Future Culture

Futurist Writer Lei Kalina writes her tongue-in-cheek musings and ramblings on the growing worldwide phenomenon of the growth of the Future Culture in the 21st Century

Future Culture In The 21st Century

Future Culture In the 21st Century

Futures Studies, Foresight, or Futurology , according to Wikipedia, is the science, art and practice of postulating possible, probable, and preferable futures and the worldviews and myths that underlie them. Futures studies (colloquially called "Futures" by many of the field's practitioners) seeks to understand what is likely to continue, what is likely to change, and what is novel. Part of the discipline thus seeks a systematic and pattern-based understanding of past and present, and to determine the likelihood of future events and trends. Futures is an interdisciplinary field, studying yesterday's and today's changes, and aggregating and analyzing both lay and professional strategies, and opinions with respect to tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Mobile Dress: Fashion Gets Smart

FANCY YOURSELF in the middle of a crowded party, with each and every party animal you can think of present in attendance, all wired up with their techie gadgets galore. And then a phone rings, with everybody reaching out to their gadgets, but all you do is raise your hand to your lips to answer the call.

Watch how everyone’s jaws drop , all eyes glued on you and your , ehem, M-Dress, a.k.a. The Mobile Dress, working with a standard SIM card, using soft circuitry and gesture-recognition software, and functioning like a mobile phone.

Thanks to UK firm Cute Circuit , an interactive design consultancy and research lab founded by Francesca Rosella and Ryan Genz specializing in wearable computing, art installation and education, the group which invented the M-Dress , and currently earning raves.

University of Wales Smart Clothes and Wearable Technology Director Jane McCann told CNN the clothing and electronics industries are collaborating in an unprecedented way -- describing this interesting fusion of futuristic fashion and technology, wherein electronics are embedded in clothing fabrics as "a new industrial revolution."

McCann's prediction for the next-decade futuristic fashion: clothes will have all kinds of
built-in functionality, as designers dabble with blue tooth technology, sensors, and electronic gadgets incorporated in garments.

"A garment might have devices on it to help you find your way somewhere, or to tell you how fit you are. It could tell you where someone is to help you meet them, or tell you what's on at a museum or club," she told CNN.

Still, analysts observe that the fashion industry is , yes, still “lagging behind” as far as wearable technology is concerned, as compared to sports and fitness industries leading in its tech innovations via its built-in pedometers and active wear with integral iPod controls.

McCann agrees: "Wearable technology is coming through into useful everyday clothing more than it is on the catwalk. The catwalk still treats wearable tech as flashing earrings or sensational things.”

Meantime, seems like there's no stopping the ingenuity and creative juices of maverick fashion designers, getting bolder and more daring in their fashion innovations. Chinese designer Vega Zaishi Wang used electroluminescent lamps to light up her creations at Central St. Martin's graduate show earlier this year,

Hussein Chalayan's "Readings" fashion collection made use of moving lasers to emit bright red beams, plus Swarovski crystals on the dresses "to deflect and absorb the beams", while his other innovations include putting mini-LEDs --- thousands of them --- in stunning dresses which show moving video images, blurred by the garments' fabrics.

Another Chinese designer , Angel Chang , collaborated with German artist Johannes Wohnseifer to create a range incorporating a world time zone map made with heat-sensitive ink; and if you touch New York on the map, it turns yellow . She further worked with Noble Biomaterials to create the "self-heating vest" : a conducting silver fabric transmitting heat to keep the wearer warm, and without any wires, to boot.


And there's more: Joanna Berzowska and Di Mainstone's Luttergil Dress, with seams slowly opening and peeling, with its movements regulated by filaments of shape-memory alloy and controlled by an electronics board ; Alphamicron is working on the so-called liquid crystal technology to create color-changing clothing ( such as sequins getting darker when exposed to sunlight) ; Amanda Parkes makes use of piezoelectric materials which generate power from the wearer's movements , with energy stored in a small battery and later discharged into a minuscule device ; Fabrican, a spray-on fabric device used to personalize existing fabrics, or sprayed on directly to the skin to "make fabric" .

Even moving flowers on the clothes? Yep: Kukka flowers by Berzowska, Marcello Coelho and Hanna Soder, which close and open , using a shape-memory alloy called Nitinol to make the flowers slowly change shapes .

And what about the "environmentalist skirt" ? Stephanie Sandstrom's EPA dress , fitted with sensors which measure air quality , simply crumples and "cringes" --- in response to "bad air" .

Kerri Wallace's Motion Response Sportswear uses thermochromic ink to change color with body temperature ; while Yun Ding's Aqua Chameleon Swimsuit used photochromic ink, thermochromic ink , and UV thread which changes color when exposed to sun, water and varying temperature. Philips' Lumalive Textiles , meantime, is a light-emitting fabric containing LEDs which display text or moving images.

As far as futuristic fashion technology is concerned, well, the future looks bright, indeed.


McCann's predictions:
mass customization will emerge as a major trend in clothing technology, when people go into sizing booths to get measurements of their sizes and shapes, or perhaps a microchip used to customize clothing . "In theory, if you've got technology that's cutting out garments one at a time it could produce clothes informed by our own size requirements."


"And you might want built-in controls for an MP3 player but I might like heart-beat monitoring. I'd like mine to have a digital print of the sleeve but my friend wants a picture of her boyfriend on the back. Some of that could happen in the 10 years," McCann adds.

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