Func -e- Fashion

Led and Lily

Recently, a group of students of the Hague University of Applied Sciences concluded a short study into the current technological and market drivers of fashionable technology.  Fashionable technology could be considered the field where the creative aspects of fashion, embedded technology, e-textiles and novel (3d printed) materials are combined into smart wearable clothing and accessories.

Meg Grant

The basic conclusions from this study suggested to move beyond products which only use LED light technology and (quoting Oscar Tomico Tu/e) sewing yet another lilypad onto a design. Focus should shift to start working toward combining useful functionality in fashionable designs. In addition, The available designs are currently priced at such levels that large scale market adaptation is not happening. To allow function and design to merge we propose here to work from two, apparently almost disjoint, domains to develop new functions. The domains we chose are the domains of health care and dance-events.

Mixed Emotions

With the advent of technology in areas such as e-textiles, low-power embedded hardware, flexible circuits, 3d printing and robotics we are at a point where these basic human needs and functionality can reinforce each other to the benefit of the user.

Otheruse single OThe reason we chose health care and dance events is that they are largely driven by the human emotions underlying it. So is fashion! Clothes and accessories have allowed wearers to express emotions to others, enhance status and display solidarity with other people for millennia. Moreover, as social creatures most of us are in search of reciprocated friendships, peer acceptance and group membership.

Augmented fashion

In this paragraph we propose two projects that in our opinion would allow to cross the line between fashion, human emotions and technology. The 3D Accessorizable Prosthetics project leans more to the care aspect and the ‘Surplus Details’ project tends more toward the Social (media) aspect of dance and fashion. However, the basic building blocks and technologies are similar.

Project 1 : 3D Accessorizable Prosthetics

In this project we would like to explore the boundary between fashionable accessoires, functional augmentation and prosthetics. The beautiful TED talk by Aimee Mullens (Athlete, Actor and Activist) best captures this notion and we quote :

Therefore this project is about combining (augmented) functionality and beautiful designed prosthetic accessories using a combination of 3D fabrication, e-fabrics, robotics and embedded hardware. Imagine a prosthetic ear with blue-tooth functionality or sound level display.  Or a hand with sign language capability, or adaptive LED skin shades/tattoos?er it is that they want to create in that space.”

It is not hard to imagine such designer accessories being adapted to and wanted by non-impaired people. Who doesn’t want to be the architect of their own identity?

 Project 2 : Surplus Details

When we take look at someone’s clothing we automatically make judgements about such things as social background, group membership, even music taste and emotional state. This is especially true for venues like dance-events where these aspects are often highly magnified.

What if we could use someones clothing to mediate these inter-personal assumptions? What if this would appear on your social media profile? In addition, my clothes might act as a hub that connects for example to a heart monitor, temperature sensor or a panic button to allow me to feel comfortable and safe in an anonymous crowd. Functionality could include finding where your friends are or which areas of a festival are over-crowded.

Finally, what if I am an up-and-coming fashion designer showing of my designs to a potential audience of 50k people allowing them to express interest and/or recommend it on any social media platform? This project is about exploring new functionalities and the ubiquitous qualities of active RFID tags, sensors, LED technology, foldable circuits, digital fabrication methods and social media tools that mediate these interactions.  Communication with web platforms open up a lot of technical possibilities, while more complex issues of ownership of design, privacy and “the quantified self” can also be explored.

 

Practise makes perfect

We’ll put together two teams of focused professionals in the fields of interaction design, fashion design with e-textile experience, electrical engineers, material and mechanical engineers, mechatronics engineers and marketing & business. We aim to deliver two working/demonstrable concepts, one for the ‘3D Accessorizable Prosthetics’ project and one for the ‘Surplus details’ project.
In order to encourage every team member to feel equally invested in the project, we recommend that the teams develop the concept and design together right from the start.  This means that everyone will feel they share ownership of the project and can make suggestions and recommendations right from the start, and if a business opportunity comes along there is hopefully less dispute about the returns. The team members will be recruited from our networks, casting as wide a net as possible, for example, one of our contacts in the Interaction Design Department of TU/e has already expressed interest in making this collaboration available to one or more of his students in the form of an internship.  We also have connections with many people in the Dutch e-textile and wearable technology community, the open source hardware community, as well as people in the different engineering disciplines within the TU Delft and TNO.  Our aim is to bring together a diverse group of people in order to get the most innovative results. We are in early startup and highly iterative phase with this initiative.  If you would like more information or to join this project, or just to say hi, we’d love to hear from you.  Please email us anything we might need in order to get to know you and your work.  Links to your portfolio, projects you’ve been involved in or a CV of your work and/or links to examples of your work to either Peter Tettelaar (peter@otheruse.nl) or Meg Grant (info@meggrant.com).