When Tech and Fashion Collide

Claire Han

Erin Winick and Emily Huber are entrepreneurs and fellow engineering classmates at the University of Florida who are both committed to encouraging kids to become interested in the STEM fields. They combined their interest for science, new technologies, and fashion to create jewelry inspired by science. Sci Chic, an online jewelry startup, was launched in October 2015.

Erin is the founder and CEO of Sci Chic. She manages most of the business and marketing plans. Emily is the chief technology officer and she oversees the technology involved in creating jewelry products. Sci Chic’s mission is to illuminate the fascinating side of the STEM fields by offering the concept of fashionable jewelry that represent science-related topics. For example, some of Sci Chic’s products include necklaces based on the trajectory of the Apollo 11 moon mission and earrings that represent the phases of the moon. Other products represent atoms, HTML code, suspension bridges and circuit boards. All of Sci Chic’s products are printed on two 3D printer, one of which Emily made herself.

Sci Chic’s products are not just about intersecting science and fashion. Emily said they want the jewelry to spark conversations. She want girls to be able to explain the science behind the pieces they are wearing. Erin and Emily are highly involved in outreach initiatives, and some of their profits go toward supporting that. In particular, Erin and Emily produce videos that educate budding engineers on 3D printing and engineering as a topic of study and a possible career path.

The pair want to eventually mass produce their jewelry, along with clothing and other items, that are inspired by all things technology. They also want to expand their outreach and keep producing educational material to showcase opportunities in 3D printing. The women plan to continue working on Sci Chic, no matter what their future jobs are. As entrepreneurs, Emily and Erin are using their love for technology to inspire kids, and especially girls, to become the next generation of inventors.

 

Apple Takes on the Feds

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Emily Han

On December 2nd, 2015, a married couple opened fire in a rented banquet room in San Bernardino, California. In the aftermath, it became clear that the shooting was an act of terrorism, but at the time, no one could have predicted that the situation would lead to a heated dispute between Apple and the FBI.

Following a failed attempt to unlock the attacker’s iPhone, the United States Justice Department demanded that Apple provide the means to get inside the phone. More specifically, the FBI wants Apple to produce an iOS software that will breach key security features on any iPhone.

The software requested by the FBI allows any user to unlock an iPhone in their physical possession. Apple refused this demand almost immediately, and publicly announced that it will never breach the privacy of its customers.

While this may be comforting to many Americans, there are presumably other motivations behind Apple’s decision. Particularly, Apple has a huge business incentive to protect privacy, which has given the Justice Department reason to denounce the company. The Department of Justice believes that Apple’s refusal is “based on its concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy,” rather than legal rationale.

Apple is the world's largest information technology company by revenue. The company has maintained a high level of brand loyalty, and is the first U.S. company to be valued at over $700 billion U.S. dollars. Privacy and security have become part of its brand, especially internationally, where two-thirds of its nearly $234 billion a year in sales are made.

China has recently become one of Apple’s biggest iPhone markets, second to America. However, this was not easily achieved. It took Apple six years to persuade China Mobile, the country’s largest wireless carrier, to finally sell the iPhone. When taking into account the efforts Apple has put into opening a market in China, as well as the abundant profits it is generating there today, Apple clearly has a huge incentive to keep China in check.

Hence, if Apple were to cooperate with the FBI’s demands, major problems may arise on the global stage. China would certainly be interested in obtaining such software, and Apple would have limited ability to control their use of it. As a brand that attracts many of its customers with its innovative safeguards and ensured privacy, this is a situation they want to avoid.

The major issue that concerns the majority of Americans, however, is their right to privacy. Many citizens have showed their support of Apple’s resistance via social media posts. Apple supporters have even held protests in cities such as San Francisco to demonstrate their approval of the company’s decision.

The Bright Future of Tech

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Eli Lichtman

Millennials have been at the forefront of technology’s ascent in our society, as wearable technology, driverless vehicles, and virtual reality have become less of a “wow” and more of a “when and how”. While IPhones, GoPros, Snapchat and Instagram are keeping us entertained right now, it’s compelling to look into the future of technology’s evolution, seeking the gadgets (both small and large) that will be the next major successes. Each of these innovations will play a role in our lives, whether companies in the future adopt them or they simply act as useful devices for friends and kids.

Wearable technology, in a sense, can be a needless duplication of the million devices we have in our homes between computers, televisions, phones, and other gadgets. But for some, it has become absolutely essential in acting as an extension for our constantly connected lives. Having realized this, companies have been producing wearable technology that resonates with consumers. A company that stands out in particular is Fitbit, whose involvement has led its stock on a crazy ride.

As part of the wearable activity-tracking market, Fitbit has a market share of 68% - significantly greater than any other single competitor. In late 2015, Fitbit landed a deal with Target, which agreed to offer Fitbits to its 335,000 employees. This represents the rapid rate at which Fitbit is growing as part of a healthier lifestyle. Fitbit’s stock has been in freefall since the start of 2016, similar to many other companies’ performances in the market. Blaze, the company's new smartwatch product released at the beginning of 2016, was met with heavy criticism because it was seen as a weak effort at rivalling the more established Apple Watch. While slowed production in China has greatly impacted Fitbit’s recent stock performance, it has the capabilities and name recognition to grow consistently, although still in need of more openness from consumers to wearable technology.

Wearable technology is becoming an established part of our lives, yet widespread use of driverless cars may be further away than we think. At the moment, Tesla, led by the infamous Elon Musk, has incorporated the option for self-steering on straighter roads as part of a new update to the car’s technology. Very recently, Tesla’s stock took a turn for the better, due to its prediction that their electric, sleek cars will produce profitable and positive cash flow in 2016 for the first time in the company’s existence. Both Telsa and Google have been investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the long-term project of driverless cars, as they are convinced that this is the technology of the future. However driverless cars pose many obvious flaws. Without a human behind the wheel, the road’s many dangers can be exploited by malfunctioning technology or unanticipatable situations. Driverless cars are something to look out for, but they may become popular later rather than sooner.

Virtual Reality is upon us. Oculus, owned by Facebook and easily the biggest company in the virtual reality space, is soon releasing its Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset. For personal use, the $600 price tag seems a bit steep, but gamers and others are likely to flock to such a unique piece of equipment. In addition to traditional virtual reality, many consumers have seen the simple add-ons to iPhones or videos online that allow a 360-degree view of the surroundings. Simple advances such as these allow everyone to feel as though they are part of the environment that they’re viewing. Three-dimensional printing, another recent phenomenon, is also becoming more popular in mainstream mediums such as classrooms, and even for personal use. In a practical sense, companies can also use 3D printing to produce products and avoid using more expensive materials.

Each of these companies employs the use of technology differently, yet as a whole, they highlight the tech industry’s popularity and profitability. Constant research and development dedicated to producing and perfecting new technology ensures that both companies and consumers will enjoy a bright technology-filled future.