Because I’m interested in the nature of online commentary, I came up with a project idea that might seem a bit absurd. After constructing this hat at the beginning of the semester and noticing that it was less-than aesthetically pleasing due to bad stitching and a loud, obnoxious print, I wondered how I could use that to my advantage.
What if I took this hat and made it react to anything negative someone said about it? To do this I’m setting up a website where users can look at a photo of my hat (see above) and make value judgments on the attractiveness level of my hat. Users can select one of two options, saying “yes, I like that hat” or “no, it’s ugly.” If the user declared my hat to be unappealing, my hat would react through the power of a post-Britney Justin Timberlake, and begin to play “Cry Me a River.” The idea is that the hat will have an instantaneous reaction to negative commentary, illuminating that what you say or do online can have consequences. (In this case, the consequence is that the hat gets sad/bumps a little JT.)
So far, I have a soundboard that I (with a lot of help!) have soldered to connect to a speaker, which in turn should connect to the Lilypad Arduino that will eventually be loaded with the right code to respond to the very important “Do you like my hat?” question.
From here, I need to get the right code so that the arduino powers the soundboard to play “Cry Me a River,” and once I get that working, I will work on the code to get the arduino to respond to an email account that I will set up. When, on the website, someone condemns my hat as being unattractive, it will trigger an email to be sent to an account that I have set up exclusively for my hat. The code for the arduino will trigger for each new email my inbox gets, and then it will start playing “Cry Me a River.”
I have a bit of a ways to go before I’m finished with this project, but in the words of Galaxy Quest’s Captain Peter Quincy Taggart, “Never give up, never surrender.”
A concept I’d been kicking around for a while is the dynamics of something like music performance and audience response. Getting a sense of what a crowd responds to or is into might influence the alteration of a set on a micro- or macroscopic level. There’s a few vectors of hardware and interaction I’d like to get at (I’ve been eyeing community drivers for the Kinect for a long time to look at crowds en masse), but when focusing more directly on wearable media I wanted to dig more deeply into movement as an expressive response to media, and ways to increase reciprocity with what inspired said movement.
Given its ability to act as a USB HID device, I went with Adafruit’s FLORA as my microcontroller. It was my hope that this would allow me to not need a back end on any computer, and could just program the microcontroller to put out the MIDI that I wanted to express based on whatever sensory input. It wasn’t until after I’d received my FLORA and began digging for code that I noticed the complete lack of available information on any such project with that particular microcontroller. I was hard-pressed to find any example code at all of MIDI HID on the Arduino platform in general, and that which I did find seemed to be relatively inapplicable.I’d like to take the time to research and contribute to such a library for the FLORA, but that was outside of the scope of the project.
For sensory input, I’ve so far settled upon using Adafruit’s complementary FLORA accelerometer. After some flirtations with trying to get Firmata mode set up with the Node.js library Johnny-Five, my limited low-level experience made trying to interpret the i2c signals coming from the accelerometer also outside the project’s scope. I opted instead to use Adafruit’s provided library for the accelerometer and format it for easy digestion by node-serialport. At this point, the FLORA is simply kicking out accelerometer data along the three axes as a single line that the Node.js back-end interprets as a stream. This stream parses out that serial text into numeric values, which I can then scale up and interpret.
Currently the output vector for this is the coremidi module, allowing me to push interpreted accelerometer data to MIDI in OS X. I am still exploring the best ways to scale and manipulate data, and then how to have it affect music. Having the accelerometer output tied to something like the modwheel would make sense for altering the sound but not having to worry about particular notes or timing (none of the Node.js MIDI libraries I could find had clock functionality built in; quantizing would have to happen inside of whatever music software). The practically hard part of creating a motion input has been completed, but the manipulation of that input and in what was to necessarily output it is not something I’ve entirely settled upon. I will be making the source code public in the near future for the project as it exists now.
