A chip on your shoulder: wearable tech
In 2010, Katy Perry walked into the MET Costume Institute Gala wearing a dress that constantly changed colour. 3000 shimmering LEDs created the effect, with Perry lighting up like a rainbow in the couture dress designed by wearable tech company CuteCircuit. Back in 2009, Sony Ericsson and the London College of Fashion ran a contest to design digital clothing, and the winner was a Bluetooth-enabled cocktail dress that lit up when a call was received.
Wearable technology has more serious applications, such as HUD displays for the U.S. military. It was also at the forefront of Google’s recent attempt to create a ubiquitous, web-enabled, internet-of-things wearable computer in the form of the now-stalled Google Glass. Wearable tech includes fitness trackers, health monitoring, navigation tools, media devices, communication gadgets, and sometimes just as a fashion statement. But the fascination with digital textiles has not dimmed, and now there’s a course for it at the UK’s Nottingham Trent University.
Smart Textiles and Wearable Technology is a Summer School running for a week, introducing students to the world of smart textiles and how to create the wearable products of the future. It aims to help students develop a potential future wearable product that could apply to sportswear, lifestyle, fashion or healthcare, so you’d need to have an idea up front in order to hit the ground running and get the most out of the course.
The Summer School is run in conjunction with Kitronik, a local company that makes e-textiles and conductive thread used in the creation of ‘soft circuits’, or electronic clothes, powered by sewn-in processors . They also make switches, sensors and other wearable devices such as buzzers (!) that can be incorporated into clothes, providing a palette of possibilities for students on this course to create the next big thing in wearable tech.