Sep 102011
 

Welcome to Fashioning Circuits, a public Humanities project related to Fashion and Emerging Media.

Photo "electronic led light dress at the museum of science and industry in chicago" by Flickr user David Hilowitz

Photo “electronic led light dress at the museum of science and industry in chicago” by Flickr user David Hilowitz

Fashioning Circuits was launched in September 2011 as part of a series of independent studies in the graduate program in Emerging Media and Communication (EMAC) at the University of Texas, Dallas. The goal of the project is twofold: to explore the ways in which fashion and emerging media intersect and to work with community partners to introduce beginners to making and coding through wearable media. In Fashioning Circuits “fashion” functions not just as a noun to describe cultural trends, but also as a verb, “to fashion,” to indicate the experiential and problem based learning strategies of the project as well as the potential for a diverse range of students to fashion themselves as members of the publics and counterpublics of the future.

This blog is one of the ways in which the work of the project is articulated. The blog content includes

  • Annotated Bibliography – annotated entries describing and analyzing books, articles, film, etc.
  • Coursework – resources from university courses, both independent study and formal classes.
  • Emerging Media – examples and analysis of blogs, social media, mobile applications, etc. as they pertain to fashion.
  • High Fashion – information and analysis of haute couture and runway iterations of wearable media.
  • History – historical impact of science, technology, and media on fashion.
  • Identity – analysis of the impact of fashion and emerging media on identity, including raced, classed, gendered, differently abled and sexualized bodies.
  • Project News – information about Fashioning Circuits activities and press coverage of the project
  • Representations – representations of fashion in media, including art, media, games, social avatars, etc.
  • Wearables – analysis of developments in wearable media, smart textiles, etc.
  • Workshop – descriptions of wearable media projects and detailed tutorials.

Aside from the blog archive, the editorial team is also active on Twitter. Search for the hashtag #fashioningcircuits to see all of the interesting resources we are finding and sharing.

If you would like to work with us on planning a community event, please contact kim.knight@utdallas.edu  If you would like to volunteer your time at one of our community events, please join our Facebook planning group at http://facebook.com/groups/fashioningcircuits

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+
Mar 182014
 
Clothing by Suzanne Lee - made from Kombucha SCOBYs and natural plant dye

“Bio Couture” by Suzanne Lee – sustainable clothing made from the combination of bacteria, yeast, sugar, and tea

London-based fashion designer Suzanne Lee is a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Fashion & Textiles at the at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. She is also the founder and creative director of Bio-Couture, where her work centers around the production and manipulation of sustainable biomaterial textiles. Suzanne is exploring ways to grow cellulose material using a common fermentation method that combines a simple sweet tea solution with a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast to brew kombucha. This symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (“SCOBY“) naturally produces microbial cellulose.

What’s so great about cellulose? It is Earth’s most common organic material and serves as the basis of many plant-based fibers used for textiles like linen, cotton, and hemp. Cotton itself is comprised of almost 95% cellulose. However, cotton is becoming increasingly more expensive to produce and has a significant negative impact on the environment. According to the IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative, about 10% of all agricultural chemicals used worldwide are processed by the cotton sector. While there is growing demand for sustainable organic cotton, the market remains relatively small and the organization is still in the midst of an uphill battle making sustainable organic cotton a mainstream standard. Continue reading »

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+
Mar 142014
 

Video games haven’t changed much lately in terms of how they are played. Of course there has been amazing upgrades in terms of content and quality, however there has been little variation from the usual “hold a controller and stare at a screen” mode of play. That is all set to change though as wearable technology continues to grow.  Leading the change is Oculus VR® with their work on virtual reality goggles.

The latest in their prototypes, voted Best of CES, is the ‘Crystal Cove’.

Oculus VR ‘Crystal Cove’ in Use

The goggles, with additional sensors and a camera that previous versions lacked, have finally eliminated the uncomfortable, potentially nauseating motion blur that is so common with reality replication. Another improvement over previous virtual reality gadgets is the comfort and affordability that Oculus has kept in mind during design. The ‘Crystal Cove’ goggles are approximately the weight of a heavy set of ski-goggles and offer almost 110° of viewing ability although the price is not set in stone.

The use of virtual reality isn’t just confined to gaming. As this technology develops there are many other fields that could benefit including medical and military. One day we may even begin to prefer the ever-changeable virtual reality. People who have tried out these goggles are already having a hard time putting them down.

