Nov 222014

The Metamorphosis line from Younghui Kim is a clothing line that detects alcohol levels in its wearers. A female dress responds to the wearer’s level of alcohol consumption through the use of colorful lights and expanding sleeves, while a male’s blazer responds by an expanding collar that slides out to cover the wearer’s face. Continue reading »

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

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.


Feb 232014

I own three dogs and I’m a busy graduate student with a full time job.  I’m not sure my dogs get the exercise they need.  If you’ve followed my blogs you k now I have an addiction to the Nike Fuelband.  I won’t say I’ve been using it lately, but I love the idea of gamification of fitness.  Well, guess what?  For those of us who go more than ten miles out of our way to buy the best food for our pets there is a wearable fitness tracker designed for them too.

According the CNBC’s Cadie Thomson fitness will be big business in the pet market, which is expected to reach $62 billion this year.

This new tracker, made especially for dogs, is designed by a New York based startup company called FitBark.  The company describes their product as a “device that attaches to a collar and collects data on the dog’s activity levels throughout the day. The data syncs to the FitBark application, so owners can check in whenever they want.”

This new tracking device will gauge a pet’s health and break down health trends so that the owner can be alerted when something is out of whack. 


Dog wearing FitBark

Now, I like the idea, but if my pet starts to win more Fuel points than do…

Feb 232014

This past week Steve Mann from the MIT Technology Review wrote an article titled Wearable Technology as a Human Right. I took umbrage with the article. Mann is well known in the Wearable Media arena because he founded MIT’s wearable computer project more than 20 years ago.

Steve Mann

Steve Mann


His argument centers around the idea that wearable media is not just a matter of fashion, but also of function, which means it should be a human right for people to use this media wherever and whenever they want. He’s not writing about the Nike’s FuelBand fitness tracker he’s writing about technology that helps people recognize faces or serves as a memory aid. He’s concerned that people who use this technology, let’s say Google Glass, to help them are being banned from certain places.

Though he doesn’t mention this specifically in several states casinos are banning people from wearing Google glasses. The idea is that the glasses would help poker or card players cheat while playing the game. This may seem harmless, but he asks what about people who are wearing the glasses in a bar or restaurant and get kicked out because of the technology? He writes that …we must balance [people’s] rights with their desire to allow other people privacy and confidentiality.

Here’s the so what – he and I differ. I agree there must be a fine line between privacy and freedom to wear what you choose, but with Edward Snowden’s admission of NSA spying when are we, citizens, going to get a break? I think I have a right to walk into a store, restaurant, or spa and have some expectation I won’t be recorded by individuals. I have accepted that these places are recording me just in case I steal something, but I’m not ready for some random guy to record me selecting Wheaties over Bran flakes in my local grocery store.

Feb 102014

This hypertext nugget is trying to school you who have no idea about wearable media, present company included.  So I thought I would help break down the graphic for you.

First, Wearable Tech, the graphic gives a solid definition of wearable tech, but let’s throw an example out there like the Nike fuelband. The Fuelband tracks numerous things going on in your life such as how many steps you take, how many calories you expended and when to call your mother – I am totally joking about the last part, but I bet with a little coding they could do it.

According to article about wearable media, The Rise of Wearable Media, more than 8 million Brits wear some form of wearable tech.  Apparently, the more media we wear, not consume mind you, the more intelligent we feel we are.  If I am looking down on you with a pair of Google glasses you are in for it – it’s smarty pants time.  Since I have the glasses on you’ve automatically lost. Game over.

This article and chart cover so many wearable fashions such as: 3D printed shows, Apple iWatch, Intamacy 2.0 Dress (you look that one up yourself) and numerous other devices.

My concern is not that we’re all wearing body enhancement devices, but what are they saying about us as consumers.  Do I need a twitter dress that shows users’ tweets?  Maybe?  Are we building art?

But in my lowly life as a graduate student I KNOW I want the Anti-Paparazzi Clutch Bag.  It reflects light from camera flashes to obscure users from paparazzi.  I want to obscure the fact that  I’m Sasquatch since I come out of my house every few months and I’m blind people by my lack of tan.

Here’s the so what.  As the wearable technology fashion starts to gain in popularity it is time for us to look at what good this technology will do.  Can we use the Fuelband to help track people with diabetes (if they choose) to make sure they are taking in the right amount of glucose and producing the right amount of insulin.

Can we use Google Glass for the soldiers and SWAT members who’s job it is to take apart bombs.  These glasses would give the soldiers a chance to give real time pictures to support tactical units to help out.

Or what if the twitter dress existed for the Arab Spring.  One person could protest by sending out messages to people all over the world wearing a twitter dress or pants or scarf.

And the paparazzi clutch?  Well, use it as a paparazzi clutch.

Purse that flashes a bright light that interferes with anyone trying to take a picture of the person with the clutch

Purse that flashes a bright light

Woman wearing a hood and Google Glass

Woman wearing a hood and Google Glass

Young woman wearing a dress that receives tweets

Young woman wearing a dress that receives tweets

Nike Fuelband

Nike Fuelband