From Google glass to apparel with built-in sensory devices, the fashion world is experiencing a transformation towards wearable technology.
Kovert Designs is a fashion conscious company focusing on Wearable Technology by uniting aesthetics and technology. They create ‘Smart accessories’ through the combination of electronic sensors and wireless connections. Formed by Kate Unsworth, Dan Möller, and Fabio Pania, this start-up is based in London (Shoreditch).
This summer they are launching the first 500 units of the “ring”, a wearable and connected device in the form of a piece of jewelry. At first the product will be available only to a select group of influencers in the industry, but a collection of rings, bracelets and necklaces will be available to the general public for the Christmas season and will be on sale at the Kovert website and on Net-a-Porter.
By Spring 2015 Kovert will add additional selling points in all mayor cities and are also planing collaborations with contemporary designers and brands such us ACNE and Rick Owens.
Kate Unsworth, Founder and CEO, took some time to answer our questions and explain her vision to us.
El Fashionista: Walk me through the step-by-step process that you went through to get to where you are today. What was the first thing you did to kick-start this project.
Kate: The idea was born in February 2013 when I was working as a technology consultant. I used to write gadget review newsletters on a weekly basis, and about a six months prior, I had begun reviewing wearables products. There were a number of reasons why I felt Silicon Valley was getting it all wrong, both from an aesthetic design perspective and a mass market usability perspective. They were still in the innovation phase, and hadn’t yet begun to think about interesting use cases or commercialization. I knew from day one that this was the product I wanted to build, I just needed to validate that there was actually a market for it.
I spent five months or so doing market research and focus groups, as well as making sure I really had a handle on the technology required to build a wearables product. What I learnt was that there are a number of people who like me, instead of wanting to add more gadgets to their life (such as the new wearable tech products that were coming to market), actually wanted to find a way of managing their existing gadgets so they were less invasive. In fact, they found their technology somewhat annoying and constraining. They wanted to remain connected, but without being distracted from real life interactions. I had found my market.
E: We have all heard a lot of talk about wearable technology but we do not have a very clear idea of what it is apart from Google glass. Please explain to us a little about this concept.
K: The concept of wearable technology is not a new one – it’s been around for 10+ years in some form or another. The difference is that now, battery duration and processing power have vastly improved, allowing us to produce much more useful applications (rather than simply inserting LED lights into clothing). Broadly speaking, at this point in time, wearable tech can be divided into two categories – garments or accessories. In the accessories space, the majority of players are focusing on health and fitness, and this is likely the direction Apple will also go in with their “iWatch”. The products tend to be worn on the wrist or embedded into clothing and worn near the chest/back, and they monitor everything from heart rate to stress levels and blood glucose levels. At Kovert Designs, we’re taking the concept in a different direction altogether, we want to build social features, that essentially enable you to live a better life.
E: What is the idea behind the Kovert ring?
K: We want to empower people to be able to take a step away from their mobile phone, so that they can stop being distracted, concentrate on real life and live in the moment. Our consumers are sick to death of being overly connected, and want to snap out of autopilot and engage with their technology only as and when they really need to. It’s about making the conscious decision to incorporate your smartphone into your life, rather than letting it force its way in and dominate it. The Kovert jewelry collection (rings, bracelets, necklaces) connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth. It connects to the Kovert app, which allows you to set different profiles for you to activate, e.g.: “Meeting Profile” or “Dinner Profile”. Within each of these profiles, you can choose the notifications for which you want your Kovert jewelry to vibrate and alert you. The idea is that you only choose the most important notifications to filter through, then put your phone in your handbag and go about your day.
E: What is the ring made of and how does it work?
K: Different precious metals (depending on the collection) and a bespoke ‘tech pack’ with electronics inside (which includes a PCB, battery, bluetooth and a vibration motor).
E: When are you launching the ring and is it going to be available to the general public?, When and where can we buy it?
K: We launch this summer. The first batch will be sold to select individuals only. Those interested can apply to VIP@kovertdesigns.com and state their reasons for being considered.
E: Are you working in collaboration with other brands or designers?
K: Yes – we are currently in discussions.
E: Looking ahead 3 to 5 years, where do you see Kovert Designs?
K: Collaborating with a number of big designers to produce a vast array of beautiful connected devices that inspire people to live a more fulfilling life.