Inside Out: the softer side of smart clothing

We have written several posts about advances in smart clothing and innovative materials improving our lives in myriad tangible ways, but what about their ability to help with some of the issues that we may have that are more fuzzy and below the surface? Can fashion tech go further to improve the lives of those who may be grappling with some emotional issues as well? In the past two years there have been several exhibits that have touched upon the potential of reading emotionally spurred physiological cues - namely the Coded Couture show this past spring and the TechStyle show last summer. This should not lead you to believe that more emotionally tuned-in creations have to be relegated to the theoretical worlds of art museums and scientific experiment. Pioneers in the field of wearable tech have already begun to develop garments that will read emotional cues, assist with psychological issues and physical ailments, and get the the heart of what ails us.

products that have the potential to change lives

SenseWear Clothing produces a collection of garments and accessories to help alleviate stress and also evaluate the emotional condition of the wearer so that they or their caregivers can attend to their needs before a situation escalates. Their work is inspired by sensory therapies addressing Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) often associated with autism and Asperger syndrome.

SenseWear Clothing developing products to help manage stress

Kristi Kuusk creates garments with touch sensitive technology such as Vibe-ing which uses vibration technology to heal the body. Sensors and conductive fibers knit into the garment respond to the wearer to stimulate pressure points to relieve tension. It is meant to be a means of self care that can be used in everyday life.

Empatica's Embrace wristband is designed to help seizure sufferers manage their health condition. The device does this by monitoring electrodermal activity which is present during times of stress, fear, anxiety, and even happy excitement. This data is tracked and analyzed, and the device will even making real-time suggestions to help the wearer avoid a potential episode by sending them a signal to take a moment to relax if possible.

The true cost of how toxic the fast fashion industry is, and the waste it produces.

In addition to fabrics utilizing conductive material to communicate or record info about the wearer, there are also projects in the works to react to the wearer's environment in regards to stress triggers. There are even wearables that are using scent based therapies.

It seems the sky is the limit as far as the potential to improve the lives of wearers, and the designers, inventors and creatives pursuing the next big breakthrough in wearable technology are continually coming up with new ideas.

“In the future wearable technology could be designed to be more responsive, and may be able to relieve patients from various health conditions...”

- Emanuela Corti of Sense-Wear Clothing

The future of wearables in psychology and ethical dilemmas to consider

Whenever such big strides in technology are made, there is always a need to weigh the benefits against the potential pitfalls. Advances in in science, especially medicine, are rife with ethical dilemmas that beg consideration before proceeding. Some of the advances in wearable tech could have far-reaching repercussions, both positive and negative.