If you haven’t heard yet, the FASHIONTech™ Africa conference is an event like no other, and is coming to the African continent for the first time. FashionTech Africa is essentially a part of the Threads Stitched by Standard Bank program, however, it is a platform that takes into consideration the opportunity for technology to advance the African fashion industry. Global brands, start-ups and industry professionals will have the chance to engage and in turn, formulate connections that could fuel the growth of the African fashion industry.
In conjunction with this conference is the Hackathon. This is a 24-hour event, running from 16th of April to 17th of April, and will follow four groups, each made up of 3 Threads entrepreneurs, 1 programmer, 1 UX/Visual Design, and 1 industry expert. Each group will be allocated one unique technology to use, from either augmented reality, 3D printing, virtual reality, and internet of things, to create a product applicable to the business world, that solves one of Fashion’s Biggest Problems.
Four tech start-ups will provide each of the unique technologies that will be used at the Hackathon. Below are 10 questions that each start-up answered, to give a better idea concerning what they are all about!
1. What is your technology – explain it to us like we’re a 5 year-old and how fast is the market of your business growing?
Virtual reality. To recreate a physical environment and putting it in an immersive space. It is able to simulate any environment without you having to get there physically. It’s constantly evolving. In the USA it is growing very fast due to the fact that that’s where innovation starts. But also because a lot of business put in billions of dollars to be spent not only on the software but the hardware as well. An industry that’s probably growing faster than hardware can keep up. And for a third world country, I think we are getting there and trying hard to keep up. Social media and internet play a big role in people beginning to educate themselves. It is taking a bit of time but in the industry 4.0 is really about to be the next big thing.
2. What do you enjoy most about being involved in such an innovative industry?
The power of human beings to be able to visualise how things are going to be in the next couple of years. Seeing it become a reality fascinates me a lot. And also people’s response and reaction in absorbing the tech, realising the benefits and getting involved. Nothing beats that.
3. How do you keep up to date with new skills or changes within your industry?
We call it space RND, where we spend a lot of time in front of our computers searching the networks, keeping up to see which companies are always updating their tech and then try to beat the top guy. And also trying to understand what the next big thing between AR and VR would be. Both of these technologies are great in their own aspect and improving on a daily. You also need to know where it is you are going. Take VR for instance, the benefits are endless, you can use it for training, watch movies in it, be in your own world, connect with other people and be whoever you want to be. What’s even crazier is that people are even buying property via VR.
“Research has found that #VR has improved students retention by 70%” – ATL 360 on #ThreadsbySB.
4. What are your goals for the tech start-up?
I would love to see each and every child, each and every employee interested in training gain knowledge from visiting other countries. This is the medium. And for the kids from the rural areas who’ve never set foot in a laboratory or university, to access and be absorbed in one of the best lectures in the world. All without having to buy one single transport ticket but by being immersed in VR. And research has found that it has improved retention by 70%, like when a child opens a book and tries to read and gets bored. If you try to teach a child in VR they tend to retain the information much longer and much quicker. That I find very exciting.
5. What do you think about the merging of fashion and technology?
Before engaging with Fliptin, I hadn’t spent enough time on it. But since I started reading and getting my head around it, it fits in very well. For the fact that I can sit anywhere, put headsets and transport myself into any fashion house and choose that specific item that I want. The beauty is in having to do anything without ever leaving your house for example.
6. How can your technology contribute to the fashion industry?
There are headsets in the markets, but we can design a trendier look. I mean if you want to wear a headset, you don’t want a gothic object on your head. They’ve inspired us to design better-looking headsets, something that matches my shoe, or whatever you’re wearing. I just see it as a cool object to have.
7. Have you been involved in a Hackathon before?
I personally have not but my business partners have been as they have been playing around with robotics. That’s as far as what most Hackathon’s have been for ALT 360 and I never liked attending. But with this one seemingly, is much broader and exciting. It’s got fashion, it’s got tech and I’m interested to see what comes of it.
8. Why did you decide to take part in this Hackathon?
At first, I was really not sold, but after you guys have been persistent and bombarding me with emails that’s when I decided to take part. As a start-up we often receive these types of opportunities but at the end of the day, it’s about putting bread on the table. But after talking to Fliptin, I’ve realised we needed to look into this side of the market as well and push fashion and tech. Although It’s new to us, we’ve seen retailers starting to do it. Like in the USA where the companies are training staff to handle Black Friday and doing so via VR. And by the look of things it gained a lot of attraction and is doing well. So I thought why not give it batch seeing that there is definitely a space for us to play and push our creativity to the next level. You’ll never know until you try.
9. What are your expectations of the Hackathon?
A perfect opportunity for networking and to showcase our work. A chance to understand the fashion industry more. To see how far investors or other companies are willing to go with VR, I’m looking forward to that. As far as expectations go, I do not want to limit myself, I am open.
10. What is one word you’d use to describe your business?