- Associated Press - Thursday, April 21, 2016

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - Jamaal Crayton wants to give a tip of the hat to wearable technology.

The Peorian, who’s worked in the sales office of Caterpillar Inc. for the past 15 years, has also developed his own Internet business: Zero Wearables.

Partnering with his younger brother, Nuri, a computer engineer in Boston, Crayton seeks to move wearable technology beyond just health and wellness.

Wearable Internet-connected devices are literally growing by leaps and bounds - as Fitbit users demonstrate in their daily activities.

Fitbit, the leader in the wearable media field, shipped 8 million units in the last quarter of 2015.

Next comes Apple’s Smartwatch, which accounts for 15 percent of all wearables, according to IDC, a Framingham, Mass.-based research firm.

But the Craytons aren’t looking to measure steps or monitor your heartbeat with their wearable item. Rather, it’s a connected cap that allows users to instantly change the logo or image through their smartphone - using the Zero Wearables app.

“We want to make ourselves known for this one product - a ball cap that would be the first of its kind,” Crayton said.

The idea of a ball cap with space for a logo that would change - as needed - is a breakthrough whose time has come, he said. “We have re-imagined the baseball cap to meet the needs of the 21st century, since a lot has changed since the (baseball cap’s) inception in 1901,” said Crayton, 35.

Being able to personalize the cap isn’t confined to logos or symbols, he said. “You could use a hashtag reference or come up with your own innovation, as well,” Crayton said.

The “screen” on the cap measures 6 inches by 2.5 inches and is displayed in black and white, he said. “We’re limited to black-and-white images right now, but we expect color to be available by 2018,” Crayton said.

“We’ve been working on the concept for a year now. Our goal is to ship product in July 2017. We’re doing crowdfunding right now,” he said.

Prototypes and fundraising are the focus this year for Crayton, who works on his project after hours and on weekends while staying in touch with his Boston-based brother on a regular basis.

As for how much someone will pay for such a technocap, the cost would be $199, he estimates. If that sounds like a lot to spend for a ball cap, Crayton notes that ball caps are a big money business. Annually, 43 million ball caps are sold, making up a $4 billion business in this country with the high-end market - people willing to spend $40 to $150 on a cap - making up a $2 billion market, he said.

“You’ve got sneakerheads that live for shoes. They need a cool hat to go with them,” Crayton said.

For now, Crayton and his brother plan to concentrate on cool caps, but Zero Wearables will branch out in time, he said. “We have other things in mind that will take this concept to a whole ‘nother level,” said Crayton.


Source: Peoria Journal-Star, https://bit.ly/236Q1vX


Information from: Journal Star, https://pjstar.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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