Crafting soft wearables with and through digital technologies

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Abstract

As wearables and e-textiles enter into another hype cycle (Tomico et al. 2017), we find ourselves with the opportunity to reflect on the work done and the work remaining. In doing this, we hope to cast a light on the moment where we are now, the tools available to us, the materials in development and always centrally the human body in its complexity and unchanging biological functionality.

The field of wearable soft things or soft wearables (Tomico and Wilde 2016) has developed from a niche concern to an increasingly well documented area of research. As high performing materials have become more widely available and our systems of making and production more sophisticated, we see wearable electronics projects emerge not only from the arts and fields of technology, but also from fashion, design and engineering. With the so-called 4th industrial revolution promising a much more flexible and automated factory work floor, we may soon see increasing levels of simple traditional electronics incorporated into soft things in our everyday lives (Andersen and Berzowska 2006).

In the Wearable Senses lab (Tomico et al. 2014) however, we believe that the future of soft wearables is now broadening up to include programing, not just electronics and interactive behaviour, but the programming the whole garment in terms of its material, its form, its manufacture, its level of personalisation, associated services, and its direct relation to both its user and the social cultural
and economic structures around it.

In the following, we will provide an overview of projects created in the Wearable Senses lab in the last 7 years. We know these projects intimately as we have in turn seen them built, tested, worn, analysed and repaired. By looking through these projects we see thee levels of complexity in the manner
in which they each relate to the data in and around their own production and designs. The three levels are the product level, the system level and the service level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-89
JournalTemes de Disseny
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019

Keywords

  • composite materials, hybrid crafts, ultra-personalization, generative design, interaction design, dynamic fabric, digital craftsmanship, product service systems, soft wearables

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