Friday, November 24, 2017

IoT - The Internet of Textiles?

I think it's a fairly good assumption from a glance at my blog that I'm interested in technology, in particular mobile technology. What some of you may not already know is that I'm very keen on arts and crafts. I particularly enjoy stitching of all kinds. I started sewing clothes for my dolls when I was probably about 6 years old. I learned embroidery at age 9 when I made my first sampler. By the age of 10, I had my own sewing machine and had started making clothes for myself. I still enjoy all forms of stitching and textiles.

It would be about 10 years ago when I first met the Cute Circuit team who invented the bluetooth-enabled 'hug shirt' (pictured). This was ground breaking at the time. It appeared at Mobile World Congress a few times. I think I probably tried it there about 10 years ago. I experienced the sensors squeezing me based on messages the jacket was being sent. The idea behind it being that two people could send another person a virtual hug via the sensors on the shirts they were wearing. It remember it felt a bit weird. It doesn't feel like a human hug, but, like Pavlov's Dogs, one could learn to associate it with a message of love or warmth from a partner.

The same team then went on to experiment with clothing that lights up and have become pioneers, and perhaps, the world's best at doing this. The video below shows an example of their work for U2 from 4 years ago. They've also worked with other artists including Sarah Brightman and Katy Perry. These garments don't come cheap as they're labour intensive to create, but they're highly effective for a stage show or if you want to make an entrance. You can buy some of their items from their website now. The handbag is my favourite but a little outside my price range!

U2.COM - 'She's Gonna Dream Out Loud...' from CUTECIRCUIT on Vimeo.

There are other artists working in this space and it's growing. As is the #fashtech thing. #fashtech covers a wide range of fashion and technology cross overs from providing mirrors that show you in different outfits without you having to undress, to new ways of selling and distributing merchandise as well as technology you wear - from Fitbit devices to new fabrics to connected jewellery to 3D printed clothes and shoes and much more. Some of the innovations will never make it beyond an innovation lab, but some of these things will break through to the mainstream, but it's early days for most.

That's why I was very happy to discover the e-Stitches group who meet every other month or so at the V&A Museum (my favourite London museum). Apparently the group is now about 100 members strong and their focus is on e-textiles. I don't know a lot about this stuff at all, so I'm interested to find out more.

Their next meet-up is on 9 December, is free to attend and will be at the V&A in London (details will be posted here). I'm putting the date in my diary to check it out. I shall report back on what I discover there.

Day 24/30 NaBloPoMo

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