UK’s fashion newcomer Zappar has only been around for just shy of a year, but is already breaking new ground in the world of interactive clothing. The technology is based on two pieces – the t-shirts themselves as well as a smartphone. When a smartphone equipped with the Zapparel app takes a picture of a Zapparel t-shirt, the image comes to life in various, unexpected ways. A picture of Minnie Mouse transforms into a puzzle. A picture of race car character Lightning McQueen roars away to the track. A picture of a boombox plays a selection of music.
With such innovative technology at work, it should come as no surprise that Zappar was co-founded by computer game industry veteran Kirk Ewing. These shirts are the latest in the broader technological trend of augmented reality. Most augmented reality, at least in the consumer market, is based around smartphones, which are a natural fit to the idea, given their integrated cameras and natural mobility. The key to making it work is having the smartphone identify the specific image in question, which in turn, via the app, triggers the appropriate response content to show the user.
Zapparel products have been on sale in the US since last fall, and they’re currently in the process of rolling out the product line in Europe, South America and South Africa.