Making bearable wearables: Introducing the Wearable Tech Fashion Competition

Hot or not? We’re about to find out.

Every major technology company is pushing into wearable devices, with futuristic visions of tech such as Google Glass, to the usable and everyday gear from companies like Fitbit and Samsung. But like a new restaurant in New York City, many are struggling to find an audience. Why? Today’s bulky smartwatches lack proper fashion sensibility. Heck, some of them are straight up ugly.

Making wearables wearable is one reason people keep asking about this rumored Apple iWatch: The company has a penchant for taking ordinary products and designing the hell out of them, until they become so beautiful and iconic that you simply have to have one. But does it exist? Or will Samsung’s next model hit it out of the park? Who will get there first with wearables?

We’ll know for sure shortly.

In partnership with Nike, Intel, and Project Runway, Digital Trends presents FashioNXT’s first annual Wearable Technology Fashion Competition. The design that wins this competition – and ultimately breaks through in this space – will at last bring fashion, style and elegance together in a complete package, making a must-have for the wearable tech world.

I’ll be judging the competition, to be held during the FashionNXT event October 8 – 11 in Portland, Ore., along with some big names in fashion and technology:

  • Howard Nuk, Head of Industrial Design for Samsung Design America
  • Michelle Lesniak, winning fashion designer from season 11 of the hit TV show “Project Runway”
  • Eden Dawn, Style Editor of Portland Monthly Magazine
  • Russ Stromberg, Account Director of Synapse Product Development
  • Matt Rhoades, Design Lead at Nike
  • Mark Francis, Venture Lead for the New Business Initiative group at Intel

The prize package for the best design includes a new computer system and a $1,000 prize, and the winner will have his or her design showcased on the runway at the event.

“To cross the chasm to mainstream adoption, the technology of wearable products needs to blend beautifully into the essence of the product,” Francis said. “The FashioNXT Wearable Competition is a great way to bring forward new perspectives and innovative approaches from designers and entrepreneurs.”

How to Enter

The contest is open to anyone with a great idea. To participate, submit your design concept online here, including a 200-word description and conceptual drawings or sketches, and a 1-minute video if you’ve got it. No need for 3D renderings, designers – sketches will do just fine.

Contestants are required to submit their design concept by September 5, 2014. We’ll pick three finalists on September 15 — based on fashion forwardness, functionality, and innovation — who will have their designs showcased at the FashioNXT Runway Show on October 9.

Bottom line, we’re looking for wearables you’ll actually wear – the Nike Fuelband is a great example, a smart-looking gizmo that’s as practical and utilitarian as it is beautiful. The Xybernaut Poma? Not so much.

So send in your smart watches, your Internet-enabled t-shirts, your design for the world’s best online sneakers. We’ll pick the best of the best.

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