Wearable Tech, New Perspectives in Fashion

It is at the borders that some of the most interesting problems reside.
Eric R. Kandel, In Search of Memory*

The presentation of a smart bracelet, MICA (My Intelligent Communication Accessory) by Opening Ceremony and Intel on New York Fashion Week this year has demonstrated how deep technology is penetrating fashion world.

Wearables are a commonplace now and this event just confirmed our world’s obsession with both tech and fashion.

“It’s as intelligent as it is well-designed” — OC creative director Humberto Leon commented about smart bracelet MICA.

Fashion and biology. New fabrics

Remember that much-talked-of Lady Gaga’s meat dress? As shocking is it is, the idea of using animals for clothing is known for centuries (leather, silk and wool) while being condemned by animal rights groups along the way.

There is a new trend, however, that definitely looks more interesting and more ethical in some respect. The fabric made from bacteria.

Scientists from Biofabricate use bacteria and yeast to grow new fabric-like materials.

Biofabrication comprises highly disruptive technologies enabling design and manufacture to intersect with the building blocks of life.

Here is small video giving the idea of the company’s recent achievements:

A dress from green tea or a top from wine? Donna Franklin and Gary Cass made dresses out of beer and wine bacteria while using colourful fungi as dyers.

No doubt fungi could be very colourful indeed! I myself always fascinated by their colours and textures.

Colourful fungi are used as dye in new type of fabrics
Colourful fungi are used as dye in new type of fabrics

Will we be able to grow a wardrobe for ourselves soon? 3D-growing sounds like a fascinating idea – a unique organic dress grown just for you, no seams, no stitching, natural fabric, compostable.

Fashion and energy. Wearable solar station

Invention of flexible solar cells that could be woven into fabric opens great possibilities in off-grid situations.

Project leader of Wearable Solar Christiaan Holland was driven by his love of music festivals and aspiration to stay connected with his friends during events. At Wearable Solar he and his team put these ideas into life, designing fashionable clothes form solar powered fabrics.

We also see huge possibility for using solar fabrics for tourist wear and gear. Bushwalkers and travellers sometimes have to stay in a wild with no power source; it will be pretty cool to not worry about laptop and camera charge levels. A nice solar powered wind shell or tent will be a perfect solution!

Fashion and medicine. Taking care of your health

This is probably the field where fashion and tech have had the longest and most fruitful relationship over the past few years.

Smart bracelets, wrist bands and watches with biosensors that measure heart beat rate, blood pressure and calorie burn are as usual as ordinary jewellery.

The co-founder of biosensing technology company Valencell believes that ear is the best place to collect vital signs. The LG and Jabra are also following the same route.

Though LG’s Heart Rate Headphones was not released in Australia, Jabra offers a wireless in-ear fitness headphone that gives more accurate than wrist sensors data along with DDP sound.

Tech footwear

The second much developed field of tech and fashion union is footwear.

Here the collaboration mainly moves along two paths.

  • First leads to increasing in comfort and improvements in performance of the footwear. Think of smart technologies and fabrics Nike uses in their sports footwear.

  • Moticon is in this category as well. It is the world’s first fully integrated sensor insole. Wireless technology allows the foot pressure and motion parameters to be monitored easily which has direct benefits in rehabilitation and sports.

  • The second path adds speed to ordinary footwear.
  • It starts with skates, we knew.

    ACTON R RocketSkates™ , a Kickstarter’s project introduces battery-powered skates or the world’s first smart wearable transportation as stated on the web site.

    I see it as sophisticated combination of Heelys or roller skates and Segway.

    The RocketSkates™ use motion sensors and doesn’t require a remote to operate!

    Looking forward the heels-friendly version.

    Time for changes?

    It is obvious, that wearable technology is a hot commodity. Fashion and technology becoming strongly fused with every new development coming out. It is not just about looks anymore, but elegant performance and precise control as well.

    The key element of marrying fashion and science is and will be still to find an optimal balance between fashion itself and technology it incorporates. Make wearable tech fashionable, stylish and desirable.

    Is the time came finally for a new discipline which will integrate fashion and technology?

    *Eric Kandel is a neuroscientist who won Nobel Prize for his research on the physiological basis of memory storage in brain cells.

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