Application of Internet of Things (IoT) in Textile and Fashion Industry

Impact of Internet of Things (IoT) in Fashion Industry

Shubham Anil Jain
Department of Textiles (Fashion Technology)
DKTE’S Textile and Engineering Institute, Ichalkaranji, India
Intern at Textile Learner


What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
The term Internet of Things (IoT) is defined as something that surround everything connected to the internet, but widely it is being used to define objects that talk to each other. Simply, the Internet of Things is consisting of different devices from simple sensors to smartphones and wearables that are connected together. By combining these connected devices with the help of automated systems, it is possible to collect all the information, analyze it and create an action to help someone with a particular task, or learn from a process. So basically, IoT involves an entire ecosystem of various tools and services that must come together to deliver a complete solution. This technology has good scope and benefits in textiles and fashion retail companies which helps in better understanding of customers needs and requirements, optimize product assortment and customize recommendations; to improve design, pattern and shape; to have more insights to innovate and many more.

internet of things, IoT in Fashion Industry
Figure 1: IoT in Fashion Industry

Role of IoT in the Apparel and Fashion Industry

1. Health Benefits:
This is one of the most important and major factors that IoT is playing leading role in. Nowadays, smart clothing provides huge scope for assessing and measuring a person’s health while he/she wears these kind of items. From different fashion accessories like smart watches that has features such as calculate heart rate and diabetes, assist with posture, and perform a numerous useful functions, to smart clothes, which include features like ECG as well as a sensor to detect heart rate, that sends information and data to smartphones by opening an app which helps the user in analyzing their health and in seeking any medical advice if required. For people who are working in high-risk occupations such as firefighters, police, military, this kind of innovation become highly useful as the heart rate and other useful functions of the person can be detected and analyzed while they are in high stress and dangerous situations.

2. Perks for Sports:
With sportswear playing an important role in the fashion industry, there’s a great opportunities that sports brands can gain through various technological solutions. With there being a considerable disaster in football data analytics, these Internet of Things (IoT) technology offer highly beneficial information regarding the fitness of players in midway of match. Thus it enhances coaches with insight regarding the performance of their players and also help them in deciding if they need to be replaced or not. Another feature that can prove to be beneficial through IoT in the world of sports fashion is Football boots. Through integrated sensors that calculate the step of each player, coaches get clear idea about the angle and intensity of impact with the ball.

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3. Revolutionizing Retail Outlets:
As this is an emerging technology, it holds a promising outlook. With smart clothes slowly emerging as the requirement, this results into customization of the core of fashion retail, making stores bought and ready-to-wear outfits, a thing of the past. There will be fall in the size of Brick-and-mortar retail stores, making their first and important task to showcase the latest patterns and styles that will be tailor-made for the customer. This technology has huge potential to progress to a point where the wearer can modify any aspect of the outfits they are purchasing. Stores would be able to install smart mirrors, which provides the customers virtual try on facility and also make virtual changes in the case of the length of the clothes, the size, design, patterns, and color before they confirm their order. The technology also assists the customers in designing and developing tailor-made pieces that are one of a kind and which stand out in crowd.

Companies Using IoT in the Fashion Industry

It designs and manufactures soft, flexible circuitry that can heat, light, sense and track data, while simply integrating into soft goods. The LOOMIA Electronic Layer (LEL) is a kind of soft flexible circuit that can be integrated into textiles for heating, lighting, sensing or data-tracking applications. The LEL integrates very effectively with user´s chosen material. Their IP is in several areas such as smooth apparel-friendly connectors, components, custom battery form factors, and e-patterned materials.

LOOMIA Electronic Layer (LEL)
Figure 2: LOOMIA Electronic Layer (LEL)

2. Coded Couture by IVYREVEL:
It is a Swedish-based brand partnered with Google to develop Coded Couture app. This app would track customers activities in order to create a dress. Accordingly where their customer will go, for e.g. fancy restaurant, famous night-club, neighbourhood, the app will recommend to add diamonds, a modern style, a specific color, etc. to the dress.

Coded Couture by IVYREVEL
Figure 3: Coded Couture by IVYREVEL

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In 2007, Eric and James, realized that sensors and wireless technology has huge potential and advanced to a point where they could bring amazing experiences and innovation to fitness and health. So, in May 2018, Fitbit and Google have collaborated. Fitbit will utilize Google’s new Cloud Healthcare API to use this data into healthcare applications, allowing users to have a better understanding of their own health while providing doctors with valuable insights. Fitbit also collaborates with luxury fashion houses like Tory Burch (Fashion Meets Fitness).

Figure 4: FITBIT

It connects to Alexa a cloud-based voice service and provides various features such as to play music, make calls, set alarms and timers, traffic and sports scores, manage to-do and shopping lists, control compatible smart home devices, and more. ECHO LOOK is simply a hands-free camera and style assistant with Alexa that includes style check to get a second opinion on your outfit. Amongst its characteristics, ECHO LOOK permits to see customers from every angle in the Echo Look app, view photos and videos of the outfits, select ones favorites, organize the looks into Collections. It also allows to find out new brands and styles and see what colors you wear most often.

Figure 5: ECHO LOOK

It is a Smart Products Platform in the cloud that gathers, manages and applies real-time data from smart products and smart packaging to drive IoT applications. Currently, EVRYTHNG has been partnered with Avery Dennison RBIS to enable 10 billion apparel items to be Born Digital. Each Born Digital item connects to an intelligent, software brain in the cloud. This means that brands can turn all their products into an owned digital media platform for valuable new insights, direct consumer relationships and smarter business operations.

