Thursday, August 17, 2006

An MP3 Player Suit or Jacket?

“Smart” clothes equipped with MP3 players expected to be hit the market later this year. The clothes are part of the Commerce, Industry and Energy Ministry’s project to develop future “smart” outfits that started in August 2004./Yonhap (Photo and caption from MP3 Outfit Heralds the Era of ‘Smart’ Clothes on the Chosun Ilbo online)

This is pretty cool.

It seems that South Korea has officially decided to take the lead in the production of “smart clothes.” Smart clothes are clothes with built in digital music players. That would be nice because I have to say running around with my PDA which is also an MP3 player can sometimes be a pain.

I would ideally like not smart clothes but something that I could just snap onto various clothes and not have to worry about dropping it while I’m out and about during the day. I have to say that for my last formal event I had my gown custom made so that it had a pocket to hold my insulin pump. I won’t hold my breath for research and development on insulin pump clothing, but it’s nice that they’re realizing that it would be nice to have a better way to incorporate technology into our daily lives.

This is great because South Korea already has a nice chuck of the electronics market. However, what’s funny about it is that most folks outside of Korea don’t know Japanese brands from Korean brands. There have been a few times I’ve gone home and discussed a product with a friend and pointed out to them that their beloved cell phone or whatever was made by a Korean company.

SEOUL, South Korea -- Technology-savvy South Korea isn't happy making only MP3 players and the memory chips that go inside many of the more popular models It also wants people wearing South Korean "smart" clothes with built-in digital music players.

The government is backing efforts to launch the digitized apparel by the end of the year, hoping to win a top position for the country as an exporter of such clothing.

"The research and development of smart clothing can't be left up to the market only, because of its high risk. The government has taken the role of offsetting this risk," Hwang Kyu-yearn, an official at the Commerce and Industry Ministry, said Wednesday, declining to elaborate on the government's support to the industry.

The clothing would let people enjoy the gamut of an MP3 player's functions while avoiding the hassles of carrying the units separately. Some devices would have to be unplugged from the clothes for washing.

Since 2004, smart-apparel development has involved a range of research institutes, universities and conglomerates with the active support of the South Korean government. The government even has estimated that the global market for digital clothing could be $7 billion by 2014. South Korea wants more than 20 percent of it. (From BusinessWeek.com online S.Korea wants people in 'smart' clothes)
More articles:
MP3 Outfit Heralds Era of 'Smart' Clothes
Coming soon: 'smart' clothes with MP3 players

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