WEARABLES DEVELOPMENT

Whether to protect, collect data, empower workers, or enhance experiences, wearables are impacting nearly every industry with immense potential. Priority Designs uses a cross-disciplinary approach to developing wearable devices that puts the user at the center while helping clients innovate in new ways. To develop wearable tech requires a unique mix of specialties: soft textiles, hard goods, electrical components and thoughtful construction. But to the person wearing the technology, it just has to feel right.

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Balancing Critical Constraints for Comfortable, Intuitive Wearable Devices

People range a wide spectrum of sizes, heights and abilities, and wearables must be designed to comfortably deliver the desired function of the device while users are static, or in motion. No small feat. This requires careful attention to fit, sizing, ease-of-use, compliance, and a host of additional critical constraints, but many of these criteria are often conflicting. Navigating these tricky waters requires problem solving, testing, and the collaboration of varied team members.

Priority Designs has built experience in the category over 25 years, integrating soft and hard components with physical + digital interaction. As demand increases for products that sense and share data, and nudge positive behavior of wearers, our electrical + software team members are a valuable part of development that involves connectivity, often in compact, discrete applications.

We’ve developed relationships with trusted manufacturing vendors and material suppliers. We’ve learned how to comply to regulatory requirements, and how to select materials that balance durability, biocompatibility, and cost-effectiveness across a variety of market categories. With each wearable product, our diverse team of specialists pulls in the right people for each task, delivering holistic, thoughtful and elevated user experiences.

HEALTHCARE WEARABLES

CONSTRUCTION WEARABLES

WEARABLES FOR ENTERPRISE & LOGISTICS

FITNESS WEARABLES

FUNCTIONAL APPAREL

MATERIAL SOURCING & TEXTILE DEVELOPMENT

When a wearable project incorporates textiles, the product is built on the foundation of the materials selected. This is where most of the product function and constraints come from and is an important area to place dedicated research.

Textiles have many variables, such as stretch, stitch structure, bio-compatibility, finishes, adhesives (just to name a few!) that can affect the performance of a finished good. Materials are typically not on a shelf waiting to be purchased, and most vendors work on a made-to-order business model. On average, raw materials take 6-9 weeks to be produced and received, so it’s best to think about sourcing at the beginning of the design process to account for these long lead times.

MATERIAL SOURCING & TEXTILE DEVELOPMENT

When a wearable project incorporates textiles, the product is built on the foundation of the materials selected. This is where most of the product function and constraints come from and is an important area to place dedicated research.

Textiles have many variables, such as stretch, stitch structure, bio-compatibility, finishes, adhesives (just to name a few!) that can affect the performance of a finished good. Materials are typically not on a shelf waiting to be purchased, and most vendors work on a made-to-order business model. On average, raw materials take 6-9 weeks to be produced and received, so it’s best to think about sourcing at the beginning of the design process to account for these long lead times.

WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT

When wearables include integration of tech – whether sensors, lights, interfaces, connectivity, embedded systems or medical hardware – our team tests and builds solutions that are appropriate for the application. To avoid disjointed solutions, we work fluidly between disciplines, leveraging the latest materials and concepts with traditional equipment and construction methodologies.

Ultimately when integrating electronic and mechanical components, the solution needs to bridge the functional requirements with manufacturing solutions and the user’s experience with the technology.

WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT

When wearables include integration of tech – whether sensors, lights, interfaces, connectivity, embedded systems or medical hardware – our team tests and builds solutions that are appropriate for the application. To avoid disjointed solutions, we work fluidly between disciplines, leveraging the latest materials and concepts with traditional equipment and construction methodologies.

Ultimately when integrating electronic and mechanical components, the solution needs to bridge the functional requirements with manufacturing solutions and the user’s experience with the technology.

CONSTRUCTION METHOD SELECTION

Soft goods specialists can help navigate which construction and manufacturing method will best fit the requirements or constraints of the project. Often, products incorporate multiple methods into one solution. For example, seamless or knit construction can reduce abrasion against the user’s skin, or compression molded foams can provide protection and support. When designing and prototyping, we have extensive in-house machinery for development including:

CONSTRUCTION METHOD SELECTION

Soft goods specialists can help navigate which construction and manufacturing method will best fit the requirements or constraints of the project. Often, products incorporate multiple methods into one solution. For example, seamless or knit construction can reduce abrasion against the user’s skin, or compression molded foams can provide protection and support. When designing and prototyping, we have extensive in-house machinery for development including:

USER EXPERIENCE & PRODUCT DESIGN

We apply human centered design principles to craft thoughtful user experiences throughout all aspects of wearable development. These include the industrial design of the physical product, the relationships with embedded technologies, and the interaction between users, interfaces and controls. This includes how, where, and when the user will wear the product, for how long, and the entirety of the experience.

USER EXPERIENCE & PRODUCT DESIGN

We apply human centered design principles to craft thoughtful user experiences throughout all aspects of wearable development. These include the industrial design of the physical product, the relationships with embedded technologies, and the interaction between users, interfaces and controls. This includes how, where, and when the user will wear the product, for how long, and the entirety of the experience.

FIT, COMFORT & SIZING

If a product doesn’t fit, or isn’t comfortable, the user isn’t likely to wear it, even when compliance is required. We’ve seen that a product’s fit is critical for acceptance of the device, and getting it right requires a thoughtful approach to the user population and appropriate sizing.

Unfortunately, to size a wearable does not mean you can just use the scale button in Illustrator or Photoshop. To size appropriately requires pattern grading using fashion industry sizing strategies to fit the end user comfortably. Testing wearables with users, refining, and adjusting will lead to a strategy built for success with varied sizes.