Here’s an interview with the VP of Oculus VR over the new prototype that goes farther in depth of the technicalities.

CC:

  • http://www.oculusvr.com/rift/
  • http://www.engadget.com/2014/01/09/the-oculus-rift-crystal-cove-prototype-is-2014s-best-of-c/

 

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+
Mar 142014
 

As the wearable tech world grows exponentially under the radar of the public, there is beginning to be a reoccurring theme. Although others have found their base in headware or belt clips, most of the new tech coming out, it seems, is to be worn on the wrist.  Whether the device is for fitness, for time, or a combination of things, why are we only looking to this area of the body.

This was apparently questioned as well by the creators of the HeadWatch.  Expected to come to market sometime in 2015, the headset- watch combo seems to be a bridge between humans and tech that makes use of more than just the wrist. essentially, the device is an interactive bluetooth headset that functions as a controller for your smartphone, notifying you of incoming calls or texts, keeping the time handy, and functioning as a Bluetooth headset that is removed from the holder on the wrist and slid over the ear.

The HeadWatch

A more in-depth description as well as examples of usage can be viewed on the official site.
To support the cause and help fund this project, or maybe even roll your sleeves up to be a beta tester, visit their campaign page.

The Thanko Spy Necktie with Remote

Another product straying from the wrist craze is a spy necktie made by Thanko.

Retailing at $128.00 USD, the necktie features a small hidden camera to record with as well as a remote to activate the recording. For storage thereis 4gb of space available that can be used as a USB flash drive for transfer of the recordings. Because of its out of country status, you may need to visit here to learn more.

 

 

 

Despite not making it to the market, Huggies expanded into the wearable tech world just last year without the use of the wrist. The The Huggies Pregnancy Belt was made to allow soon-to-be fathers to feel their child’s kick just as the with-child mother can.  Initially used just for marketing, Huggies representatives said that they were “evaluating their options,” at the time.

The Pregnancy Belt for Him and Her [Respectively]

There is little information on the outcome or final decision of this device but it goes to show that there is plenty more to wearable tech than just what can fit around your wrist.

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+
Mar 132014
 

Despite the incredible success of the Fitbit Force since its introduction, there is now a recall for the wearable tech due to complaints from 1.7% of owners experiencing a skin irritation. After analysis by third parties, Fitbit announced that the irritations “were likely the result of allergic contact dermatitis”, however they continued to announce that the irritant could be a few different things. Whether it be the nickel found in the surgical grade stainless steel used in construction, the materials used in the strap of the tech, or even the adhesive used during assembly, the initial voluntary recall has escalated to an official announcement by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Fitbit is offering full refund/ exchange to Force owners regardless of where the device was purchased. If you are experiencing problems, or have questions concerning the recall, there is a return kit request form  available as well as a letter from the CEO and co-founder of Fitbit, James Park, describing the situation.

Photo Source: http://www.medicineandtechnology.com/2014/01/some-fitbit-force-users-reporting-rash.html

The irritation caused by Fitbit Force

 

 

For me, the issue is not a matter of what is causing the irritation, but why and how was it allowed. A new product will almost always have its quirks, and with wearable technology being so revolutionary, there is no surprise as the initial kinks are worked out. With the development of new wearable technology, our laws and regulations on it need to adapt as well. This scenario, although not life threatening, makes me wonder what else could unknowingly slip by our current regulations and proceed with public harm as so many people jump onto the bandwagon to have the latest in wearable technology.

 

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+
Mar 132014
 

One of my greatest desire is to combine my love of fashion and eco consciousness to help provide awareness and even solutions to maintain our planet. One of my obstacles, I have experienced and witnessed are the price tags on some of the wonderful “green” products that are in the market, today.

What I have observed in fashion is that due to use of the technology included to provide such an eco-friendly product, it has an effect on its cost. Many would spend $150.00 and up on a certain brand of Jeans or purse, but for me, in this particular season of my life,  that would be impractical.  I mean I am on the level to where my purchasing decisions have to do with purchasing between a package of paper plates from a dollar store or the cheapest biodegradable paper plates I have found, which are $2.50 by the way.

