Recently in technology Category

It's been 4+ years since my last post. Wondering if anyone is still out there... If so, watch this fantastic video from TED.

Swarovski SMS chandelier

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A few days ago Swarovski announced a high-tech chandelier that accepts SMS messages from your cell phone and displays them on "crystal strands like a luxurious ticker tape".

VP Nadja Swarovski compares the collaboration on this project to the relationships her grandfather once had with fashion designers like Christian Dior and Coco Chanel. "They would ask for a coating that would make material shine like the Northern Lights and back he went to Austria and created it." More recently, the family's crystals showed up in one of Alexander McQueen's collections.

But despite these references to the fashion world, there was no mention in the press release of adapting the chandelier technology for clothing. I have to believe this isn't for a lack of thinking about it... I can only imagine how gorgeous, intriguing and fun this would be on a couture gown.

the hum of technology

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I arrived in New York last night for ISWC. When I walked into my hotel room, I was confronted with a loud, high-pitched hum -- one that really would have kept me up all night. I was able to move to another room where the noise has a lower pitch and is slightly quieter, but it's still there.

Turns out the hum is residual noise from the parking garages and two large shopping malls that surround the hotel. If the electricity from these facilities creates noise that disturbs me on a conscious level, I wonder what the sub-conscious and cellular effects are... As someone who wants to put electronics all over the body, this really disturbs me.

I've checked the conference program, and no one is discussing the health considerations of wearable electronic or wireless devices. This disturbs me even more.

rain

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A few years ago Elise Co from the MIT Media Lab was working on a luminescent raincoat. It had panels that would light up when they got wet, mirroring the pattern of the raindrops.

Interactive rain gear has since made it out of academia and onto the runway. The June 2003 issue of Wired featured a transparent raincoat from Prada that becomes opaque when it gets wet from rain or perspiration. Miuccia Prada says, "Every piece of clothing shapes your body but also the space around you, the emptiness around you. This raincoat, from our 2002 winter collection, plays off that divide. ... It changes the relationship between what's inside and outside."

I'm not crazy about the perspiration thing, but I really like the idea of clothing responding to environmental factors like rain in a whimsical way.

BBC article rehash

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Several people have sent me links to or about the recent BBC article covering the Eurowearable 03 conference. Roland Piquepaille pulls out snippets from the original article for those who don't feel like reading the whole thing.

A post on gizmodo was dismissive, stating "the biggest reason why wearable computing hasn't taken off is that the clothes are usually ugly." My friend Megan had the same reaction when she looked at the illuminating dress that I mentioned in a previous post. Yes, as excited as I am about this dress, I admit the fabric is not something you long for in an evening dress. Or a sundress. Or any dress really. But the illuminating dress is important because it's an attempt, and an excellent one at that, to bridge the gulf between fashion and engineering.

The BBC article says that "much ... does not make it out of the engineer's lab or off the fashion designer's sketch pad". Clearly this will need to change in order for the field to move forward and I get the feeling that it's already happening. This is actually where I hope to position myself when I graduate next year.

- from Micah, John, and Haven. Thanks! :o)

A few months ago Haven suggested to me that studying tattoos might give me some ideas about the future design of wearable computers. Turns out he's not so crazy after all...

In the book Stylemakers: Inside Fashion, the authors talk about David Wolfe, one of Seventh Avenue's foremost fashion forecasters, and his ideas about tattoos. "Based on research from [the MIT experimental clothing laboratory], he predicts a future amalgamation of apparel and technology. 'Tattooing and body piercing are the first steps in this transformation,' he maintains. In less than a century, Wolfe predicts, fashion will be driven more by innovation provided by technology ñ heat-sensitive fabrics, holographic prints, computer-generated designs ñ than by traditional artistry. There will no longer be designers per se ñ only 'technicians,' he prognosticates. The very term 'designer' will seem archaic."

Haven and the fashion maven might just be right...

In 1997 Wired ran an article on a programmable tattoo that could be used as a medical monitor, sensing things like insulin levels.

In a related vein, slashdot recently posted a link to an article about spray on computers. The spray is actually millions of tiny "semiconductor specks" that communicate with each other over wireless. Another medical monitor, the spray would "go on the chest and monitor the performance of the heart." They plan to get this working within four years.

- articles from Haven

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