovations that we can expect to see in the world of fashion over the coming years
From big data to Blockchain technology, let’s take a look at the innovations that we can expect to see in the world of fashion over the coming years...

From the textiles used in garment manufacturing to creating a sustainable supply chain, technological advancements are set to innovate fashion in countless ways. For a long time, the processes used in the fashion sector have remained remarkably unchanged. In the coming years, however, we can expect big things! 

As of 2020, fashion generates an estimated $664m revenue, making it one of the biggest industries in the world. Because of this, technological innovations within this sector are set to be nothing less than world-changing and, if implemented correctly, technology in fashion could make an unfathomable change in creating a greener, cleaner world. 

From big data to Blockchain technology, let’s take a look at the innovations that we can expect to see in the world of fashion over the coming years and consider the monumental difference that they are going to make. 

3D printing 

Speaking of colour-changing technology, those working in the exciting field of 3D printing are also currently working on the development of colour-changing fabric. Using ‘photochromic inks’ that changes colour when exposed to certain wavelengths of UV light, scientists are developing garments and jewellery pieces that have the ability to shift between hues. The first success in this field was the creation of a ring that can be programmed into numerous customisable colours.  

As well as colourful innovations like this one, 3D printing is working to innovate the textile industry in many other ways. From accessories to women’s trainers, the possible 3D printing creations seem to be limitless! 

3D printing has been used in the realms of runway fashion for a while now. Think back to 2010, when Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen made a statement with her "Crystallization" top, a geometric garment which was 3D printed from white polyamide. Over the next few years, 3D printing will no longer be confined to the catwalk but implemented on a much larger scale as part of the standard fashion supply chain. 

Novel fabrics

Over recent years, we’ve made some big steps towards more ethical fabric practices. However, new fabrics such as vegan leather are actually damaging to the environment due to their high plastic content. In answer to this, scientists have been developing new novel fabrics, such as lab-grown leather and sustainably produced ‘super-strong’ spider silk. 

Tech giant, Google, is also getting involved in this new era of fabric creation. The Google ATAP (advanced technology and projects) lab is currently working on the creation of touch-responsive textiles that are made from conductive threads. These fabrics are being developed further, and there are even plans for colour-changing fabric development within the ATAP lab. These fabrics will be designed to change colour in relation to moods, settings, or temperatures.

Artificial intelligence 

From customer service to inventory tracking, Artificial Intelligence is already becoming a powerful tool that brands can use to predict trends and get ahead of the game. Virtual wardrobes and automated wardrobe planning tools allow users to get creative with their shopping—improving the user experience while also giving brands access to unique, instant, customer data. 

AI is also set to personalise the world of fashion down to the finest detail. Some brands are already utilising online ’fit engines’ that help users find the perfect style and fit for them. Say goodbye to the ‘one size fits all’ approach—thanks to AI, the world of fashion is about to get more personal than ever before. 

Blockchain

Associated most with the record-keeping of bitcoin technology, blockchain tech is set to revolutionise the way the fashion is shipped, traced, and recorded. Each ‘Block’ within the blockchain is made up of specific pieces of data that store unique digital information about a transaction. This information includes the date and time of the transaction, as well as the monetary value of the purchase. 

In the world of fashion, blockchain technology is an up and coming way in which brands are improving their supply chains. Every movement of a product on a supply chain will be recorded on the blockchain, creating a physical-digital link between each product and their digital identities. This unique link means that fakes will be obvious and therefore counterfeiting can be easily detected. Any attempt to divert goods can also be easily tracked in a blockchain system. 

From sustainability to the empowerment of individuals, technology is destined to revolutionise the textiles industry on every scale. With increased productivity and ultimate user understanding, the world of fashion will be re-modelled over the coming years and, thanks to technology, the end result will be more efficient, greener, and uniquely suited to every shopper out there. 

By Delilah Kealy-Roberts, Mediaworks

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Jun 16, 2021

Amazon Deploys Cashierless Checkout Tech

Amazon
AmazonFresh
Technology
Cashierless
Elise Leise
3 min
Amazon integrates cashierless technology into its first full-size grocery store. Is this the future of retail?

On June 17th, the first Amazon Fresh store without cashiers will open its doors to the public. Instead of queueing up to scan their products, customers will be able to grab items off the shelves and head out the door without worrying about checkout. The store will also have Amazon package pickups, kiosks, and Amazon One payment systems, which withdraw money at the scan of a palm. 

 

Most importantly, this will be the first time that Amazon has launched its “Just Walk Out” system in a full-size grocery store. ‘Do customers like standing in lines?’ asked Amazon Vice President Dilip Kumar. ‘This fundamentally tackles a problem of how you get convenience in physical locations, especially when people are hard-pressed for time’. 

 

How Do Customers Pay? 

When you walk into the store, you can scan a QR code from your phone’s home screen, a credit or debit card linked to your Amazon account, or Amazon One. As you stroll through the aisles and select goods from the shelves, weight sensors and vision cameras will track what you take. Finally, once you’re finished, Amazon will bill your account sans cashier. 

 

Does It Have Any Competitors? 

Startups like Standard Cognition, Grabango, and Trigo have received venture capital investments to pilot similar cashierless technology, but they can’t match the sheer scale of Amazon. Instead, their pitch to retail stores is that they won’t try to outcompete them in the marketplace. For the most part, they pose no threat. 

 

How Did Bezos Get Here? 

 

  • 1994: Invests US$10,000 of his own money
  • 1997: Takes Amazon public 
  • 1998: Expands into music 
  • 1999: Patents “1-Click” checkout system 
  • 2005: Launches Amazon Prime 
  • 2012: Acquires robotics company Kiva Systems
  • 2017: Acquires Whole Foods 
  • 2020: Amasses massive profits during the pandemic

 

Over the past twelve months, Amazon Prime has grown from 50 million to 200 million subscribers. At this point, the company can launch whatever its heart desires. 

 

Where Does Amazon Go From Here? 

Instead of keeping its cashierless technology to itself, Amazon intends to sell it to other retailers. An Amazon subsidiary, Whole Foods may also integrate it into its checkout lines. At the Newark Liberty and LaGuardia airports, several CIBO Express stores will install cashierless systems. And the company’s plans extend far beyond the United States. In South Korea, Amazon partnered with Hyundai to launch the world’s first cashierless department store; in India, Bezos announced that he aims to remake the nation’s retail economy

 

But Amazon will soon pass hands. On July 5th, 2021—27 years after Amazon was first incorporated—Andy Jassy will take over as CEO and Bezos will move on to other projects. Therefore, it remains to be seen what the remainder of 2021 will hold. But if the company continues on its current path, cashierless tech may soon conquer the retail market. 

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