Oct 072014
 

By Amanda Swan

Musicians are often in the news for pushing the boundaries when it comes to making their music, like Beyoncé’s unadvertised surprise album last year or U2’s direct-to-iPhone release of their latest release. Music production has the potential to change dramatically in the near-ish future through the use of gesture sensing gloves.

Working closely with British musical artist Imogen Heap, Mi.Mu has been working on a data collecting, sound manipulating pair of gloves. Although their Kickstarter failed to meet its goal, the company is still working on newer, more streamlined gloves to potentially market to interested parties.

Gesture control glove

Gesture control glove, courtesy mimu.org.uk

The gloves themselves use sensors to read gestures made by the wearer, which are then translated into different kinds of manipulated sounds. Each movement corresponds to a different manipulation or sound; for example, a high-hat or a fader might be engaged with a flick of the wrist.

This technology opens up a new realm of music making. For those of us who are less musically inclined in the traditional sense, these gloves would be a good opportunity to dip our toes into the musical pool one more time. Someone who isn’t great at guitar could be phenomenal at creating music through these gloves. Someone who never got the hang of drumming might be great at playing piano. But with these gloves, that person might be able to revisit drumming by programming each finger to coordinate to a drum sound. They would be able to drum using their fingers, perhaps similar to the style of playing the piano.

As I was reading through the Mi.Mu Kickstarter page, I found a few comments about adapting this kind of glove (motion sensitivity) for other purposes. One user suggested this technology would be great for those who have to use sign language. If some software was developed to read motions and translate them into written language, it could open up great new possibilities in interpersonal communication and allow conversation with those that were previously unreachable.

Like the technology proposed in Lauren Silverman’s article SXSW: Where High-Tech Meets High-Fashion, the Mi.Mu musical gloves are far from commercial production. However, they both present so many opportunities for those who are unable to conform to traditional music or communication practices.

 

Sep 302014
 

By: Jordan Massey

Image courtesy of Bragi.com

Image courtesy of Bragi.com

The age of wired technology is fast approaching its long-awaited doom.

While you were still busy ogling over the burgeoning trend in wearable fitness technology, one talent-stacked european company has been developing the Swiss Army Knife of wearable tech. Some say it’s a pair of wireless headphones, others say it’s a fitness tracker. Surprisingly, the Dash is both! And there’s none of that fitness tracker wristband malarkey, this gadget really does do it all.

The Dash by Bragi was first submitted as a Kickstarter project, and it raised an astounding $3.3 million, well above the project’s stated goal of $260,000. The Dash itself is a pair of wireless earbuds that also has the ability to track fitness data. The full list of features is nothing short of impressive, provided the real thing lives up to the hype.

The Dash, aside from taking advantage of wireless tethering, also has an onboard 4GB MP3 player, so the user with an active lifestyle does not need to carry a companion smartphone. The device features both Noise Reduction and Audio Transparency, which enables the user to allow environmental noise to pass through the headphones. This carries the benefit of allowing a user to remain aware of changes in their immediate area. An embedded earbone microphone is advertised as allowing crisp and clear phone conversations. Sporting an innovative dual touchpad control interface, the user can give several different commands to the Dash by simply swiping the cover of their earpiece.

In the image below you can see what the Dash looks like in-ear. While significantly larger than other earbuds on the market, the Dash is contoured to the shape of the middle ear. This allows room for all the added features, including the battery, while marketed as also providing a secure fit for active users. The flat surface in the middle of the earbud is the touch control interface. Swiping vertically, horizontally, and tapping can give the Dash various commands on either ear.

Continue reading »

Sep 232014
 

By Kristen Taylor

Photo courtesy of UrbanArmor.org

Photo courtesy of UrbanArmor.org

Photo courtesy of UrbanArmor.org

Photo courtesy of UrbanArmor.org

Last week, an acquaintance of mine posted a status on Facebook that said the following: “Yep, you pretty much give up any personal boundaries when riding the tram– some awkward ear caressing and arm caressing happened today.” Several things struck me about her post: it’s extremely matter-of-fact; no one who witnessed this event attempted to stop it; and the post received likes, rather than outraged comments. No one actually seemed terribly surprised that she faced unwanted and “awkward ear caressing” and “hand grabbing” from a stranger. It seems like for many people (especially those who identify as women), physical harassment is just one of those things that you are expected to put up with to exist in public spaces or utilize services.

