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 »

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 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.

Dec 192013
 

If you are in class, teaching a class, or in a business meeting, everyone has had the awkward experience off their phone going off at the wrong times.  My project doesn’t make people think about what’s changing or trending.  It adds the affordance of having another option to receiving a text or phone call other than ring tone, vibrate, or silent.  A simple pattern would light up if are getting a phone call and flashing light if have received a text.  You could also remove the board and light and place into a different sleeve allowing a person to choose what design they want to wear on any given day.

My project idea was very simple.  I wanted to make a wrist cuff that would light up a certain way based on if you received a text or getting a call.  However, getting this simple idea to work was not easy at all.  My first problem began with an incompatible board.  I did not realize it incompatible until after I spent several hours, with the help of Harrison, soldering the pins to the Bluetooth module thinking that was the problem.  Once I got that out of the way I was given a loner board and battery source.  Because of the new components, my idea of it being switchable sleeves was gone.  The new component made the wrist cuff bulky.  After finally being able to connect to the Bluetooth, I ran into the problem of not finding any program that would allow the arduino and android talk to each other.  I went through dozen of programs.  Some had the features I needed to get the task done but it didn’t have the option to talk over Bluetooth.  Other were only able to connect to the Bluetooth and that was about it.  I even tried to go a roundabout way by having one program perform the task I needed to get done.  Then try writing a code that would turn on the lights when the Bluetooth was on.  Which didn’t work because either I didn’t write the correct code(which is possible) or pins for the Bluetooth don’t work like the switch or button.  I was given the option to try to write a program for the android but there was no way to learn to write the code in a short amount of time (having four other finals to complete took priority).

After giving up knowing  I would not be able to make the arduino and android talk to each other I moved on to just sewing the parts together.  Because this wrist cuff was bigger I didn’t have to cut certain size pieces of cloth.  I decided to use the folds that were already there so all I do was measure how much cloth I needed and cut off the rest.  Then I sewed the lights and board into the interfacing, which I then stuck into the sleeve.  Because of the different power source, I had to sew that to the outside of the wrist cuff.  But because the positive and negative were to far spaced out from the board and power source i was unable sew the conducive thread corrected.  Instead i just used the clips to provide power.  Since the wrist cuff formed to my wrist the components with the interfacing did not slide around.

I did not want leave the wrist cuff unsatisfactory so I decided to upload a simple code so the lights turn on.  So what I thought was a good idea fell short leaving me with the same thing we did in the first project.  What I’ve learned from this is that what might seem like simple idea in your head could be a strenuous feat to try to actually accomplish with technology.

Nymi – Your heartbeat is the password

 Posted by  Wearables  Comments Off on Nymi – Your heartbeat is the password
Oct 222013
 

The necessity for passwords to access your accounts, all the way up to accessing your phone, has slowly been increasing.  With each new device you have or new account you make you have to remember a new password.  However, some people like to use the same password on everything, which is very insecure.  A development team at Bionym Inc. is developing a wristband that will act as a password  for all your devices.

The Nymi lets you use your unique heartbeat to authenticate your identity.  The Nymi allows you to wirelessly access devices such as your computer, smartphone, and car.  When you clasp the Nymi around your wrist, it powers on. By placing a finger on the topside sensor while your wrist is in contact with the bottom sensor, you complete an electrical circuit. After you feel a vibration and see the LEDs illuminate, your Nymi knows that you are you and your devices will too. You will stay authenticated until your Nymi is taken off.  The Nymi also has motion sensors so you can add hand gestures to further authorize access to devices.  If you have the technology, the Nymi can open things like your house door or car door with a simple movement of your hand.

The Nymi is a slim wristband that fits to your wrist.  It will come in three colors white, black and orange.  I think that with such a sleek design people would be willing to wear it.  It is not some bulky watch that will be very noticeable.  The only reason people wouldn’t be willing to wear the Nymi is because they think it will be a very unsecure device that will fall easily to hackers and thieves.

The Nymi is still being developed.  They are willing to take on more people to help them add more possibilities with their product.  With it having the ability to detect your heartbeat, sense movements in your hand, and communicate via Bluetooth, it can be used for a multitude of tasks. 

http://www.getnymi.com/

Sep 242013
 

We live in a world where our pocket-sized supercomputers tell us the best place to have dinner, how to get there, and what the traffic is like, while our cars have sensors that warn us not to back in to the fire hydrant at the end of the driveway on our way out. With all of the technology that surrounds us and directs us through our daily life, it is a shame to know that the visually impaired, the people who need direction the most, largely still depend on the use of canes and service animals to navigate.

MIT named Anirudh Sharma as Indian Innovator of the Year under age 35 for his "Le Chal" project.

MIT named Anirudh Sharma as Indian Innovator of the Year under age 35 for his “Le Chal” project.

Anirudh Sharma, a 24 year old researcher in Bangalore, India, made it his goal to change that. He has designed the first low-cost, unobtrusive, haptic shoe for the blind. The project has been eloquently named “Le Chal” which is a Hindi translation of “Take Me There”.

The shoe works in partnership with a smartphone application which can use Bluetooth to connect any GPS enabled smartphone to the shoe. The shoe itself contains small vibrational actuators on each side, as well as proximity sensors, and is powered by an Arduino Lilypad, all of which are located in the interior of a completely normal looking shoe.

The user speaks his desired destination into the voice activated smartphone app, which finds the best route via the phone’s GPS system, and gives the user vibrational cues on how to get there. Also, when the user comes within proximity of an object that could obstruct his path, the actuators on that side of the shoe begin to vibrate, getting stronger at closer range, alerting the user of the object’s location and the direction to navigate around it.

Possibly the best part of this system is how unobtrusive it is. The visually-impaired rely on their sense of hearing to understand what is going on around them, so a directional assistive device that used vocal or sound cues would impede upon that. The quiet vibrational cues free up the rest of the user’s senses.

This product is still in the testing phase and is projected to be released before the end of 2013. If testing goes well, this innovative product has the possibility to free the visually-impaired from their canes and service animals within certain environments, making them feel empowered and independent. However, some places (specifically many large US cities) are not built to be very pedestrian-friendly, and a service animal would likely remain the safest means of navigation. But, having the freedom to make that choice, and to travel safely and independently in pedestrian-friendly areas is a significant step in the right direction for the visually impaired.

Further Readings:

Anirudh Sharma’s Portfolio – Le Chal
The Economist – Footwear for the Blind
CrunchWear – Bluetooth Shoes Offer Independence for the Visually Impaired
MIT Technology Review – Haptic Shoe for the Visually Impaired