I’ve purchased and will be adhering a Sparkfun BlueSMIRF Silver Bluetooth adapter (Adafruit has insisted a sewable module of their own is coming) to push the serial data wirelessly to a computer in order to get rid of a physical cable and to open up the possibility that there can be more than one of these devices in play at once. It would be incredibly fun to get a dancefloor full of people wired up with these sensors, and to crunch data about their physical response to music that will then influence how the music ends up getting expressed. Unfortunately, this seems very cost-ineffective at this time. Using a full-size FLORA, accelerometer, Bluetooth module and coin battery-based power supply puts material costs well above what seems practical or viable to do with any sort of scale. The cost also kept me from embedding or folding the hardware into any sort of more elaborate or particular clothing for fear of making it too specific; a wristband was as simple an item of clothing I could imagine.
As it stands, this either serves as a neat proof of concept for the dynamic I was seeking to explore, or it’s something that I as a producer of music can wear while either recording or performing that will allow another facet of control and expression that responds to my physical body. I’m still excited about this idea, but it ends up feeling less novel to me. The goal for this concept in the future will be how to play with the movement or expressions of a crowd without having to have a 1:1 relationship between micorocontrollers (or sensors) and individuals. To push in the more wearable direction, it would take cheaper parts, which maybe wouldn’t even have a dancefloor context. Perhaps much like many “quantified self” devices, it would be possible to record the rhythm of one’s daily movements, and to use those to algorithmically compose a soundtrack out of any given day.
Presenting our projects at Capstone. Photo taken by Mona Kasra.
Coming up with an idea for the final project was a difficult task because making something that is easily wearable that also has social meaning is harder then it sounds. I went back and forth around the idea of body image and how you could some how show that with led’s on a piece of clothing but decided that it wasn’t obvious enough. I came to realization sometime a few hours before we presented Kim with our concepts that I should focus on mastectomy patients and how they may feel being uneven after having a mastectomy.
My dear friend was diagnosed with breast cancer almost 2 years ago and has been through two battles fighting breast cancer. When they found the second cancerous tumor 6 months after her first battle was supposedly “over” they decided to do a mastectomy on her left breast. For a woman to go through losing a breast and a nipple is an extremely traumatic event for her self image. I decided to focus on making the light be a simple of what or how being uneven may feel like.
After deciding that I was going to do something revolving around this concept Kim and I had many discussions as to how to best convey this. We had some very fun concepts come out of our discussions but sadly time was an issue with getting the project completed. I would have loved to do both sides of the bra and make it very apparent that one side had a nipple and one did not. Kim also mentioned making one side blow up and one side not. I also thought about doing a light that was temperature sensitive since heat is a sign of cancer as well as part of radiation. These were all fantastic ideas but timing was an issue.
In contemporary culture clothing has been commonly subject to the aestheticization of wealth; labels, styles and materials perform double duty as potential objet d’art as well as status symbol. Sitting alongside cars, smart devices that we perpetually have on-hand have become high-dollar evolutions of the feature phone. While older ‘dumb phones’ may have had a gradient of quality (looks, call quality, battery life), newer phones can have a number of different data connections, sensors, and proprietary software. Not only that, but brand cachet is such that even over-the-top protective cases still have cutouts for the logo to shine through. This transition is not just the mobilization or augmentation of the “digital divide” (though it certainly is that in many respects), but presses this divide further into public performance.
This performativity gets more interesting in the case of wearable computing that seems to be on the crest of entering public space, and how unevenly those devices will be distributed. As other have pointed out, this more broad (though again, not complete) spread of smartphone owners across the spectrum of socio-economic status is strongly aided by carrier subsidies that allow for the point-of-purchase cost to be comparatively minimal. Google Glass, the convenient icon for this new wave of wearable computing, has no such subsidy on it as of yet (with the hefty caveat that this is early on in the device’s life). This barrier of availability and viability is perhaps the most salient, but certainly not the only one.
