Smart fashion versus not-so-smart Apple

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This week’s [retail bytes] dives into Fest-tech Part 2, as we are repacking for the next wave of festivals all over Europe. Today we talk phone-charging fashion, knicker-delivering drones and anti-surveillance festival gear (so that your boss will never find out that sick day you took was caused by festival-fever, rather than a real fever).

Sunny side up for solar dress: If you are packing for Wireless Festival in London, remember there will be no phone charging stations (again…) so your clothes may have to multitask and double up as a phone charger. The sunny weather forecast means solar power could keep you connected – check out Pauline van Dongen’s ‘solar shirt’ which meshes solar cells with wearable electronics. Given a bit of exposure to direct sunlight, Pauline’s shirt can create about 1W of electricity to juice up your phone for a couple of hours and keep those festival Instagram posts coming. If the phone companies can’t get their act together and solve our charging crisis, fashion will. Go Pauline!

Power to the people: Fun-and-flashy lightweight solar-chargeable backpacks from SunLabz were all the rage at Glastonbury. Originally known as an “activist’s best friend”, the backpack has emerged from Greenpeace’s camouflaged protest crews. Now, with a touch of new, bright colour added on, it has made its way to music lovers and festival crowds as an essential festival camping kit item to keep you powered up for days. Good value, good looking, and will keep you watered as well as powered up, as it contains a thirst-quenching ‘hydration pack’ container. Try it!

These boots were made for walking: Over 20,000 steps or about 5 miles per day is the official average walking distance at Glastonbury – burning enough calories to enjoy a few guilt-less pints of beer EVERY NIGHT!  All this walking and stepping could be also used to generate electricity for your phone and light charger, which Sole Power is seeking to provide. Working with the US Army, this plucky, Pittsburgh-based start-up wants to use that spring in your step with ‘smart boots’, and convert it into a phone power source. The temptation to be self-sufficient in power and with an extra bonus of an embedded location tracker in the boots is just too much so we wish they would just hurry up and take our money!

Fight for your rights (to privacy): Many festival-goers skive off work to attend so if you’d rather not be tracked, an anti-surveillance fashion choice is a must. The festival infosphere can be hungry for your data and privacy-invasive festival tech (see Download Festival and their unlawful use of NeoFace, a facial recognition security system) can be hard to avoid. Fashion is again solving what the government can’t and soon you will be able to use metalliferous fabric to block off the detection of credit card chips, smart phones and other electronic equipment. The magic option to hide under the cloak of digital invisibility is near.

Knickers-by-drone express: Stuck at a festival and desperate for an ASOS delivery of a fresh pair of glam Bluebella knickers?
Amazon.com is thinking about you and just got granted a new patent for a drone-delivered parcel with a shipping label with built-in parachute. We love their thinking but how do we explain to Amazon which tent to aim for? A UK-based start-up has divided the country into 3m x 3m micro squares and given each subsection a Three-Word-Address. There is no need for postcode, street name or number. Simply go to what3words.com, pinpoint your own location, wait for the system to generate your 3-word address and send it to Amazon with your order. In beta now, but we bet it is a-coming for 2018!

Summer sharing is caring: No summer retail events upcoming as we are all off to festivals, but we are still trying to be useful to humanity while camping on the fresh, green meadows of the European countryside. Fashion tech is what we focus on but one area that needs improvement when it comes to festivals is efficient sharing of surplus food leftover after the party is over. It was pretty obvious from the mountains of food left behind at Glastonbury by the ravers that their surplus food could feed many homeless people for weeks. The Data Visualisation team from Sharecity is providing mapping to show where people can donate (and find) surplus food for sharing. Have a great time and use your summer tech for good!