Conductive Tattoos Turn Your Skin Into An Interface was last modified: August 24th, 2016 by Syuzi Pakhchyan
Leather grown in a lab; parkas made from protein; and textiles printed from algae are a few examples of how designers are using synthetic biology to craft a more sustainable future for fashion. Just as nylon and other chemically, engineered synthetic fabrics shaped the fashion industry in the 1950s and 60s, the next material revolution is poised to combine biology and chemistry to offer something undisputedly new and different.
Below are four young companies engineering the future of sustainable fashion creating the most powerful mix of nature and technology.
Suzanne Lee, the Creative Chief Officer of Modern Meadow, has a built a reputation on being a thought leader on the future of fashion. Her book “Fashioning the Future : Tomorrow’s Wardrobe” is hands down my favorite book on fashion futurism and remains relevant today.
Modern Meadow recently closed a $40M series B round to commercialize biofabricated leather grown from collagen from an animal’s cells and engineered to custom structural and aesthetic requirements.
Spiber has an ambitious mission statement: To make a huge impact on the world by “maximizing things that bring goodness to others.” What this translates too is a lofty endeavor to use proteins to create the next generation of sustainable materials. Unlike Modern Meadow, Spiber is investigating synthetic spider silk in hopes to translate the complex combination of amino acids into an industrial material.
Their first prototype created on a manufacturing line is the Moon Parka made in collaboration with North Face. Made with spider fibroin-based protein material QMONOS, the Moon Parka is designed to endure the harsh conditions of the south pole.
MuSkin is another leather alternative made from mushrooms. The material feels like suede and boasts performance properties such as breathability and is a natural water repellent.
The best part is that material is available today and can be purchased here.
BioBots is a 3D bioprinter that can print tissues. The machine uses a variety of available bioinks that work with a various cell types. The cost of BioBot is around 10K making tissue printing relatively affordable.
Lastly, if you’re curious to grow your own microbial cellulose, here is a video to get you started:
Speculative design is a provocative tool that generates more conversations than sales. Writing speculative future narratives challenge designers to focus more on the “why” with end results that typically straddle the world of art and design, technology and fiction, commerce and social good.
Aerochromics is a speculative fashion project crafted by Nikolas Bentel that imagines a future dystopia marred by pollution. The environmentally reactive garments become a tool to bring awareness to environmental pollution — making the invisible toxins that we breathe visible.
The garments react to three pollutants: carbon monoxide, particle pollution and radioactivity.
The carbon monoxide detecting sweaters change color when the pollutant is detected and return to its normal state when the toxin is no longer in the environment. The garments work in a similar fashion to carbon monoxide spot detectors.
Unlike the carbon monoxide sweaters, the particle pollution detecting garments use electronics to sense pollution and, in response, heat areas of the garment printed with thermochromic dyes.
The last wearable is a reactive radioactivity shirt uses another smart dye that changes color in response to gamma or electron beam radiation. The clever part of the design is that the shirt loses its capability to switch back to its normal state once you have been overexposed to too much radiation.
The best athletic wear is typically designed to enhance performance — without sacrificing style of course. Pauline Van Dongen’s latest collaboration with Skynfeel — a condom brand none-the-less — translates an atypical material into experimental performance apparel for long jumpers.
The long jump suit is designed with “dragonfly wing-inspired” flaps that remain flat during the run but open wide during the jump when the athlete twists and turns. The flaps are constructed from a thin layer of latex and reinforces by a geometric laser cut grid. The claim is that the aerodynamic design results in more airtime.
The end result is a lightweight garment inspired by biomimicry. The material explorations are novel, the design desirable, even if the intentions for a condom brand to explore fitness seems at first unconventional.
If you can only attend one wearable technology conference this year, then Smart Fabrics 2105 should be at the top of your list. What differentiates this conference from all the others is its diversity of speakers. From researchers working in corporations and academic institutions to design consultancies imagining the user experience of future wearables, the Smart Fabrics conference offers you the opportunity to meet divergent thinkers all invested in the future of wearable technology.
The Smart Fabrics conference takes place May 11 -13 at the Hyatt Regenchy in San Fancisco. And as a member of the Fashioning Tech community, you’re in luck! Use the code FT15 for a $200 discount.
Hope to see you there!
Some highlights from the agenda are presented below. You can access full agenda here.
Workshop: Hacking the Tiny Screen
May 11, 2014: 8:00- 11:30
In this 3-hour workshop with Margarita Benitez and Markus Vogl participants will work with the TinyScreen to create their own wearable device. The amazingly tiny screened pendant features the possibility of playing video or image slideshows or working with other TinyCircuit modules to create other tiny applications. During the workshop we will walk through the specs of the hardware, video or image conversion and uploading your image or video sequence to the TinyScreen hardware. We will have cases available but will also cover the basics on designing a case for the TinyScreen and will have a 3D printer on hand if you want to print your own design. At the end we will cover other add-on modules that are available via TinyCircuits and speak to other possible applications that the TinyScreen can be used for.
Expanding World Views for Wearable Design
Denise Gershbein | Executive Creative Director of Frog Design
s technology evolves, we can see design moving closer and closer to the body – from wearables and smart fabrics as we know them today, to the embedded technologies of the future. These advancements are impacting human interactions within the context of society at large, and even driving us to reconsider who we are as individuals. Understanding social, educational, philosophical and other related frameworks becomes increasingly relevant, because the way people chose to adorn or modify themselves physically can heavily impact their personal identity and their place in society. As design gets closer to the body, designers must expand their world view as they change the meaning of what it means to be human.
