An Idea A Day: #1 Smart Hair Ties

Remember last week when I said I was going to pull the covers off my own creative doubt and share an idea a day, warts and all, for one whole week? When I set the start day for today, I didn’t realize how quickly it would creep up on me. But, I set a goal and made a promise to myself so here goes.


Smart Hair Ties

There has been a lot of companies dipping their toes into the water of wearable technology from the Nike Fuel Band, to Frog Design to adidas’s miCoach compatible sports bras.  Brands and companies are racing to put chips into shoes, sports bra’s and bracelets and to tie them up in a neat little app bow. That is all well and good but I, like most individuals, happen to be brand agnostic when it comes to my workout gear. I often mix adidas with Nike and top it off with a Lululemon jacket. I wear Saucony running shoes, not because they are pretty, but because they are the shoes that the Portland Running Co. said were best for my feet and my stride.  The best sports bras for me are not any special brand either, they are some cheap knockoff from Target, and they certainly don’t support a gadget or an app.

Sure brands would love to believe that individuals pick a technology and then loyally wear the associated brand head to toe, but it is just not realistic.  Look around at any gym and you will see exactly what I mean. In isolated cases you might see a girl or guy decked out as an exclusive brand ambassador, but it is rare. Women like choices, personal choices that make them feel comfortable, especially when they are working out. Tying an app or technology to an accessory to something as intimate as a bra, simply might not be the best long term solution for wearable technology for woman.

I have recently been using the Moves App and sang it’s praises initially because it didn’t require a second accessory tucked into my shoe or unmentionables to make it work. Or did it?  On the surface it seemed so convenient to not have to interact with an app and just have my phone snug in my back pocket simply tracking data as I walked around town. However, as soon as I took it to the gym, I realized it wouldn’t always track my strides so effortlessly when I had to set it on the edge of the treadmill because my yoga pants lacked a back pocket. Sure I could get an arm band to hold my phone, but I hate those things. No matter how tight I adjust them the sweat on my arm eventually makes them slide up and down while I run…and it defeated the purpose of not having another unobtrusive accessory. Just like that, the miracle technology I thought I had discovered evaporated for me because of the context I was in. Looking down at my Saucony’s I knew that Nike + and miCoach were both out too. That left one of the smart wrist band options for tracking my workout, but I am not a fan of wearing anything on my wrist when I workout either…back to square one.

I started thinking about other solutions for women. As I glanced around the room trying to identify a common denominator in clothing, I reached up to adjust my pony tail and there it was, the idea…Hair Ties. More that two thirds of the women in the gym that day had some form elastic band holding their hair back  to keep it from sticking to their sweaty face or the back of their neck. The remaining third either had hair too short to have a need or had an elastic band awaiting on their wrist for that moment when they needed to pull their hair back. It dawned on me that this common accessory is one of those less intimate accessories that women wear and the majority don’t care what brand of elastic hair tie it is. Most women with hair longer than shoulder length hair never leave home without one tucked in a purse, gym bag, on a wrist or in their hair. It is a functional accessory that is near forgotten the moment you put them into your hair. They ride along with you on your workout like a silent partner so why not put them to work during that ride?

If someone can figure out a way to make a chip small enough to be embedded into a wearable elastic hair tie that is able to track and transmit your movements to your mobile device it would be the ultimate unobtrusive wearable technology for women. It could even double as a bracelet or wristband for those women with short hair who don’t mind wearing a wristband to work out.  In an ideal world that hair band would be most helpful to an end user if it was cross compatible with multiple brand technologies. Imagine being able to choose which app you want your data to transmit to? This of course would require brands to fully open up the API’s to their technology, which in the short term is unlikely given the tough competition between sportwear brands and their need to make a profit from their own accessories, but a girl can dream.

There are other obstacles with this idea not limited to the cost per hair tie. Hair ties today are cheap and I know I tend to lose at least one or more a week often due to my dog eating them, so the technology would have to be pretty inexpensive to manufacture and or know minor details. The point is there has to be other ways, short of implanting chips in our bodies, to wear our technology without it infringing on our needs to be an individual and express fashion, even if it is workout fashion, in our own way.

I would pay big money for a Smart Hair Tie. I hope it gets made.

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