Figure 6: EVRYTHNG

The speciality of this is that it manufactures and distributes display graphics, labeling and packaging materials, retail graphic embellishments and RFID tags that the various companies around the world use to engage customers and efficiently manage their inventories. In 2016, they partnered with Rochambeau and EVRYTHNG to create Bright BMBR which is a bomber jacket embedded with a NFC chip and a personalized QR code. In 2017, Avery Dennison’s and EVRYTHNG collaborated with Rebecca Minkoff  to launch smart bags. With this the customers can scan the bag and will receive exclusive offers, e-commerce services, private styling sessions with Rebecca, style recommendations, video content, etc.

BMBR (Bomber Jacket)
Figure 7: BMBR (Bomber Jacket)

7. Polar Team Pro Shirt:
Smart shirt comes with smoothly integrated sensors to monitor heart rate and a pocket for player tracking sensor located on the upper back for optimal GPS reception. The second skin fit ensures constriction free movement on the field and also maintains specific body moisture system that keeps players cool no matter what challenge the game throws at you. This types of smart shirt also blocks the damaging effects of ultraviolet rays so players can concentrate and play easily in the heat of the game.

Polar Team Pro Shirt
Figure 8: Polar Team Pro Shirt

Applications of Internet of Things (IoT) in Textile and Fashion Industry

1. Manufacturing Sector:
IoT has potential application in the Manufacturing sector, from the fiber to a finished fabric. By optimizing various blends to detection of fiber characteristics using AI and storing and processing data using IOT will leads to less variations in final product. Now-a-days, IOT has been integrated in spinning and weaving machines that can help in optimizing the process and reducing faults drastically. Inspecting the intermediate processes and automatically collecting data from Blow room to Ring Frame can help in improving the quality, reduce time, reduce man power, reduce paper work, and reduce machine stoppage, etc. This monitoring of data from machine results in real time visibility of the process. Due to this one can get instant detection of machine faults, which help in enhancing the machine life. Similar kind of application can be seen in the weaving sector.

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2. Fashion and Designing and Product Sector:
Virtual digital sampling tools, helps in the development of sample that looks very similar to the finished products and implementing them using modern CADs has results in the reduction of the fabric wastage and has provided a lot more flexibility to the system. In the current scenario, one is just a few clicks from developing an e-product. The huge amount of cloud data, internet searches from customers, and easy and quick availability of recent designs helps in product and design development as per customers need. In future, one can expect, 3D printing and 4D printing to have a huge impact in final product manufacturing sector as well as in fashion industry. Nowadays, automated embroidery machines are used since it provides greater precision, reproducibility, reduces time and human effort in creating embroidery and designs, because of which one can just enter designs in Embroidery CAD and the designs can be obtained accordingly.

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3. Marketing Sector:
The use of Internet of Things has a lot of advantages and scope in the sales and marketing sector for textiles. The main advantage being it provides the effective handling of big data. With better handling of big data, it helps in better understanding of the textile markets and scenario and customers needs and requirements. With better understanding of market and customer, it can help in a better, quick and correct decision making. Even when a company is trying to launch a new product, it can better predict the reaction of customers and also reduce the shelf life of the product. Advertising is also an important aspect that is very much affected by IoT. Google’s local search ads is a major example of such kind of advertisements. Advertisements now target a particular section of people regarding the particular product, based on their searches. For example a person who searches for clothing and textile a lot, will be shown related advertisements.

4. E-Textiles:
E-Textile is an innovative and emerging sector that is expected to grow at a rate of 30.4% as per a survey. This sector has great potential in future; currently it has wide application in medical, military, fashion, eco-friendly, and energy and production sectors. Since majority of the applications are sensor-based, so the technologies like IoT and AR, VR, AI, Cloud Computing can have high impact on this sector in future.

Future of Internet of Things (IoT)
Internet of Things (IoT) will become an integral part of the fashion industry in the upcoming years. As per a TechParker report, designers and brands are embracing IoT technology to push up production and marketing limits. There has been significant development in smart clothing, wearable spaces, multi-functional designs and responsive sportswear in recent years and also had great scope in future. The wide application of Internet of Things (IoT) has helped various brands to create apparels with digital capabilities. Not only to fashion industry, IoT has proved to be one of the best and important tools for the healthcare industry. It will provide huge scope in advanced healthcare facilities to patients, doctors, and researchers. These facilities include smart diagnosis, wearable devices for tracking health, patient management, and many more.

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Presently, IoT in fashion isn’t just limited to the application of wearables such as Google Glasses or smartwatches, but it also involves the stitching of invisible sensors onto cloth fabrics or utilizing interconnected apparels to perform various functions such as notifying the user about the product’s materials, assisting in detecting the product if its lost or even in facilitating style tips. It has reached to the stage where technology and fashion can be combined to develop clothing that can be used to measure heart rate between workouts, where baby outfits can assess a baby’s sleep pattern or where outfits can protect the body skin from any pollution or decay. There is tremendous growth in fashion and retail sector due to which it enhances customer experience, reduce costs and improve overall performance. Currently, the sensors are being used to monitor customer satisfaction, provide supply chain insights, monitor food safety, and track assets and for many more application.


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