Enter the the Personal Space Dress. Designed by artist Kathleen McDermott, the dress utilizes wearable technology to expand when someone gets too close to you, therefore preserving your personal space.

While this technology could be utilized in a variety of other situations when one may want to preserve personal space (like for those on the Autism spectrum who dislike some physical contact) it’s clear from Ms. McDermott’s video of the dress that her vision was for use in crowded places like public transit, where proximity can create opportunity for unwanted sexual contact.

Urban Armor# 2: The Personal Space Dress from Kathleen McDermott on Vimeo.

The dress works by using ultrasonic sensors to detect when someone (or something) is too close, which send an impulse that causes continuous motors to expand the dress outwards, like a hoop skirt. It shrinks back to its original size when the area is clear of the perceived threat.

Ms. McDermott notes on her website that this dress is not a product, but rather, an artwork meant to spark discussion. In a country where 65 percent of women are expected to experience public sexual harassment (via Stop Street Harassment), that’s always an admirable goal.

However, the design of this dress limits the conversation in several important ways. It’s pink. It’s frilly. It has more than a passing resemblance to a cupcake. None of these characteristics are inherently bad, but they do reinforce the narrative of feminine, cisgendered, heterosexual women as the only victims of sexual harassment. According to a report published by the organization Stop Street Harassment this year, 25 percent of men surveyed had experienced street harassment, and people of color, lower-income people, and people who identify as LGBT are all disproportionately affected. All people need to be safe in public spaces—not just those who embody traditional femininity and the discourse should reflect that.

The Personal Space Dress does unfortunately also remove the topic of consent from the discourse. Because it relies on “dumb” technology and cannot discern the difference between wanted and unwanted contact, the wearer is effectively cut off from any touch, even those enthusiastically consented to. It also puts the burden of responsibility on the wearer to protect themselves, rather than promoting a shift in culture that would render it useless. Once again, victims are expected to arm themselves against threats—hardly a revolutionary concept—and it’s easy to picture a society that blames all victims who don’t wear the Personal Space Dress for being harassed.

Related projects include a Tumblr blog called “Men Taking Up Too Much Space on the Train (a lighthearted project that shows the ways in which men’s needs in public space are prioritized over women) and Stop Telling Women to Smile, an art series that addresses the impact of gender-based street harassment on its victims. Other projects in Ms. McDermott’s Urban Armor series include a veil that protects your identity from CCTV cameras and a robotic scarf that protects the wearer from pollution. While all three projects concentrate on ways that technology can protect the wearer, the Personal Space Dress is the only one that not only avoids unwanted situations, but addresses them head-on.

Further Reading:

View the instructions at Urban Armor

May 082014
 

I have always have a fascination with the “space world”. Being a fashion student, I could only dream to be so  avant garde like Jean Paul Gautier in  his creations for the Fifth element. While working with LEDs this semester, I thought to myself wouldn’t it be cool to have tiny LEDs at the tip of your eyelashes.  It would be something you will see in a Sci-Fi movie. So I goggled to see if such a product exist. I came across Soomi Park’s video. Here, Park uses LED’s to emphasize on the size of the eye.  What was so cool about the technology part of the lashes is that they came with sensors. You can turn the lashes on and off by tilting your head. The video itself is kind of “spacey”. I didn’t even know that this existed.  I think the whole concept is cool but they are a little too bulky for me. They also come with added materials that are attached to your ear which maybe the sensors.  I could see this taking off for a while especially within the Music Video world.

monster LED

LED pojken

 

 

I came across another LED eyelash project pojken. This project was use for costuming.  Here the artist uses smaller LEDs. (SMDs). These were made to wear on the top of the eyelid. She also used soldering to help keep them together.   This started a journey for me  to see if what I wanted existed. I found a whole  eyelash design world. There are many different designs to artistically express yourself. I discovered that there are UV eyelashes in market now.

