Interview with Isabel Herranz
Creativity is the only barrier for IoT
Cutting-edge ideas like the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence have made their way into the textiles sector. In conversation with Fibre2Fashion, Isabel Herranz, researcher, professor and also marketing director of the European School of Business & innovation (Esbiedu), talks about the scope of these technologies and the new applications developed on basis of those technologies.
TT: How has the fashion sector transformed over the last decade? What is the role of technology in this transformation?
Fashion corporations have faced the challenges that were imposed by the market. The industry has reinvented, thanks to technology. Corporations can now reach a vast number of people worldwide using e-commerce, both selling as retailers or selling over platforms. This allows them to have a direct contact with multiple consumers and taking care of their needs and not only selling products, but also telling stories and creating value and memorable experiences. Other examples of technology are artificial intelligence (AI) and big data. They are about managing massive amount of data in an automated and autonomous way to produce intelligence, which obviously affects the knowledge of customers, their preferences and behaviour. This helps companies tailor and personalise product offers.
The e-commerce supply chain is also affected by the use of AI and big data, and it is a challenge for retailers logistics-wise, because customers can now buy anything, whenever and whatever they want. Therefore, methods for delivery and intelligent warehouses have been developed to meet this demand.
TT: How can artificial intelligence be leveraged in the textiles sector?
AI is not a futurist trend, it is real and it is part of our lives already. AI is not only about e-commerce, it evolves the whole textiles approach. It brings a huge potential in every part of the supply chain: producers, intermediaries, fashion corporations and consumers. For example, AI can be used for fibre producers to control their cotton fields, using sensors to know in real time ground temperatures, manage water exposure, etc. Also, AI is used to manage and optimise risk in the supply chain by geolocating products and automated decisions in real time by machines, because those machines have been trained through millions of datasets to take autonomous decisions without human supervision.
Players who have realised the potential and effectiveness of these technologies are the ones that are successful. Early adopters are optimising their resources and creating great value at the last link in the chain, which are the consumers having tailor products in a specific period of time and great experiences.
TT: What is the scope of Internet of Things (IoT) in the textiles industry?
The Internet of thing (IoT) is another concept that has earned a place in retail; knowing and managing product status in real time, connecting things that beforehand would not be connected as a piece of clothing have become subjects of immense interest for textile players. IoT is already delivering an ideal scenario for textile corporations and at the moment no limitations are foreseen. The end goal is to bring the things we use in day-to-day life over a network that can be accessed across the world over the internet. This means every piece of clothing or gadget will be connected without human interaction.
TT: How can IoT be used in fashion retail?
Creativity is the only barrier for IoT. There are multiple uses in this field and it is an area that offers huge opportunities to explore. Business-wise there are new ways of working that will lead to more business knowledge. Intelligent tagging in pieces of clothing to discover customer behaviour is an example of how companies will understand customers and will take better business decisions. Interaction between clothes and us is another use of IoT as a body regulator. Clothes can monitor the user's body and be adjusted to the body's needs. Even interaction between pieces of clothing can be addressed as an example of use of IoT. Clothes could communicate with other clothes or even clothes that are worn by someone else and take automated decisions without involving people.