Fashion Innovation Group to Government: Let’s Partner on Internet of Things

The Fashion Innovation Alliance, looking to build a cooperative strategy in developing new clothing technologies, is pushing the federal government to take a balanced approach on regulating the Internet of Things, and it wants to partner with the federal government on a research lab to develop new technologies for clothing.

There’s a good chance that someday the most innovative piece of technology in your clothing won’t be polyester or synthetic down.

To prepare for the future of connected fashion, the Fashion Innovation Alliance—an industry group focused on fashion technology—is calling on the U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to balance the need for creativity and security in creating rules for the Internet of Things (IoT).

“Many fashion tech entrepreneurs and organizations have designed and launched smart apparel and accessories to not only help push humanity forward but also to help make consumers’ lives more efficient, enjoyable, and overall more productive,” FIA founder and CEO Kenya N. Wiley wrote in a letter to federal officials [PDF]. “FIA values the privacy of the consumers using fashion tech products and services, and we recommend that any new policies governing IoT create an environment that supports and advances the ever-growing fashion tech industry without limiting innovation.”

Nextgov reports that the group is arguing for the launch of a public-private partnership to create a research and development lab for connected fashion technologies, akin to the Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles Manufacturing Innovation Hub, a lab launched with the Pentagon’s help earlier this year.

With the research program, FIA would also push to encourage training in STEAM, a variation on the common STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education philosophy that adds art and design education to the mix.

“As fashion tech and the related fields of study continue to merge and expand, there will be an increased need for students and young professionals to be skilled in such areas as computing, art, and design,” Wiley added in her letter. “A learning and development program for fashion tech will help to meet the workforce needs while also allowing students to have interdisciplinary experience in the various fields related to fashion tech.”

Wiley also makes the case that wireless spectrum should be made available for smart garments and that cybersecurity and intellectual property protection should be the main focus of an innovation center.

The strategy of encouraging the government to take a hands-on role, Nextgov notes, differs from that of the software industry as a whole, which has argued in recent months that the federal government should take a hands-off approach to IoT.

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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