Hilfiger Adding Smart Chips to Clothing
A few weeks ago, it was announced that famous fashion line, Tommy Hilfiger, intends to release a new fashion line that will have smart-chip clothing technology embedded straight into the clothing. The technology is intended to be used to allow consumers to accrue loyalty points and rewards. These loyalty points will allow consumers to purchase more merchandise at discounted or special promotion rates and can also be exchanged for concert tickets through Hilfiger’s partnership with Live Nation.
This latest foray by Hilfiger is in partnership with Awear Solutions Bluetooth technology and will allow the clothing technology chips to track when and how often consumers wear the branded clothing when connected to Tommy Hilfiger’s Tommy Jeans Xplore mobile application. Hilfiger has said that the idea behind the new high-tech clothing line is to not only increase sales and revenue but to also create a new line of highly visible “brand ambassadors.”
Smart Jackets by Levi’s Add Functionality to Jackets and Phones
This is not the only fashion label to venture into embedding clothing technology into garments. Levi’s Jeans has also partnered with Google to create a line of smart jackets, code name “Project Jacquard,” which will allow consumers to use high-tech jackets to make new uses of their smart phone, and subsequently provide new functionality to both jackets and phones.
Clothing Technology Raises Consumer Privacy Concerns
While the innovation of these clothing technology companies is to be lauded, such strides in technology raise more issues about consumer privacy and data security. Depending on the provider, Bluetooth technology may not always be entirely secure. In the past, Bluetooth technology has proven to be hackable, and experts in the field are concerned about introducing new avenues for hackers to infiltrate consumers’ daily lives.
Moreover, regardless of whether or not the actual clothing technology chips themselves are hackable, the inclusion of data chips in clothing raises more questions about consumer privacy and what kind of personal information the clothing companies themselves may be tracking, selling, sharing, and storing about their consumers.
Regulations are Lacking in Smart Clothing Technology Area
While the European Union has already passed staunch regulations regarding consumer privacy, the United States still has yet to require similar transparency and disclosures from technology companies. As such, it is unclear whether the simple purchase of the clothing signals consent or if manufacturers will tether terms and conditions of data collection to the accompanying applications. Either way, the applications are likely to track personal information that may vary from geolocation to customer emails—all information that can provide hackers with sensitive data.
As such, it is important for intellectual property counsel and brand owners alike to stay abreast of such developments in the clothing technology field. These recent innovations will require the guidance of data privacy lawyers to help provide legal protection to both companies and the consumers alike.
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