Media representation so far has been unilateral in ethnocultural identity, to say the absolute least. This has been most bluntly observed by the ever-growing Tumblr of White Men Wearing Google Glass (whose potential thesis of uncoolness I’ll get back to). On this level, there is no examples of non-White/cis/male individuals using this device (which itself may already have been a byproduct of the first concern of cost). The sort of Silicon Valley early-adopter culture that would put up several thousand dollars for a wearable computer sight-unseen is not prevalent outside of certain fields and regions. When there are no examples of people who aren’t in that rigid taxonomy utilizing devices, that sends a certain sort of limiting cultural message. One article notes the minutiae of this problem of current access, and speaks more to the larger cultural circumstances around “White Men Wearing Google Glass” that are a systemic problem.
Even beyond this personal relationship with the idea of something like Glass, is the interpersonal dynamics of engaging with someone who “has” when one “has not”; signifiers of stratification become that much more persistent and that much more glaringly quantifiable. The style and branding of clothing can speak to certain levels of status, but being stared in the face by a clearly identifiable object with a well-known retail tag can create distance from those who do not have such access. Users of Glass so far have spoken of it social precariousness — in part due to the unfamiliarity to others (or oneself) of these not-glasses with a camera attached to someone’s face that listen to everything — but also due to the unreciprocated split of attention they have between anyone they engage with and their new heads-up display. There is suddenly a potential need to develop new social etiquette and expectations around mobile computing that seem like they will only germinate and develop around those used to dealing with these technologies.
It’s incredibly difficult to think of a future in which some form of wearable computer or HUD isn’t more common, but as Luke W notes, we’re maybe just not there yet. To return to part of what feels like the thought behind White Men, I’ve yet to see a picture of Glass that doesn’t look at least a little tacky. The aesthetic is not necessarily congruous with other signifiers of contemporary style. With the lenses attached, they most resemble 90s single-lens sunglasses, at this point largely relegated to certain rappers or other such tastemakers.
As uneven as the transition may have initially been into any sort of mobile device (feature phone or smart device or tablet), each has been previously more focused upon remote contact and communication. Devices like Glass explicitly focus on the here-and-now; it’s no longer someone talking to their friend but someone utilizing the tech to record the environment — that includes those in the environment. This differences makes for an odd social background which must be navigated.
Rape, women’s rights, and abortion are always a hot topic in politics and the development of an anti-rape underwear invented by students from SRM University is a powerful statement in regards to those three hot buttons. The Society Harnessing Equipment (SHE) was developed by 2 females and 1 male from Sri Ramaswamy Memoria (SRM) University after the merciless rape of a young Indian woman in December, according to the India Times.
After research the team found that attackers often grab for the breast first which is what led them to developing the SHE camisole. When a woman gets attacked the camisole will send an electric shock to her attacker of up to 82 volts. The electric shock circuit board is positioned on the chest of the camisole and is equipped with a GPS tracking unit. When the sensors are activated the GPS and GSM unit would send out an alert to an emergency number and the woman’s parents.
The product is still in it’s early phases as they are partnering with The National Institute of Fashion to find a fabric that can be washable but the concept is out there and on it’s way to helping women. This is just one advance towards the problem of rape in our society that will possibly only protect those that are fortunate enough to purchase one. There are still many more strides that need to be taken in our society to help prevent women from being brutally raped but I’m excited to say fashion and technology is on it’s way to helping!
2012 and 2013 has been an interesting time period for the development of technology into fashion, specifically with the development of Google Glass. Although, outside of the sporting good market where else have we seen advances in technological fashion to your mass markets? At a whopping expected price point of $1,500 who exactly does Google think they are marketing to?
Currently Google has a lead in the advances toward incorporating “computers” into fashionable items in the accessory market. Apple has also been rumored to be coming out with iWatch which is again in the accessory market. We have yet to see advances in the Ready To Wear market outside of the health and fitness arena. Techno Fashion by Bradley Quinn was published in 2002 and references the i-Wear project which was a production of prototype garments. This project was experimenting with making clothing that used laptops, mobile devices, and batteries which we are just now starting to see with the development of these new “smart” fashion pieces.
