Adapt. That is what humans have been doing since inception. Be it via genetic, cultural or ecological change to handle new environments, we have continually developed avenues for adjustments and acclimatization. But, what if our clothes became more than a basic covering? Create a dress code that acts as an extension of you and adapts to the environment on your behalf? That’s the question fashion designers are starting to toy with, be it in the pre-prototype, prototype, or ready for market phase. And here are just a few names already making waves:
Interactive clothing is definitely not a new concept. That being said, it is a good indication that you’re doing it exceptionally well if you get a solo exhibit during one of the major events in your field. Ying Gao created an entire fashion collection of high-tech wearable sculptures that provided individual exquisite pieces. Displayed at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, her solo exhibit titled ‘Ying Gao: Art, Fashion and Technology’ showed off the best of her intelligent couture.
Walking City: garment mimics the breathing movement and was created as a tribute to British architectural collective known as Archigram.
Neutralité: using facial recognition, these two dresses named ‘Can’t’ and ‘Won’t’, react to facial expression and only stop moving when the onlooker begins to emote. Her aim was to ask the on-looker to develop the skill of being stoic and a level of humility in a time where highly reactive and emotional responses are the norm.
Incertitudes: clothing that is activated by sound, engaging spectators on a conversational level which in itself is an uncertain situation.
(No) where and (Now) here: created from photo luminescent thread in collaboration with eye-tracking technology, comes two dresses that react to a spectator’s gaze. They light up when someone’s gaze rests upon the wearer.
Playtime: another pair of interactive dresses from Gao were inspired by Jacques Tati’s 1967 film by the same name. The dresses metamorphose when someone tries to photograph them. Playtime 1 begins to surge by the fabric contracting and blurring in response to camera flash. Playtime 2 has light-sensitive pads that emit a strong light when struck by camera flash.
Working with UV-reactive inks, Maddy Maxey has created an interactive clothing line that takes pre-existing technology but makes it feel instinctive. The photochromatic inks turn transparent in sunlight causing the clothes to respond to light by changing patterns. The idea is to eventually create clothing that produces different looks without having to purchase several items.
It was a sudden illness that inspired this designer to go the chemistry route. At WIRED 2015 Next Generation, this materials alchemist explained that, “I wanted to know how to produce material that could speak for you,” Bowker said. “A material that could give you an early warning system if you get ill, to give you an indication of how your spine or your muscles are performing.”In university, he created a pollution sensing jacket before graduating and created a fashion house known as ‘The Unseen’ that combines fashion with chemistry, as well as digital elements, to give a response to the wearer’s psychological and physical status.
PHYNX: responding to heat, light and friction, this piece’s feathers ripple with changing tones as the wearer moves about. This is achieved by a pollution-absorbent ink called PdCl2 that turns from yellow to black in dirt conditions. This went on to inspire sister sculpture pieces, namely Whitefeather, Blackfeather and Greyfeather, for four couture fashion house Peachoo & Krejberg’s A/W13 Parisian show.
THEUNSEEN Swarovski: gems team up with emerging tech to create this headpiece which resembles the human bone. The gems also absorb energy lost from the head by acting as a conduction insulator. Through the colour gradient scale known as THEUNSEEN Magick, the wearer is able to visualise the amount of energy being lost.Air: Reactive ink piece that changes colour when in contact with the air around the user. The aim of the garment is to show the reality of what actually surrounds them on a daily basis. Eigthsense: wanting to investigate human’s aura – an outwardly emitted transparent force of electromagnetic energy – THEUNSEEN created garments that read human magnetism through bio signals visually represented through colour and pattern. For example, if this coded couture piece turns red, the wearer may be nervous, anxious or angry while blue divulges calm.
Amy Winters showcases both traditional dresses made from fabrics that have been digitally printed, as well as, high-performance pieces.
