Mar 182013

Recently, one of the former contributors, Amy Pickup, for Fashioning Circuits was in a local publication called Art+Seek about her work with the LilyPad Arduino. The article entitled “SXSW Where High-Tech Meets High-Fashion” interviewed Pickup about her work with teaching a summer camp that encouraged young girls to get involved in the STEM fields through incorporating technology and fashion.

Pickup was not the only one that was interviewed by Lauren Silverman from Art+Seek, Silverman also spoke with Jennifer Darmour who is part of the Artefact group doing User Experience Design. Darmour is also the creator and designer behind a new innovation in the assimilation between clothing and technology. One of the designs by Darmour is a charcoal jacket that uses its zipper to control the volume of your music.

The idea is that when you’re unzipping your jacket, you are coming closer to somebody and so that you can have a more intimate conversation the volume goes down.

The company behind the newest prototype is, Electricfoxy which mission statement is, “Clothing is a core part of our expression and offers ways for us to communicate who we are and the context in which we live. Technology enables a richer connection with people and our environment and offers a new platform for communication and expression.” Darmour has created a prototype garment that literally weaves technology into a stylish piece of clothing is called, Ping.

Ping actually uses the same microcontroler that we use in Fashioning Circuits, LilyPad Arduino. However, what makes Ping so interesting is the way that it bridges human interaction with your online self and identity. Ping is a garment that allows you to send messages to your friends on Facebook with different gestures. With a development like this in the technology industry it could make smart phones obsolete for the use of social media and communication. Ping uses a sensor and the LilyPad to communicate wirelessly through gestures like lifting up your hood on your jacket to send an update to Facebook about how you are leaving the house. This new technology allows you to be hands free and almost unconsciously communicate with your social network without being directly connected to the Internet through conventional means.

Since Darmour used the LilyPad Arduino the garment allows you to create your own language. Specifically the garment was built with the Lilypad Xbee and the Facebook application allows you to use two way communication. The application assigns different tapping rythms to different groups of people so you can begin to create your own personalized feedback language that lets you know who is communicating to you and who is trying to connect. The garment is able to communicate to you through the microcontroler located on the shoulder of the garment that provides a subtle “tapping” feeling when a friend messages or sends a comment to you.

What will come next if this is just the first step in the direction that technology is leading us in the fashion industry? We are no longer just using technology for sporting good apparel but we are incorporating two way communication that bridges our physical self and our online self. As a last note it is interesting to ponder a quote from Electricfoxy.

As an outcome, rather than simply attaching technology to clothing, electricfoxy investigates garments that have electronics built directly into them resulting in a new aesthetic of form and behavior that become a core part of our expression, our identity, and our individuality.

  One Response to “Pushing the boundaries on self-expression”

  1. Such an interesting piece and I’m so glad that the folks at Art + Seek not only talked to Amy, but also mentioned Fashioning Circuits!

    I was really struck by this comment “This new technology allows you to be hands free and almost unconsciously communicate with your social network without being directly connected to the Internet through conventional means.”

    Given that one of the biggest things people complain about with smart phones is the way attention is diverted to the device, what do you think the implications are here? What about the privacy implications? We assume that frictionless communication is a good thing, but what are the potential drawbacks?

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