BEHOLD the smart handbag.
An Australian technology start-up is targeting women to create an unorthodox fashion empire in what is becoming a growing international market.
The Gold Coast and Sydney-based pair, Lorna Swinstead and Bel Wood, are launching technology-packed “smart handbags” for women in Australia, with plans to expand overseas into high-end fashion stores.
But the company is just one of a host of firms focusing on female-centric technology in what is forecast to become a multibillion-dollar industry.
Former smartphone company executive Ms Wood said the pair launched Lorna Bel smart handbag with a greater high-fashion focus than other firms which approached female-friendly technology as a “novelty”.
“We want to bring fashion into the tech world and technology into the fashion world,” Ms Wood said.
“If we can make this successful in the fashion world then we’ll expand it into the mobile phone market.”
The Lorna Bel cross-body handbags are made of thick, grain leather or suede, and hide a 5000mAh battery in a dedicated compartment, with a charging cable available in a rear pocket.
Ms Swinstead said this addition lets women use phones while they recharge.
The $399 smart bags are currently available through Australian online stores, though Ms Swinstead said they were already attracting overseas buyers and planned to approach international retailers.
“We had a buyer recently who’s a dentist in the UK,” she said.
“We want to focus our efforts on Australia and then promote the bag overseas.”
Lorna Bel’s smart bag is one of a growing number of female-focused products in the wearable technology market.
CCS Insight predicts the wearable technology industry will be worth more than $US34 billion by 2020, and will reach $US14 billion in sales this year.
Other female-friendly tech products include WiseWear’s sensor-packed bracelets created with 94-year-old supermodel Iris Apfel, Ringly’s Aries smart bracelet that buzzes with phone alerts, and Fitbit’s slender Alta fitness tracker launched at New York Fashion Week this year.