Microsoft Trendwatching: Fashion and Technology


 As you may know from my earlier posts this week, I’m in New York at Fashion Week. Yes, I know. I stick out like a sore thumb in the land of six foot beautiful people but these are the sacrifices I make to bring this blog to you.

I’m here exploring the convergence of fashion and technology – something I’ve occasionally touched on here and you should expect to see more of over the coming months. Externally we’re seeing lots of examples of this trend – especially in the sports industry. LeBron James’ new Nike sneakers feature sensors that tell you how high you’re jumping. UnderArmour’s Biometric Compression shirt tracks performance indicators like heart rate and body position and Adidas launched the adizero f50 miCoach recently and called them “boot with a brain.

But we’re seeing this trend play out in many other ways too. Technology is increasingly a fashion statement so watches, keyboards, mice, smartphones and more allow us to express our fashion sense (or lack of it). Brands such as Nike are adding more and more technology to their lineup and integrating with technology companies such as Microsoft to deliver titles such as Nike+ Kinect Training. Yet more companies are taking the Kinect technology in the form of Kinect for Windows to deliver breakthrough retail experiences such as the Swivel is a virtual dressing room from FaceCake built on Windows Embedded. I wrote about another amazing Kinect project recently from SecondStory and asked whether it could be the future of retail windows. Companies such as Industrial Color are using our PixelSense technology with the Samsung SUR40 to deliver a breakthrough digital light table to fashion companies in the form of GlobalEdit.


As you may expect, we have researchers exploring the field of wearable computing too and past projects on this blog have included the Microsoft Printing Dress, the Wearable Multitouch Projector and PocketTouch. All of these projects look over the horizon at what the next few years of fashion and tech may look like and while you wont find them on store shelves, they do help us push the boundaries of this trend and explore not only the technology implications but the social implications.


Now back to this week, and New York specifically.

We’ve teamed up with Bloomingdale’s — a brand synonymous with fashion — to bring the intersection of fashion and technology to life for consumers. In fact the Microsoft Printing Dress has had pride of place between Chanel and Armani in the Bloomingdale’s 59th Street store. If you’re in the neighborhood stop by and send a tweet with the hashtag #MSBLOOMINGDALES to have it appear on the dress.


The Swivel virtual dressing room experience is also featured in the 59th Street store and 19 other Bloomingdale’s stores nationwide. You’ll be able to try on all manner of outfits, including the Printing Dress.


Of course, the way most people interact with technology today is via the devices they use. Along with our partners, we’re continuing to offer the widest choice possible in the world of PCs as people seek to express the own style. The PCs on the market today and the wave of new PCs arriving with Windows 8 will continue that self-expression. For me, that may mean the new Sony VAIO Duo 11.


It doesn’t stop with the PC though. Just as we accessorize our outfits, we accessorize our PCs with important technology such as mice and keyboards. I use the Arc Touch Mouse with my PC and the new Wedge Touch Mouse and Wedge Mobile Keyboard with my Windows 8 tablet. The latter two devices are stunning works of industrial design and the Arc Touch Mouse is now on sale at select Bloomingdale’s stores nationwide – when did you last see such a stylish mouse being offered alongside the latest fashions?


This trend is playing out in many ways and Microsoft’s involvement spans many angles. We build and sell products such as mice, keyboards and soon Surface. We build platforms such as Kinect for Windows on which others create amazing innovations. In Microsoft Research we look over the horizon at how this trend may play out and what role we’ll play. Part of my role is to help join the dots between these activities so expect much more on this trend over the coming months.

Check out the video footage above to see this week’s highlights from New York and our Pinterest board of Fashion + Technology projects is growing at speed so follow away!