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From Wearables To Soft Wear: Seamlessly Integrating Interactive Technology Into Fashionable Apparel

807 words - 4 pages

In industries where functionality is of predominant importance such as within sports, healthcare, security and safety, wearable technologies have already been successfully integrated into clothing (example?).
Not so within everyday wear. Smart Fashion is not yet common consumer technology, and besides some exceptional examples (which are?), electronically augmented fashion is generally known as being illuminated outfits reserved for stage performance or other special events. In this paper we discuss how Smart Fashion can find its way into everyday clothing. Which obstacles must be overcome and what design requirements must be fulfilled to seamlessly integrate interactive technology into fashionable apparel.
An interdisciplinary design research project at the Trier University of Applied Sciences constituted the basis for our investigations. The research is based on a cooperation between the Department of Fashion and the Department of Intermedia Design. It focuses mainly on psychological design aspects as well as on semiotic and aesthetic issues and will take place until the end of 2013.

Applying new technologies onto existing products often meets strong resistance, due to the fact that we already have an established conceptions about these everyday artifacts. Along with these conceptions come certain habits and behaviors related to almost every product we use, and which are very hard to challenge(some ref would be nice here). Especially non-tech items such as every day apparel are difficult to convert into high-tech products(or here).
There are generally two ways of approach to this dilemma(statement, i.e. ref or research result?): The technology can physically completely disappear into a known product, i.e. a textile. In this case the wearer will not notice the technology, until its functionality is deployed. (was that what you meant?). However as this would lead to a growing mystification of our everyday world, it can not be recommended(thats quite a statement can you back it or decent ref?).
If, in contrast a new product category has been designed we can use it without preconceptions. The Nike FuelBand is a good example for this(ref).

Within our research we found that in order to make technology an integral part of our everyday clothing we need to develop greater awareness to the level of integration, which can be subdivided into four main elements or levels. These can be used as guidelines for integrating interactive technology into fashionable apparel.

1. Signal level
Most obvious is the signal- or display level. Wearing illuminated apparel generates a lot of attention...

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