Because I know a little about  of what it entails to manufacture a RTW garment, I do have some reservations when it comes to purchasing some fashion items. I know that for a while “Green” has been the new Black in the fashion world.  With the immersion of fashion tech, I can see how eco-friendly may even become more for the chic.  I hope not.I anticipate to see green living accessible to anyone who  choses to live this particular lifestyle one day. So I try to live on my own convictions by reusing, recycling, and repurposing. I sometimes find myself buying sale and clearance items that aren’t previously used as well.  So enough of my soap box.

Here are some amazing and innovative products that are fashionably high tech green, that given the opportunity, I might even have to purchase a few to add to my “vintage” closet.

DVF solar purse

DVF solar purse

The lovely Diane Von Furstenberg and some her designer friends such  as Tommy Hilfiger join forces to create  purses with integrated solar powered panels for The Portable Light Project provide by Elle.  Her design generates clean renewable energy through a small solar panel on the side of the purse. The energy is stored in a small battery used to power a USB port for mobile devices and a light as well.

CO2 Dress

CO2 Dress

 

A dress by Diffus that can read high levels of CO2. The dress has LED sewn onto the fabric that creates flickering patterns when CO2 levels are high and low.

ph dress

Rain Palette Dress

 

 

Dahea Sun’s Rain Palette dress changes color to show ph levels in the rain. This helps indicate air quality. The dye on the dress is natural which reacts to the ph levels of rainwater.

raincatch

raincatch

 

Two students at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design created a raincoat that will also give you water to drink. Raincatch captures rainwater then through a series of chemical filters and charcoal the rainwater is converted into drinkable water.

 

Flutter dress

Flutter dress

 

 

The Flutter Dress created to help the hearing impaired.  The dress was Created by Halley Profita, Nicholas Farrow, and Professor Nikolaus Correll at the University of Colorado at Boulder. It gives  vibrations  in the direction of a loud sound within its external environment to help those with hearing loss.

 

I am not a Virgin

I am not a Virgin

Sexy jeans made from Beer bottles by I am Not a Virgin Founded by Peter Heron. At the moment their prototype consists of 25 percent bottle fiber and 75 percent cotton. They have used scraps from garment manufacturer companies to make their jeans and now have added the synthetic component of beer bottles.  The idea was inspired by the transformation bamboo into thread. The bottles are crushed into fine particulate, melted and then extruded into fiber. The company also has a line of T-shirts made from food trays, water bottles and other materials that are hard to breakdown in the environment. The company is still in its development. They are projecting to be on the market soon.

For many other innovations in Green tech fashionable garments click here.

CC:

  • DVF solar purse:http://webecoist.momtastic.com/2014/01/27/high-tech-high-fashion-13-futuristic-green-garments/
  • CO2 Dress:http://webecoist.momtastic.com/2014/01/27/high-tech-high-fashion-13-futuristic-green-garments/
  • Rain Palette Dress:http://webecoist.momtastic.com/2014/01/27/high-tech-high-fashion-13-futuristic-green-garments/
  • Raincatch:http://webecoist.momtastic.com/2014/01/27/high-tech-high-fashion-13-futuristic-green-garments/
  • Flutter Dress:http://www.crunchwear.com/flutter-dress-brings-high-fashion-to-the-hearing-impaired/#jp-carousel-3085
  • I am not a virgin Jeans:http://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-fashion/jeans-made-beer-bottles.html

 

 

 

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+
Mar 112014
 
Kanye

Kanye West

One of the exciting aims I can think of for this rising of  fusion of technology and fashion is the social solutions it can provide to world. Recently one of hip-hop’s fashion Icons, Kanye West became a topic of many conversations due to his wearing of masks during his Yeezus tour.  The masks were designed by Maison Martin Margiela. The masks made their way to the couture runway in the fall of 2013. I was attracted to the idea of wearing a mask as a form of expression through apparel after the current topic. Throughout history, I believe the “Bourgeoisie” has played with this idea of concealed identity especially within in a taboo setting, so therefore I can understand how this form of expression can make it to the world of couture. The wearing of masks can be interpreted in so many ways, but what if the reason for wearing masks became more of a necessity rather than an expression?

masks

masks

In China, the air pollution has become so horrific that “when air is so bad, people who don’t wear masks are like ET”, as expressed in the South China Morning Post. In Fashion-forward face masks a big hit in China amid soaring air pollution, Wu  Nan expressed the uprising of face masks as an effect to  protect China’s citizens from the air pollution. What was interesting to me  is that the article was posted under the Health section in the SCMP. The use of face masks have become so common that there has been a fashion dynamic added to this necessity. As with anything, the fashion market has found its way to establish its presence amongst consumers.