FIT, COMFORT & SIZING

If a product doesn’t fit, or isn’t comfortable, the user isn’t likely to wear it, even when compliance is required. We’ve seen that a product’s fit is critical for acceptance of the device, and getting it right requires a thoughtful approach to the user population and appropriate sizing.

Unfortunately, to size a wearable does not mean you can just use the scale button in Illustrator or Photoshop. To size appropriately requires pattern grading using fashion industry sizing strategies to fit the end user comfortably. Testing wearables with users, refining, and adjusting will lead to a strategy built for success with varied sizes.

HARD GOODS/SOFT GOODS PROTOTYPING

Wearables are often mixed with hard good components, created with urethane casting, CNC machining, vacuum forming, or a whole host of other methods. With an in-house shop, our soft goods developers work with prototype specialists to create hard good parts that are combined with textiles during assembly. By layering fabrics and foams, compression molding, soft goods over-molding and experimentation, these teams have developed custom materials or unique combinations to achieve the desired results.

HARD GOODS/SOFT GOODS PROTOTYPING

Wearables are often mixed with hard good components, created with urethane casting, CNC machining, vacuum forming, or a whole host of other methods. With an in-house shop, our soft goods developers work with prototype specialists to create hard good parts that are combined with textiles during assembly. By layering fabrics and foams, compression molding, soft goods over-molding and experimentation, these teams have developed custom materials or unique combinations to achieve the desired results.

HUMAN FACTORS RESEARCH & USER WEAR TESTING

Wearables can be complex systems, and making sure users understand how to use the device safely and effectively; performing all necessary functions as well as donning and doffing correctly, are important objectives. Our degreed Human Factors Specialists perform usability testing with product prototypes at varying levels of fidelity to uncover and resolve any user experience issues before production. For medical devices, our team can develop formative and summative studies in compliance with regulatory requirements.

HUMAN FACTORS RESEARCH & USER WEAR TESTING

Wearables can be complex systems, and making sure users understand how to use the device safely and effectively; performing all necessary functions as well as donning and doffing correctly, are important objectives. Our degreed Human Factors Specialists perform usability testing with product prototypes at varying levels of fidelity to uncover and resolve any user experience issues before production. For medical devices, our team can develop formative and summative studies in compliance with regulatory requirements.

An Interdisciplinary Approach Helps Our
Partners Launch Successful Wearables

Meet the Team

The combination of our people’s unique skillsets is what creates holistic, thoughtful solutions. Meet some (but not all!) of our talented staff that collaborates on wearable tech product development.

priority_designs_stephannie_gandelman

Stephannie Kia

SOFT GOODS DESIGNER

With a background in fashion design, Stephannie brings knowledge of garment and apparel design to wearables. Her work includes sourcing textiles, choosing construction methods, patterning for 3D knitting, and ensuring optimal product fit and comfort.

priority_designs_hannes_hertrich_wearables

Hannes Hertrich

SR. MECHANICAL ENGINEER

Hannes helps connect the worlds of soft goods, mechanical engineering, and electronics in a holistic, cohesive way. Quick to jump in to develop, refine and execute ideas, he bridges disciplines by implementing plastics/ metals/composites testing and quality standards with natural/synthetic fiber and yarn development.

priority_designs_wolfgang_philips_wearables

Wolfgang Philipps

SR. KNIT ENGINEER

Wolfgang is our resident expert in creating and troubleshooting knitting programs for Stoll flat-knitting machines. He also has a plethora of sourcing knowledge for yarns to create various complex fabrics and designs with 3D knitting technology.

priority_designs_kristin_birdsall_4

KB Birdsall

SOFT GOODS DEVELOPER

KB is a soft goods design and production specialist with an expertise in soft goods/hard goods integration. She helps launch successful products across medical, industrial, sporting goods and military applications.

priority_designs_jeff_burger_designer_wearables

Jeff Burger

SR. INDUSTRIAL DESIGNER

Jeff has over 15 years of experience enhancing user experience, comfort and interaction through the design of wearable technology projects in home healthcare, enterprise, and soft robotics. He is passionate about the future of wearables, combining vision for a product’s potential with empathy for the user’s needs and experience.

priority_designs_katie_mowery_wearables

Katie Mowery

SR. HUMAN FACTORS SPECIALIST

Katie partners with our design, engineering and soft goods teams to conduct research studies of wearable devices with a range of product users. Helping recruit, plan, moderate, and report findings, Katie helps provide valuable feedback on a product’s usability.

priority_designs_prototyping_billy_rupe_wearables

Billy Rupe

PROTOTYPE SPECIALIST

Working alongside soft goods developers, Billy helps our team fabricate parts, create new materials, and solve challenging problems while developing the construction of a wearable project. He helps deliver high quality prototypes for our clients that are as close (or better!) than production outcomes.

priority_designs_tony_morgan_engineer_wearables

Tony Morgan

SR. ENGINEER, UX + EMBEDDED SOFTWARE

With hardware and software expertise, Tony helps our team select electrical components that will meet the size, power, cost and functional aspects of the technology. He helps create functional prototypes for iterative testing as well as production design and support.

Wearables Articles From Our Team

3 Things You Need To Know To Develop Wearables

By Stephannie Kia, Soft Goods Designer
Read The Article

3 Opportunities in Wearable Robotics (And What It Takes To Develop Them)

By Jeff Burger, Sr. Industrial Designer
Read The Article

How Digital Knitting Can Stitch a Better Bottom Line on Medical Wearables

By Stephannie Kia, Soft Goods Designer
Read The Article

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