Smart IoT Tags Coming to 10 Billion Clothing Items in Next 3 Years

With integrated tags, labels and unique digital identities, the products will be able to link with smartphones in a variety of uses.

Avery Dennison, IoT, clothing labels, Evrything, Internet of Things cloud, smartphones

The Internet of things will potentially be able to connect with some 10 billion pieces of clothing over the next three years as part of a newly unveiled deal between label and RFID company Avery Dennison and IoT smart products platform vendor Evrything.

The idea, the companies said in an April 18 announcement, is that by placing IoT identifications in the clothing items, consumers, clothing manufacturers and retailers will gain new insights into purchases and their connections with other products.

Under the deal, more than 10 billion apparel and footwear products from some of the world's largest fashion and performance brands will be made and labeled with "unique digital identities" and data profiles in the cloud over the next three years, the companies announced. The names of the participating clothing and footwear makers have not yet been divulged.

To make this happen, Evrything's Janela Smart Products Platform will help connect smartphones to the clothing and footwear products using the digital tags and labels on the items. The tie-in is designed to enable apparel, accessories and footwear brands to connect digital applications with their physical products, according to the partners.

Using the IoT labels built into the clothes and shoes, the products will be able to "interact with smartphones to trigger applications and services" that connect with consumers, bringing new capabilities to users.

The process will allow brands to become more interactive, while providing personalized, real-time mobile experiences and content for individual consumers and each item of clothing, the companies said. Products will use real-time data analytics in a wide range of ways that are not being done today.

That means that the integrated IoT labels could track product histories, loyalty reward program information, reordering needs for retailers once products are sold and brand authentication to fight counterfeit products, and they could even be used as part of theft protection systems. The IoT tags could also be used to give consumers personalized product recommendations directly to their smartphones as they shop.

"Avery Dennison is offering powerful new value to customers through our partnership with Evrything," Mitch Butier, president and chief operating officer of Avery Dennison, said in a statement. "We can make apparel and footwear products smarter and enable them to participate in digital applications and services, helping to drive new consumer experiences, protect brands' value, and provide supply chains with real-time analytics."

Niall Murphy, the CEO and co-founder of Evrything, said in a statement that the coming digital labeling of 10 billion clothing and footwear products "at the point of manufacture is both a milestone in making the Internet of Things mainstream and a huge enabler for the apparel and footwear industry in particular."

Avery Dennison's Retail Branding and Information Solutions unit will be directly involved in the program.

Avery Dennison already makes product labels for clothing and footwear companies, including Nike, Adidas and Hugo Boss.

In a study released in March, Gartner found that enterprises are still trying to decide how the IoT will fit into their operations, though support for the idea continues to grow, according to a recent eWEEK story. The study found that roughly 64 percent of 465 IT professionals surveyed said they eventually plan to implement the IoT in some way, while 29 percent of the respondents said they are already using the IoT. Another 14 percent said they are planning to implement it in the coming 12 months, while 21 percent said they plan to implement the IoT after 2016. At the same time, though, some 38 percent of the respondents said they have no plans to implement the IoT at all, "including 9 percent that see no relevance whatsoever in the technologies," according to the report. The number of organizations adopting the IoT will grow 50 percent in 2016, reaching 43 percent of organizations overall.