“Our philosophy was to integrate very naturally the technology into the clothing. The i-Wear shouldn’t hinder people’s movements, it should be like normal clothing, but with many new options. It should be a second skin that feels what is going on inside the body and outside in the environment and takes action using that data.” De Brouwer (Quinn, p. 103)
So from 2002 to 2013 we haven’t made any leaps and bounds towards the mass market having access to this kind of “i-Wear” that De Brouwer and his team were working on for a span of five years but is Google Glass about to bridge this gap? Much like the Apple fanboys Google has a strong following and they may have the brand power and hype on their side to make this technological advance stick around. While they clearly are not at a point to bring the cost to a more consumer friendly place they sure do have enough hype around their product. Currently the product is in the hands of thousands of developers and will soon be out for an “everyday” consumer to purchase…of course an everyday consumer who has $1,500 lying around to purchase on a gadget that may or may not stick around.
The question that I would like to pose is, are we at a point were people are ready to rely less on their phone and more on an item of “fashion”? Phones over the past decade have taken a place in our society as a statement of wealth and also a fashion statement. We have come a long way from the brick phones from the 80′s to the newest iPhone 5′s sleek design. So many people base their status in society on what phone they carry that are we ready to make the jump to glasses or a watch that will make a phone almost useless besides for its original purpose, to make phone calls. It can be easily seen every time Apple comes out with a new iPhone that this piece of hardware is so extremely important that people will wait for days in line just to be the first to have one. It has yet to be seen how Google will market this item to the mass public but it will be interesting to see if your average customer will want to try them on.
In an article from Mashable.com they referenced an infographic from footwear retailer Brantano that seems to be quite useful in this discussion.
Before the Internet, long distant relationships consist of long conversations on the phone, love letters, and trips via airplane, bus, car, or train. The lovers longed for the day in which they would be united. Once the Internet became available, a new kind of communication was developed that was more immediate and cost effective. There was one problem that needed to be addressed that even the Internet could not answer, the sensory aspect of the relationship. In other words, how can physical intimacy take place over long distances?
Using Skype, text messages, and picture attachments may fall short of the new innovation available for long distant connections. Gone are the days of distant lovers waiting days, weeks, month or even years to embrace. All that is needed is an iPhone loaded with the underwear that vibrates app, bra and panties or boxer-briefs to make long distant sparks fly. Durex, an international condom manufacturer is in the experimental phase of launching Fundawear to take long distance intimacy to a new level. Fundawear uses the same technology that makes cellular phones vibrate to make the underwear vibrate. Hundreds of sensors are embedded in the underwear. These sensors can be activated by the iPhone app (the underwear that vibrates app). The app displays a replication of the underwear with zones in which the participants would like to control. All the participants have to do is slide their fingers over the zones and via the Internet, the virtual touch takes place.
Although Fundawear has not been launched to date, they have had a few consumers experiment with the product. It seems to work as planned according to an Australian couple who have tried the product and posted a video on the Internet. The product will be initially launched in Australia once the experimental phase is complete. The company has not given any indication of the actual launch date. However, the company has a Facebook page in which interested or potential buyers of the product can enter into a contest to win the product to experience it firsthand.
Vibrating underwear is not exclusive to Durex. There have been many companies that have experimented and launched such products. The innovation is brought by the manner in which Durex uses existing cellular phone technology to surpass a handheld remote control that only works in close proximity to the garment. They have found a way to capitalize on the use of the Internet to touch essentially all around the world.