The Hardware Challenge: Going From Prototype to High Volume Manufacturing
Scott Miller | CEO and Co-Founder of Dragon Innovation
Fueled by 3D Printing, Arduino and Raspberry Pi, and crowdfunding, getting from idea to prototype has never been easier. However, the journey from prototype through manufacturing to finished product in customers’ hands remains a challenge. Many well-funded and technologically savvy teams fail to survive the manufacturing journey. In his presentation Scott N. Miller will discuss some of the common failure points and how to successfully avoid them. His mission is to help hardware companies successfully bridge the gap between prototype and high volume manufacturing.
Cindy Strobach uses red cabbage dye and electrical household appliances to create fascinating colorful printed textiles. She created the work for her Final Show project at London’s Royal College of Art.
Part of a larger exploration into the invisible phenomena of our everyday environment, the Electro Colour series reveals the hidden lives of two electrical appliances, a speaker and a toaster. Working with water electrolysis, which changes the water’s acidity level depending on its proximity to positive or negative electrodes, she uses red cabbage dye on silk as a pH indicator. This allows us to see the acidic and alkaline properties of the process as colored patterns.
There’s so much to like about this work – on one level the pieces can be appreciated as aesthetically-pleasing and well-crafted. Conceptually, there is a kind of communication between the artist and the lowly devices that inhabit her home. The more poetic among us might say she give the appliances a voice, but personally, I’m above all delighted by the beautiful science-demo aspect of the work.
If you like this work as much as I do and you’re in London, you have a few more days to catch the exhibition, which runs until 29 June 2014 at the London College of Art.
Moving one step closer to developing electronic skin, Yonggang Huang, a Northwestern University professor and John A. Rogers, a University of Illinois professor, have created a thin, flexible eletronic patch for sophisticated wireless health monitoring.
The patch moves and stretches with the body and incorporates commercial, off-the-shelf chip-based electronics.
Once these patches become inexpensive and disposable, I can see a wide variety of applications that go beyond the medical and health monitoring field.
The Smart Fabrics Conference, taking place April 23-25, is one my favorite wearable technology conferences to attend. From hands-on DIY workshops to insightful talks on how to get your product to market, Smart Fabrics offers a great discussion on where the wearable technology industry is today and wear it’s headed.
Early Bird Deadline Expires THIS Friday, March 14! Book NOW!
Some highlights for 2014 conference:
Ivan Poupyrev, Principle Research Scientist, Walt Disney Imagineering
Dr. Ivan Poupyrev is a Principle Research Scientist at the Walt Disney Company, where he directs an Interactive Technology Group in the Disney Research Pittsburgh laboratory which is tasked with dreaming up and developing future technologies for Disney parks, resorts, and cruises. His research focuses on inventing new technologies and interaction paradigms that seamlessly blend digital and physical interactivity in devices, everyday objects, and living environments on a very large scale. His research and innovations span a broad range of topics including virtual and augmented reality, haptics, sensing and actuation, interactive biological matter, energy harvesting, 3D printing and additive manufacturing and more.
What Traditional Technology Firms Can do to Enable Smart Clothing?
Steven Holmes, VP New Devices Group & General Manager -Smart Device Innovation Team, Intel Corporation
Steven Holmes is vice president of the New Devices Group and general manager of the Smart Device Innovation team at Intel Corporation. Holmes and his team are chartered with developing products and technologies that will enhance and extend Intel’s product portfolio into new areas of computing, and to position the company to compete and lead new growth markets going forward.
Prior to joining Intel in June 2012, Holmes delivered an extensive list of award-winning products. Most recently as product director at Nike, Inc. he launched Nike+ Fuel Band*, Nike+ Training and Basketball*, and Nike+ GPS SportWatch*.
Fashion-Tech: Eyes on the Design
Anouk Wipprecht, Artist, Designer, Curator and Lecturer
Dutch based designer Anouk Wipprecht is working emerging field of “fashiontech”; a rare combination of sartorial knowhow combined with engineering smarts and style, she has in a very short period created an impressive body of tech-enhanced designs bringing together fashion and technology in an unusual way. Based on microcontrollers and sensors, she creates technological couture; with background in fashion design combined with engineering, science and interaction design, she constructs systems around the body that tend towards artificial intelligence; projected as ‘host’ systems on the human body, her designs move, breath, and react to the environment around them.
Full agenda can be found here.
It was kind of funny to see ElectroLoom and OpenKnit pop up in my feeds in the same week. They’re both being talked about as “clothing printers” and have similar goals: to decentralize clothing production in order to reduce the embodied energy of a garment. However, the technologies and philosophies of the projects couldn’t be more different.
OpenKnit is a DIY, open-source, arduino-powered knitting machine project by artist and designer Gerard Rubio. The promo video tells you everything you need to know:
Now, you might be watching the video and thinking the knitted results are rather… avant-garde… Having worked with knitting machines, I can tell you this is an impressive project, and being open source, is designed to be improved upon by its users.
In addition, the Do Knit Yourself website accompanies the OpenKnit project as an online repository for open source, user-generated OpenKnit patterns. Like Thingiverse for knitting. The project encourages individual expression and involvement in clothing design, attempts to build a community around the technology and challenges the fashion status quo (as shown in the video by changing clothes in high street shop windows).
It’s early days for both OpenKnit and Electroloom, but both projects offer exciting possibilities. Once the initial technological hurdles have been overcome, I’d love to see both projects developing their style-factor a bit more proactively.