Totobobo

Totobobo

Respero

Respro

It would just be natural that enthusiastic fashion technologists would embark on this challenge.  In My Health Beijing, an article was written in comparing two air pollution face masks. . In Respro Vs. Totobobo: Which Mask Works Better For Air Pollution?  Dr. Richard  described details about Respro masks.  It contains filters for any urban pollution. The mask like others in the market helps to clean air while you breathe. Aesthetically, like its challengers,  it has an industrial but a slight sleekness to its appearance.

Airwaves

Airwaves

 

In more recent articles, such as AirWaves :Face Mask Filters Pollution, Crowdsources  Air-Quality Data in  ecouterre , a prototype of a new air pollution mask is featured. Author, Bridgette Meinhold, mentioned that the company Frog Design which one of its focuses is on the future of wearable technology, has created a mask that will help improve data monitoring. The Airwaves is a smart device that will monitor air quality in real time and then share its data to everyone who would have its mobile app. This would serve as a security to people from harmful environments while data collecting for the country. The appearance of the device is a bit more conspicuous on the technological aspect but it comes with the added equipment. I think this maybe one of the areas   Frog Design  may try to change within their product design given that the other masks on the market are not as bulky but with the added resource consumers might be a little more forgiving.

3m_mask

3M mask

The exciting part of this innovative piece of garment is that its original development was made for the intent to help people breathe in China.  It then progressed to a more technical advance device with added filters. What is a  little alarming is how it is becoming another “smart” device. It makes me wonder who is so data driven and how much will this device cost. In this scenario, a social problem was presented, to where its effects were dangerous to all partakers of society.  As a result of this problem a common wearable product, such as a face mask was in use and then turned to a fashion garment. As a natural effect in consumerism, the switch to a variety of choices of masks was not unusual in today’s market. The need to produce filters is also, I believe a logical step forward, but with the added equipment the cost of the product has increased. So now, I see a division of accessibility. For the general population there is a mask provided and for the ones with a little more disposable income there is also a product for them to use. Now with the use of smartphones, another product has been designed to suit consumers with the possession of smart devices which may have a different income than that of  the first face masks’ consumers. The price of a generic face mask provided by 3M is $12.71 Box/20 to compare to a filtered mask such as the Respro  for $59.95 plus the cost of filters $29.95 for two and that is just for a certain kind of air pollution. You would have to buy more for each environment.

Given the knowledge of China’s economic structure , it would appear that the filtered masks will not be used by everyone, but doesn’t everyone have the right to breathe the same quality of air? Now with this new smart device in progress, it brings about another question, doesn’t everyone have the right to know where the hazardous air pollution is located in their own country? I mean what if a person cannot afford a smart phone, how would that individual be informed? Maybe my thinking is a bit extreme because of with the prices of smartphones today, everyone should have one…right? But we are talking about China not America, a totally different economic situation…right? Who really gets to enjoy this new innovative fusion of fashion and technology?

CC:

  • Kanye West:http://www.thisis50.com/profiles/blogs/all-the-masks-kanye-wore-yeezus-kick-off
  • Masks:http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/health/article/1254691/fashion-forward-face-masks-big-hit-china-amid-soaring-air-pollution
  • Respero:http://www.myhealthbeijing.com/china-public-health/respro-vs-totobobo-which-mask-works-better-for-air-pollution/
  • Totobobo:http://www.theworldofchinese.com/2013/04/whered-you-get-that-mask/totobobo/
  • Airwaves:http://www.ecouterre.com/airwaves-face-mask-filters-pollution-crowdsources-air-quality-data/
  • 3M mask:http://www.theworldofchinese.com/2013/04/whered-you-get-that-mask/3m_mask/

 

 

 

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+
Mar 102014
 

Recently named the ‘best wearable tech’  at SXSW, the Skully Helmet Skully AR-1 allows the user to have a rear-facing, 180° view without needing to take their eyes off the road as the view is projected onto a transparent display in the visor. Also equipped is “an advanced situational awareness system, showing navigation and blind spot data” based on a series of microcomputers and sensors. Although still in beta testing, the helmet also offers turn by turn navigation, smartphone communication, as well as internet connectivity all at the control of your voice.