How will this affect relationships in the future, not just long distant intimate relationships but relationships that are local and personal? Are we essentially evolving into cyborgs, man and machine that rely less on human touch, but the experiences we can get from computer generated love with technological extremities infused with our bodies that can be turned off and on not only by another individual, but by oneself. We will have to wait and see how this product is adopted to get more answers about the possibilities of technology driven intimacy. Until then, Fundawear will be a fantasy, just like the fantasy that creeps into the minds of distant lovers wanting a physical, intimate connection that is not achievable by Skype, text messaging, or picture attachments.
Just when you thought Nike, Lululemon, Rebook, New Balance and a whole host of sportswear companies cornered the market in technological advances to cool, heat, and draw sweat and odor from the body with fabric; a new phenomenon has hit the streets…a button down Oxford shirt that does not require washing for up to 100 days. One should note that the shirt stays odor free. Not only does this shirt not require washing for 100 days, but it also claims to be odor free. An American company, Wool&Prince, developed this shirt using CottonSoft ™ wool. This wool is a proprietary product that is six times more durable than cotton and naturally fights odors and resists winkles. The shirt comes in one color and two prints which include: light blue; orange, white, and navy gingham check print; and white, navy and black gingham check print. Currently, the shirt is only available for men.
The developers of this shirt distributed it to 15 individuals around the world to test the product by taking it through extreme measures. Some individuals tested the no wrinkle claim by balling it up and keeping it in their gym bag only to find when they retrieved the shirt from the bag that it was in fact wrinkle free and ready to wear. Others have worn it over and over again while participating in sports activities and claim that not only did the shirt remain wrinkle free, but odor free as well. So, far it looks like the product lives up to its claims. To date, 3,000 shirts have been manufactured and they are currently sold out until November when another batch will be manufactured.
What are the advantages of the shirt?
Less water usage for laundry.
Less waste associated with detergent containers.
Less electricity needed to operate laundry machinery.
Less trips to laundry facilities/gas savings.
What are the disadvantages of the shirt?
The shirt does not make claims to be stain resistant, so if you spill something on the shirt it requires washing.
The shirt is odor resistant, but can’t go 100 days without bathing and still have the desired results of odor free.
It is only available for men; some women have the desire to have a shirt that is wrinkle free and odor free as well.
The shirt is not manufactured in the United States
Since a limited amount of shirts are manufactured, it could lead to a scarcity problem as the product becomes more in demand.
What does this mean for the future of the clothing industry if the claims made about this product are true?
If this shirt continues to perform up to its claims, the material could potentially be sold in bulk to other textile manufactures on a global scale for the production of various items of clothing not exclusive to men’s Oxford shirts. The sportswear industry would more than likely benefit the most due to the nature of the fabric. Wool&Prince could stand to gain more capital from the bulk sale of the fabric rather than manufacturing the shirts exclusively.
Fashion, fitness, and information technology have merged to create a line of various wearable media gadgets (most of which can be worn on the wrist) that track certain elements of your daily activity. Some of the most popular gadgets include the Nike+ FuelBand (a collaborative effort between Nike and Apple), the FitBit One and Zip, Jawbone Up, and the Body Media Fit. So what is the craze?
Due to all of the attention this product has received, I decided to take a trip to an official Nike store to experience the product in person versus online. I found my way to the two manned display which housed the product that utilizes man and machine to create a cybernetic experience, the Nike+ FuelBand. Upon my first glance, the bracelet appeared to be stylish and aesthetically pleasing. A number of consumers were huddled around the display asking various questions in reference to how the gadget collects data, size availability, color offerings, and the material used to make the product. The most interesting question asked by a potential owner was, “Do you have this in purple?” From that moment on I realized that this device is not just for measuring fitness, it is also a fashion accessory that can measure one’s ability to communicate fashion savvy by wearing the band. Furthermore, it opens the door for unlimited data collection.
