Created by Dutch FashionTech Designer Anouk Wipprecht, modeled in collaboration with Italian Architect Niccolo Casas, 3D printed at Materialise, and the awaited Intel Edison (announced at this years CES in Las Vegas) was incorporated into this garment to make it the smartest yet!
Anouk’s work tries to imagine how new high tech materials combined with smart sensors and actuators can impact the ways we connect, communicate and relate to one another. She believes technology will transform from the role of a ‘device’ towards functioning more as an integrated medium. As ‘wearable electronics’ like smart watches and trackers have fully arrived and it’s time to look at what more fashion has to offer, and the field of smart textiles and interactive garments have barely been explored. While there starts to arise more requests for ‘intelligent fashion’ from the consumer market, as noticed by the designer.
The Synapse Dress is an experiment between the wearer’s internal and external state, aimed at being ‘interactive fashion’ gone smart. this dress functions as an sensing garment, an dress based on bio-signals acting on the wearers behalf due to embedded sensors and actuators. Like Anouk’s other works, her over the top high-tech meets fashion style suits to a broad audience, to impress and ignite. But – the designer says – she also sees a very app-liable approach to the concept. As the dress logs your mood, and senses you far beyond one set of bio-signals only, the dress can become a little ecosystem which monitors your attitude, integrating the data from many sensors to put interaction back in the hands of the wearer, while co-evolving with the system around your body.
During Intel Development Forum 2014 (#IDF14) several different modes of interactions were explored on the Intel Edison micro-controller. The wearer was able to control the bright LEDs with manual control, remotely, with her mind, heart rate, and even proximity. She was able to capture photos and video during states of heightened concentration. These experiments with the participants and the data gathered inform a new series of connected and body sensing garments in the designers already impressive collection.
The dress headpiece is fitted with a sensor that tracks the wearers attention level. The Synapse Dress is aware of the wears heart rate via bluetooth. A wifi camera is controlled from the Edison micro controller to collect data about the wearers personal space when they are feeling anxious or in (dis)stress. An on-board web app collects and collate this data for review should the wearer want to know more about their emotional triggers, functioning as a ‘mood map’ of the wearer’s mind, and day.
The Synapse Dress is controlled from voice commands should the wearer want to express some of this sensor data or blast a person with 140W of blinding blue light if they come too close. These involuntary responds on the wearers behalf make for an interesting conversation about comfort while treasuring her personal space.
Unlocking the potential of body sensors, voice control, and intelligence within a garment gives a new view on ‘fashion design’ than we would have thought of in at the start of this century. On board intelligence that ‘lives’ with us while it’s nurturing our mood and protecting our personal space. These capabilities open up a new world for interaction designers to research possibilities and design products around the way people act without their devices. 2015 could be the year that things all come together to bring innovative feeling garments to the market.
As Anouk has been at the fore-front of, as well as challenging, the merging of technology and fashion. this year she really (and according to the designer “- finally”) notices a ‘switch’ in attitude towards the field in where the industry finally starts to see the potential of interactive garments. The field is now increasingly more visible and sought after she says, but a real shift can’t be made without changing our attitude towards production processes. We asked her a few short questions:
What immerse experience are you aiming for with Synapse?
With Synapse I did a first attempt to embed Intel Edison into a sensing garments, a dress that electronically relates to her mood and attitude as an window to her ‘inner self’. Focussed on the experience of the wearer and with the use of Intel Edison I try to challenge, embed and explore new kinds of sensing methods like wireless biosignals and also new outputs like an on board camera which for example – at the height of her focus, automatically capture her observations. All data can optionally be transferred wirelessly to an external display and at the end of the day she has an ‘mood board’ of her own day.
On the potential to incorporate a personal emotional state into a garment: Where my former works have been more based on the expressive ‘external’ notion (a dress that covers itself in smoke as soon as you step into her personal space, or attacks you when an intruder gets too close) this dress is focused on the ‘internal’ state wearer where my system will authorize, nurture and curate (private) inner feelings aimed on self-awareness. In a social sense it might be based on identity and the conception of identity as well. With fashion being the curator of a global sense for style and identity – wearable technologies like this might be the curator of the individual and the inner self instead. A ‘smarter sister’. As a sensing garment like this can create a very personalized approach based on ‘how you feel like’, rather than ‘who you are’.
What is the most significant change Intel Edison brought to your design?
Working with Intel Edison allows me much broader simultaneous sensing and actuating capabilities, envisioning my dialogue with fashion that behaves (or mis-behaves) intuitively as it enabled my vision to sense, process and connect wirelessly to share and transform the raw data of bio signals in real time. The dress is a collaboration with the New Devices Group at Intel, with whom we have much more things planned. This usage of the micro controller platform board in this setting is only the start, as many more utilizations spin my head.
With “wearables” concept being grown every day, – how do you see it affecting consumer fashion?
We came a long way but the fashion system and the technology system are still two completely different systems. This needs to collide much more in order for a new field like interactive garments and smart textiles to flourish. We are finally at a time that designers, technologists, companies and industries are talking and creating functional and admirable prototypes. Which is really great, therefore I am looking forward to the things to come.
Interactive fashion will define how we ‘buy’ our clothing; an electronic dress won’t be thrown away, but will be updated and upgraded, digital manufactured and tailor-made. I think for example, buying an electronic dress will affect our attitude towards our garment, as you will flow from being a ‘wearer’ to being the ‘user’ of your new dress.
How does the interactive aspect change how people think and feel about their clothing?
I think with the evolution of internet and new media, which is coined at creating more digital intimacy and engagement (example, intuitive interfaces, IoT, Web 3.0 etc), people will start to ‘search’ more for an immerse connection. Established bonds that we have with technology will morph into personal and intimate connections that we have with the interfaces around us. It is for the designers to create or recreate these new interfaces that can capture data and realize, re-communicate or argument this data through digital or physical means. As the concept of wearable technologies move from simple tracking devices it may well evolves to represent a more tight alliance between the body and technology significantly changing how we interface and interact with the world around us.
I saw two things when I started research into technological connectivity ten years ago; from an technologists point of view technology started to crawl closer to the skin, and from an fashion designer’s mindset – I noticed that fashion could be one of the most intimate interfaces we have around our bodies. At this point all the garments I like to create are a a bit dramatized demonstration of what certain interactions can convey, to provoke and inspire – but in broader view they relate to how I imagine new high-tech materials and on body interactions can impact the ways we connect, communicate and relate to one another. In my observation, technology will transform from the role of a ‘device’ towards functioning as an integrated medium. With fashion being the only truly ‘wearable’ – spread all over our bodies and increasingly integrated abilities to sense and compute, we can start to redefine how our future wardrobe will look like. I try to evoke and stir this discussion with my work.
Dresses as communication medium: functioning as interface or ‘medium’ between wearers body/skin and surroundings; a privilege to wear or a necessity very soon? Get in line, as this designer could release some designs to the market in a near future, if only to supply us with otherworldliness.