CHICAGO — If you thought we had a few years before the world turns into a real-life Black Mirror episode, think again. Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry’s latest exhibit, “Wired to Wear,” makes it very clear that the future of fashion goes well beyond a smart watch that can pay for your coffee. With more than 100 innovations from 15 countries — and featuring brands like Google, Nike and Intel — the exhibit is dedicated to the future of wearable technology. Some of the items in the exhibit are in production, some are near completion and others were constructed to showcase the possibilities of new technology in need of a mind-blowing application. Looking for something to make a statement at one of this summer’s music festivals? How about a tattoo you can play like a keyboard.
“Wired to Wear” runs through May 2020. Here are five of our favorite things from the exhibition.
TOUCHSCREEN SKIN TATTOO
Microsoft’s temporary Smart Tattoo by Asta Roseway and Paul Johns transforms a gold leaf skin embellishment into an interface. DuoSkin can be added to an existing tattoo or can be used on its own, and allows you to control your mobile devices, become a living keyboard or store information on your skin — all while making a major style statement.
Is your mind blown yet?
A SMART JEAN JACKET
OK, Levi’s is always in style, especially its denim jackets. But now through a collab with Google, Levi’s has updated the iconic jacket to have touchscreen functionality.
Just imagine tapping your cuff to change a song or turn on the lights or feel a vibration when your Uber is arriving.
Micro-thin Jaquard threads are sewn into the fabric, allowing sensor grids throughout the jacket to function as a touchscreen that links to your mobile device via Bluetooth. As the technology advances, the jacket updates just like your smartphone — and it’s machine-washable.
You can stop imagining, because this is actually happening. The first iteration of the jacket launched in 2017, retailing for $350.
YES, MY DRESS IS WATCHING YOU
Commissioned by the Museum of Science and Industry, designer and technologist Behnaz Farahi created the Iridescence dress to highlight vision-activated technology.
The collar of the dress is constructed with a tiny camera and 200 quills that follow and react with lifelike behavior to a viewer’s facial expressions and movements. For example, when the collar detects an angry face looking at it, the iridescent quills express anxiety with jittery movements. As the viewer moves around the dress, the quills shift to follow the viewer, creating a new pattern and shape in the collar of the dress.
This takes the mood ring to an entirely different level.
DOES THIS MEAN WE CAN SKIP THE GYM?
Feeling tired? Can’t get off the couch? No biggie. Seismic Powered Clothing literally has your back. The lightweight undergarment, which fuses apparel and robotics, provides extra strength for standing and sitting. “It essentially has the equivalent of a pulley system in it. They call it electronic muscles,” said Kathleen McCarthy, director of collections and head curator at the Museum of Science and Industry.
A DIGITAL BACKPACK TO IMPRESS YOUR FRIENDS
Toss the Game Boy because now you can play old-school video games on the LED illuminated PIX Backpack, which can be customized from your mobile device. You can also fulfill your inner artist and embellish the flexible, programmable screen with designs from a library, or created from scratch using your smartphone and sent via Bluetooth. Pix also allows you to display the time, weather and your mobile notifications through PIX’s widgets.
Applications that are in the works include designs for biking, so you can, for instance, connect the backpack to a device on your handlebars that will allow you to signal (on the back of your backpack) with a digital arrow when you are turning left or right, or display a stop sign to indicate that you are about to stop.
Fresh out of campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, the backpack was created by a group of young inventors from Ukraine and is available now.
High Profile on 04/21/2019