The Nike+ FuelBand fits on the left or right wrist and is worn like a bracelet. It is made with thermoplastic rubber called TPE and polypropylene. The bracelet comes in sizes ranging from small to large with each band containing a spacer that can enlarge the bracelet for an even more custom fit. It comes in four colors: black, white, Black Ice and White Ice (translucent in appearance). The band has 20 LED lights that range from red, yellow, and green to serve as signifiers of goal attainment. There are an additional 100 white LED lights which enables the user to view FuelPoints, calories, and steps taken that can be cycled through with the use of one button.
How it works
The FuelBand allows the user to track calories, steps, and activity (which can be limited by the type of physical activity the user engages in). The inside of the band contains a triaxial accelerometer that senses movement and the tilt of the device. FuelPoints are generated as a result of physical activity which is measured by oxygen kinetics. It contains two lithium polymer batteries and can be charged via a built in USB, which also is the clasp that closes the bracelet. Additionally, the band has a built in Bluetooth chip that allows the user to sync activity information on the internet or with their smartphone. An online article released by Mashable stated that there are over 11 million Nike+ users. The users earn more the 1 billion points a day, which is enough to power 6,772 houses daily.
Why it works
In the article “7 Reasons Why Wearables are Poised To Disrupt Our Lives”, The Nike+ FuelBand is hailed as being highly regarded in wearable products because it is a wearable device that has the ability to house our body’s information. A panel of developers, designers and analyst engaged in a brainstorming session and the following seven reasons why wearables are poised to disrupt our lives were noted as such:
The smartphone’s novelty has worn off, and people want new toys.
Now that digital has impacted our lifestyle (we already share our lives on Facebook), digital can become a lifestyle product (we’ll let the tech seep deeper into our personal lives).
These devices can appeal to techies, by looking like tech, or everyday people, by looking like fashion.
Sensor-based appcessories are unlocking data that we’ve never had before on the human body and the way we live.
By blending so well into our lives (and our bodies), wearables can paradoxically reduce the time we spend on our cell phones, which everybody wants.
A wearable’s immediate feedback can guide us to choices that make us feel better, immediately.
But all this data will merge atoms and bits in ways we can’t predict.
I found this article and short video very interesting because it brings up the fashion and technology aspect of the wearable devices, such as the Nike+ FuelBand. I purchased one of these bracelets to get a first-hand experience with the product. I found myself enjoying the bracelet as well as thinking of all the possibilities the evolution of this technology could unleash.
The bracelet is stylish and non-obtrusive; the user typically wants other people to see it and ask questions about it.
The bracelet makes you feel like you belong to an exclusive community that at least on the surface are interested or diligent about being fit and enjoying an active lifestyle.
This data is secure to a certain extent, but it can be retrieved to create reports that analyze:
The amount of FuelPoints that are earned collectively at any given time (minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, etc.)
Activities that are engaged in most frequently
Collective amount of calories tracked at any given time
The FuelBand not only serves as a fashion statement as previously described, but it also serves as a possible gateway to a lot of data that can be tracked. Currently, the band utilizes a Bluetooth chip to sync your fitness activity to the Web or your smartphone. What if this device or others similar to it are programmed to not only track our activity, but also track where we are at any given point in which we are wearing the device? What if this device can be used in the field of biometrics to help identify us and give us access to things that are intended to be secure and only accessible to the individual wearing the device? It is only a matter of time until such devices will become completely integrated into our lives just as the cell phone, tablets, and computers have been. However, the early adopters have the opportunity to shape the direction in which the devices will propel and be further utilized in the future.
Maybe one day the man asking for a purple bracelet will be able to change the color himself with the push of a button or maybe the bracelet can be programmed to change colors based on the mood and emotional state of the user.
It’s interesting to see the full video of Hussein Chalayan in contrast to the animated GIFs that first hit my radar by way of Errolson Hugh’s Twitter and then later by an io9 post. Both broadcasts were distillations of the video down to those few key moments in which models tug at their dress only to have them transform into something entirely different while they walk. The idea is compelling, and the GIFs are absolutely hypnotic, but there’s a few things I find interesting here: