This past Wednesday I had the pleasure of attending the Zero Power Smart Fashion event held at the Metropolitan Pavilion. The event was organized by the Zero Power Swiss initiative, Guardian Angels EPFL, swissnex Boston, and ETH Zurich.
“The goal of this special, one-day exhibition and symposium is to showcase the latest innovations in wearable technologies, and to connect the fashion and high-tech industries with the research institutions and universities from the US and Europe.“
Lately, Fashion + Technology collaborations are the hot topics in the news and media everywhere. So, you can only imagine how excited I was to have the opportunity to check out this unique event!
Upon arriving to the 4th floor and entering the large open white event space, it immediately gave me the thought that “modern, futuristic, tech-y things are going on in here”. The first installation at the front of the room was an amazing black halter neck LED light “Stars” E-BROIDERY® dress by Akris (Creative Director – Albert Kriemler) from their Fall/Winter 2014/15 RTW Collection. The textile for this dress was created by Foster Rohner Textile Innovations.
They also had cool integrative illuminated textiles for t-shirts that was display on mannequins as well.
Next on the left wall was an exhibit by Xsensio. It include several large diagram posters explaining how their Hydra-sense concept works. One poster that really intrigued me was the “Overview of the Wearable Sensor System for Dehydration Detection: The system aims to non-invasively measure physical and physiological multi-parameters of human body that can be used for the estimation of (de)hydration level.”
There were a few exhibitors throughout the event space who either had ready for market product (actually being sold), or just conceptual prototypes to share with an eager tech savvy audience of attendees. Demonstrations of everything from smart socks that help you run better, to wearable (on-your-skin) computing devices, to wearable sensor systems (integrated patches/materials) that harvest energy, to so much more. The exhibitor list included: Foster Rohner Textile Innovations, Sensoria Inc., Misfit, ETH Zurich, Xsensio, BrickSipmple LLC, Jon Lou™, EPFL, Wearable Experiments (We:eX), and WIACTS.
There was also an equal amount of fashion industry and tech industry professionals in attendance which also made for a great networking opportunity. The other part of the event was the symposium which began at 2pm, and continued as a two part session for the rest of the event.
There was so much information shared between the two speaker sessions, (definitely too much to include in this one post), so instead of recapping each and every speaker, I will just share the best takeaways from the event from the topics that really peaked my interest. (Disclaimer: Quotes below are not verbatim, but paraphrased)
“The focus is to create Zero Power Systems that can operate without batteries as source of energy by involving: Sensing, Energy Harvesting, Computation, and Communication. In order to face the many global challenges of health, environment, and energy by way of data devices that will evaluate these aspects – smart garments, health monitors, pollution monitors. The idea is to create autonomous, non-obtrusive, non-invasive, and wearable options.” – Adrian Ionescu
“Science drives design, which drives design, which drives science… by having the science (technology) to create the design, it leads to more need for science to move design forward” – Juan P. Hinestroza
“High Value vs. High Value…Monitoring health vs. tech fashion…health issues create infinite liabilities as where fashion apparel creates almost no liabilities.. a mistake in monitoring health is dangerous, while not liking a garment is less of a problem.” – Juan P. Hinestroza
“By 2016 wearable smart electronics in shoes, tattoos and accessories will emerge as a $10 billion industry.” – Angela McIntyre, Gartner Researcher (within presentation by Davide Vigano)
“The garment as the computer. E-textile yarn will be replacing traditional elements in textiles. Being able to not just monitor how far/fast you did something, but also how well.” – Davide Vigano
“Sustainable Fashion…is it an oxymoron? In the theory of fashion it is always changing, onto the next trend or style… so, how can it truly be sustainable? Possibly through the integration and crossover of sensory and stitch applications within garments” – Amanda Parks
“Tech is already augmenting things: used to wear a watch to tell time, now the watch tells you what to do; used to wear a bracelet to remind you of someone close to your heart, now bracelet tells you to take care of your heart.”- Andrea Onetti
“We’ve had technology incorporated in fashion, but what’s new is making it fashionable, how do you incorporate style? We need to make things that are more personal creating value and meaning.” – Despina Papadopoulos