Morph Dress: based on the infra-red insect wing imaging, this is a motion-sensitive dress that has a motion sensor embedded. Movement triggers illumination and animation in the electroluminescent wings.Elastic Colour: instead of painted or dyed materials, structural colour fabrics are used to offer a variety of striking colours that seem to change from different vantage or viewing points. Orange Butterfly dress: with a little water or rain, this dress can change its colour once wet. Liquid Bodysuit: this piece changes colour in response to twisting, bending or stretching of the fabric. The colour type is produced via light diffraction. Water, Sun and Reactive Dresses: the ‘Rainforest’ dress reacts to sunlight and water by changing its colour from black and white to a range of vivid colours. On the other hand, ‘Thunderstorm’ makes the colour change as a reaction to sound. ‘Picasso Explosion’ is another sound reactive creation that is a neoprene tube dress made of mirrored side panels with sculptured electrolumuniscent panels.
Shot by Cereinyn Ord and produced by Wantona Creative.
VTT Technical Research Centre
Scientists in Finland have developed a new technology that allows a wearer’s clothes to adjust to their needs automatically by adjusting the temperature. The smart clothing takes care of thermal, flow-technical behaviour and moisture through their Human Thermal Model calculation tool technology. The wearable tech takes into consideration the body composition differences in individuals and can be used by anyone from athletes to toddlers.
The Ger Mood Sweater acts as an “Emotional Mirror” that uses embedding sensors and display technologies to monitor the whole body and interpret the person’s mood and emotions through visible colours.
Sensoree‘s one-size-fits-all collar has a series of LEDs that works with sensors known as galvanic extimacy responders (GER) that are placed on the hands to read electric currents created by chemical reactions in the skin. Red indicates love or nervousness, while purple and yellow indicates excitement and contentment respectively. The tech is looking to give individuals who struggle with self-expression an avenue to show their feelings. But it also has the potential to help with the medical world, by helping those with disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease that make expression difficult as the changes are erratic.
ERIC TREMBLY x SWISS FEDERAL INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
There are already smart lenses that monitoring glucose levels, but Swiss researchers want to make zoom contact lenses a reality. The innovative new vision-enhancing system, which is controlled with a wink, includes a set of telescopic lenses and smart glasses that allows the user to easily switch between zoomed and normal vision. Although they are still in the prototype stage, they could be a great use to those with visual impairment, especially those with a condition known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
This serial entrepreneur may make super hearing aids a reality. It’s a hearing aid for people who can still hear quite well, but want to make their hearing better by having more control over what is amplified and what is filtered. The ‘Soundhawk Scoop‘ essentially allows the wearer to fine-tune your hearing for certain environments such as having a conversation with friends during happy hour without yelling at the top of your voice. Being an app-enabled gadget, it’s a smart and simplified device to use to create listening adjustments. It’s also expected to be way cheaper than other hearing aids in the market.
THE WIRELESS RESEARCH ENGINEERING RESOURCE CENTRE (RERC)
Speaking of hearing, if the conventional hearing aid is a bit of a snooze fest for you, there’s the NuWave to consider. It’s done away with in-canal electroacoustic devices and develops a pair of glasses that transforms sound waves into vibrations through bone conduction transducers. Safer in design, they carry the vibrations to the inner ear via the temporal bone.
At the Pratt Manhattan Gallery in New York Rebecca Pailes-Friedman’s represented futuristic fashion concepts through her shrug. This item of clothing, that has black chicken and coquet feathers that ruffle when distressed or anxious.
The Holy Dress will catch you in a lie because it uses lie detectors and speech recognition sensors to monitor the truthfulness of the person wearing it and also those around them.
Taking its cue from biology, Amy Congdon’s handmade jewellery wants to create and use materials in a whole new way. Rather than killing animals, she’s looking into engineered materials such as leather to make her creations.Body borne computers are among us and although most of the works are still conceptual projections or prototypes, it shows promise on the way forward when it comes to fashion and tech. What wearable tech garments would you like to see in the local scene, which look high-end but serve a second purpose? Drop your ideas in the comments below.