UV Eyelashes

UV eyelashes

 

 

 

I would like to design or help to find LEDs small enough to put at the tip of eyelashes to where they would appear to be little drops of color liquid at the end of the eyelash. Technically I don’t think a LED exist that can be so small and then would the LEDs be on all the time. Is there a light sensor small enough to communicate to the LEDs when to shut down and when to come on? It would bring your eyes to a whole other level, when it comes to make-up and flirting, don’t you think?

CC:

” Make wearable LED eyelashes” by pojken: http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-wearable-LED-eyelashes/

Soomi Park Video: http://www.ecouterre.com/led-eyelashes-designed-to-brighten-enlarge-eyes/led-eyelashes-2/

UV eyelashes: http://www.trendhunter.com/slideshow/funky-eyelash-designs

May 082014
 

 

E- make-up?

 

As I was searching for information about 3d printing I ran across this :  The Mink printer

Ladies..we don’t have to run to the store to get make up. We will now be able to make your own make up straight from your printer. A Harvard student by the name of   Ms.  Choi, has develop a printer that will print out any shade of color. Color that is wearable due to 3d printing. Her argument is that manufactures are selling a lot “bullshit”. She believes that women should be able to establish what beauty is to themselves and the mink printer will help expand this idea. According to Choi,  mass manufactures only sell make up that are high volume which limits the selection for women. If a women would want a niche make up brand then you have to go to a high priced vendor such as Sephora which also limits the choices for women. This also drives the prices of niche colors up to where it would be considered prestige to even buy that particular make up.     Her target audience are girls ranging from ages 13-21 because she wants to develop a new culture for buying make up. She believes that this age group is way beyond ready to print their own make-up. It would be just be in their nature to click and print.

The hardware itself is  just the same as a regular inkjet printer. You would not have to buy any special software to make the make- up.  You would have to buy the program which is gracemink.com.   You actually will be able to pick a picture, take the color hex code from a color picker and print from any software  You have to buy ink which is FDA approved. In the demo she literally pulled an eye shadow from a printer.  She is basically selling the idea of providing your own pigment to our own raw materials to make your own make-up.

The concept appears to be doable but it brings a lot of questions to mind. For example, the raw materials, where will a thirteen year old girl get these materials? The ink in the printer is assumed to be FDA approved but with added functional attributes will the make -up cause allergies or skin conditions?

I think if it is not marketed correctly, it can be just another “easy bake oven” put on the side that doesn’t decompose. I don’t know what approach to use that would make this product become a household name that everyone would use every day. I do agree with Ms. Choi that manufacturers and niche markets do try to possess the control of the make- up market. It would be a way to empower our young and older women but it would it just be just another revolutionary fad? We experienced the same thing with Green became the new black. It would be kind of difficult to convince a single mom that has to rely on Wally world’s sale on Cover girl and Revlon, to invest in a three hundred dollar machine in which you will still have to buy additional supplies to make your own make up.

Convenience is another reason that may be positive or a negative. Making your own make-up at home seems to be ideal but what if you don’t have the additional supplies and the time how would that work. I do have to say I was impress when I saw the demo, she made eye shadow in less than six minutes. But really who has the time to print anything now, isn’t that  why we now have e-coupons now.

I love the fact that Ms. Choi wants to disrupt the whole make-up world.  Any idea that brings about change does deserve a moment of consideration.  I don’t wear make-up on a daily basis but I have spent a few more dollars on products that Ms. Choi would consider prestige. Well, it’s because it makes me feel pretty… maybe Ms. Choi’s Mink printer will change how we see beauty.

CC: video: http://youtu.be/cBZHFUQiP8Q

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/

 

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.

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

 

 

 

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/

 

 

 

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.