The Skully Helmet Skully AR-1

Up until now, ‘the helmet’ has played a small, albeit crucial, role in many different applications. With this major update in head safety, there is a whole new level of possibilities to be explored.  There is already talk of app development and updates post release. With all of the great features that are soon to be available to anyone using a helmet, there is also a speculative word of caution that goes hand in hand. It seems as though all of the distractions that drivers of cars have, the radio, phones, etc, have now all been neatly packaged into the helmet so motorcyclist can be distracted just as conveniently.

 

The safety upgrade that the Skully Helmet Skully AR-1 provides is a milestone for helmets that is long overdue. Let’s all hope that users are responsible about the use and application.

For more information on the Skully Helmet Skully AR-1 visit the Skully Helmets website.

 

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+
Mar 022014
 

When we think of wearable technology, we often imagine designs straight out of science fiction and unique futuristic materials. There are high-tech eyeglasses that take pictures, ultra biometric watches that track your sleep habits, and even vibrating shoe shoes that help you navigate the streets. In recent years, much of our everyday gear received high-tech upgrades but not much attention has been paid to the wallet.

Here is the object that houses nearly all of the valuables that a person carries on a daily basis: identification cards, credit and debit cards, and cash. With the massive security breaches at retailers Target and Neiman Marcus during the 2013 winter holiday season, it is abundantly clear that the magnetic stripes on credit cards are vulnerable to attack.

via Simon Vinal @ Corbis

Dunhill’s high-tech carbon fiber wallet uses biometric scanner technology to secure its contents.

Chip-based credit and debit cards are a safer alternative to magnetic stripe cards because they are difficult for thieves to reproduce. There are two types: EMV and RFID. EMV smart-card technology (also known as “chip and pin”) is widely used internationally but the US has been very slow to adopt this technology, as it requires retailers to update their outdated equipment and financial institutions to rollout new cards. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) card technology is the alternative but it comes with its own set of security-related challenges: anyone with a portable RFID reader can “read” the card data from a short distance.

For those unwilling to forgo credit and debit convenience, what technology is available to help protect our valuable card data? Some quick searching yielded the Omega titanium wallet and the biometric scanner wallet from Dunhill but both of these options (while futuristic and high-tech) are too clunky for daily wear (which defeats the basic function of a wallet) unless carried separately in a bag (impractical for some). Both draw unnecessary and perhaps unwanted attention to the wallet, which could make it a target for physical theft (which nullifies the purported security benefits).

 

via Articulate Wallet's Indiegogo page

Articulate Wallet’s special RFID blocking lining ensures that all your personal information, including the card in the back pocket, are protected from RFID identity theft.

Articulate Wallets (@A_Wallets) recently redesigned their eponymous wallet, keeping the RFID blocking technology but updating the design to suit the demands of modern life. Judging from the success of their Indiegogo project ($40,852 raised for $500 goal), there is a huge demand for wearable technology that offers consumer data protection with a less obtrusive  “traditional” design. There is some irony that in the rush to put out the latest and greatest wearable technology, aesthetic wearability is sometimes forgotten.

So maybe there is hope on the horizon for those of us that want our wearables to look bit less Alienator … and thankfully, other forward-looking companies like LaForge Optical are also starting to take note.

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+
Mar 022014
 
Law and order logo

Law and order logo

The show Law and Order aired an episode this month called Comic Perversion.  Summed up the episode is about a comic known for his satirical rapist jokes and is then accused of rape.  The victim turns out to be a poor witness and a concerned female citizen attempts to trap the comic by posing as a woman who wants to sleep with him.

In order to trap the comedian she used glasses with a camera embedded inside the frame.  Here’s the so what.  We all have an expectation that the police will not come to our house without due cause.  I have an expectation that the police or the government will not record me or my family in the privacy of my own home, but because of new media, including wearable media, I feel like I should not have expectation that I will be recorded my anyone and everyone. My friends can come into my house and record me, I can go to a local coffee shop and not be sure if someone sitting on a stool is recording me.  I have no expectation that what happens in the privacy in my home may not belong to me because I have a nosy neighbor who may using a recording device trained at my door and windows.

I am an artist and take pictures and write stories everyday.  What if I am out writing a new screenplay at the library and someone uses their recording device to look over my shoulder and steal my idea?  What happens to my right to intellectual property?

I am no longer convinced I am safe, secure, protected, and supported by the law and that’s the so what.

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+