Di Mainstone


Di Mainstone


Ling Tang


Ling Tang


Ling Tang


Ling Tang


Ling Tang


Shamees Aden


Dominic Wilcox


Dominic Wilcox


Dominic Wilcox


Julie Legault


Julie Legault


Wearable Futures II

16th December 2013

Last week saw the Wearable Futures conference take place at Ravensbourne University in London, with over 50 speakers from the field and more than 300 attendees.

The event comes as the current issue of Wired Magazine predicts that 2014 will be the year of wearable tech. The event highlighted how far we’ve come from the first forays into wearable technology, involving attaching as many gadgets as possible into any given item of clothing. The overarching impression from the two days was that notions of wearable tech are rapidly expanding and evolving, with a more intuitive and human centered approach at its core.

This bottom up approach to utilizing technology was epitomized by the work of presenting designers such as Julie Legault. Legault, who works at MIT as a conceptual designer/ researcher, showcased “The Heartbeats Watch” a timepiece that has two sets of hands, one to measure ‘standard’ time and the other ‘emotional’ time such as how time flies when you are with those you love.

Another designer exploring the impact of goal orientated wearable technology on the body was Ling Tang and her “Reality Mediators” project;
“The 3 sets of experiments consist of 3 different types of sensors, i.e. muscle sensor, brainwave sensing device and Global Positioning System (GPS). They are paired separately with 4 types of actuators, i.e. electrical muscle stimulation, sound actuators, heat pads and vibration motors, fitted onto different parts of the body. All the outputs create inherently unpleasant effect on the user so as to measure the level of obvious disruptiveness to user’s everyday activities.”

Other key themes throughout the two days were numerous examples of elements of humour and fun that may have, in the past, been lacking from the area. One speaker taking a bottom up whimsical approach to this is Dominic Wilcox who’s wonderful sketches speculating on the potential of technology, such as a “Name GPS” friend finder, were presented alongside his 2012 “No Place Like Home: GPS shoes” during the ‘Wearable Cities’ panel. The shoes are designed to help you find your way home, much like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz clicking her heels three times to get back to Kansas. The user of the shoes can load any destination into them and the shoes will guide them home.



Overall the most exciting aspect of the two days was the expanded view of what our wearable technology future could be. Presented were different scales of wearables from the environmental epitomized by Di Mainstone’s “Human Harp” Project, to the body scale, through to the implanted, an aspect explored conceptually by Ann-Kristin Abel’s project “Thought Harvester”.

This pushing of the boundaries, of what is classed as ‘wearable technology’, to include the biological was great to see represented and was covered in particular by Suzanne Lee and the panel I was lucky enough to take part in. Entitled “Biological Design and Living Technology” the session was chaired by MA Textile Futures course leader Caroline Till, and included alumni from the course; Ann-Kristin Abel, Jenny Lee, Shamees Aden and myself

With a potential of the event becoming an annual conference, the area of wearables is one to watch the development of with interest. Having developed and matured as an area it is exciting to see what 2014’s year of wearables will bring to the table.

Amy Congdon

About


I use this blog as a notebook of inspirations – I post things I see and like and thoughts of mine. I don't revolve around a singular topic and neither does this blog. Everything and anything is relevant


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