SXSW: The Next Frontier of Interactive: Smart Fashion

I’ve tried to be a little less rapid fire on the social media this year than when at previous events…opting instead to post about what I’ve learned here. Also, as part of the deal for Martin sending me here, I need to prove that I learned something and wasn’t hula hooping shirtless on 6th street with a gut full of booze for 5 days straight.

So now that I’m #sxmyself for the first time in three days, I thought I’d get started with the the first panel I attended on Saturday:

The Next Frontier of Interactive: Smart Fashion

Jennifer Darmour has an awesome job. She spends her time trying to bridge fashion and wearable technology at a company called Artefact and with her own thing called electricfoxy. Which is probably a pretty good place to be playing right now, as Forbes recently dubbed 2013 is the year of the wearable. 

But Jennifer believes we’re still in the brick phone stage of wearables. Right now it’s a lot of single function gadgets that we are bolting on to ourselves. And it looks a little bit cyborgish.

She maintains that we’re entering a new age of technology. One where we move from interacting with our devices to devices that interact with us.

With wearable technology, the body becomes the interface. Not by using old metaphors, like keyboards on pants. But by creating new ways of interacting.

There’s three must haves for wearables to move forward:

  1. Beauty and personalization-clothing and jewelry are incepredinly personal things, so they need to be expressive rather than look like technology. So it needs to be things that people want to wear for the aesthetics as well as the utility.
  2. Meaning from data-As we move through the day, we put off incredible amounts of data exhaust. The trick is how to make it meaningful without people having to try.
  3. Periphery– devices have to learn to communicate in the periphery of experience so we’re able to be present in our world and relationships.

She’s currently working on a Pilates shirt embedded with sensors that know when the fabric is stretching and can therefor sense when the wearer is using bad form.

It satisfies all three must haves

  1. It’s fashionable. It looks like something that could be bought at Lulu Lemon.
  2. It’s meaningful. It uses data to tell if you have bad form, and simply communicates through a haptic response in the shoulder.
  3. Which means its operating in the periphery. The wearer doesn’t have to stop her routine to look at her phone or some other screen to see how she’s doing. If the shirt isn’t rumbling, she’s using good form.

It’s all really interesting to me as I’ve been thinking for a few days about why Google Glass makes me nervous. I sort of want it to fail. But that’s a totally different post for a different day.

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SXSW 2013 Session Recaps:

1. The Next Frontier of Interactive: Smart Fashion

2. A Home on the Web: The State of Blogging in 2013
3. What’s So Funny About Innovation
4. Shut Up and Take My Money: Lego Does Crowd Sourcing
5. The Future of Porn (Cindy Gallup)
6. Mashable Variety Show
7. The Future of Work
8. Miku: The Open-Source Girl Who Conquered the World
9. Angry Nerds: Being Human in the Digital Age
10. Matthew Inman Keynote (The Oatmeal)
11. The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust (Rohit Bhargava)
12. Live WTF with Marc Maron

Awkward Teenage Years Airlines

Flying to Dallas last week, I had one of those flights where you pay for all of those lucky breaks enjoyed throughout the travel year, like vacant middle seats, random upgrades, and arriving early. The flight was delayed 45-minutes after we boarded because they had to take all of the cargo off and then out it back on. Also: I was (un)lucky enough to be completely surrounded by 50 or 60 girls from a middle school travel soccer team. It’s the sort of thing that would happen in a headache medicine commercial. Except it was five and a half hours long.

It would be difficult to pretend that it didn’t transport me back into the horrors of being 13. The cool girls all had a row to themselves. Then there was the one who was just on the edge of being in the cool group sitting one the row behind. She kept trying to talk to the cool girl in seat C one row up, who answered only with monosyllabic dismissal. I’m sure that uncool girl was trying to work out in her head why they always seemed nice to her when hanging out alone, but were completely awful when the whole clan got together. I’m sure she’ll be the one driving the others to parties in a few years.

I was struck by the sheer amount of painfully bad decisions and long years that lay ahead of them.

But I was also struck by the fact that I was in a middle seat with a 70-pound little girl sitting in the window seat and another in the aisle seat. They didn’t even take up the whole seat pad. It was like flying with really loud Smurfs. At least half of the group could’ve shared one seat. Meanwhile, my adult sized frequent-flyer self was stretched from armrest to armrest. Hardly seemed fair.

So at the risk of being called a fascist, I’d like to propose a new seating regulation: we need to start seating the smallest people in middle seats. Everyone would be more comfortable. Small people don’t touch the sides of their seats anyways. It’s just good, common, fascist, sense. It’s only a matter if time before they start stacking us like chords of wood, anyways, so we might as well enjoy the time we have left.

Now Keeping a Journal. Preparing to be bullied.

I downloaded and got into a suite of apps called Day One sometime last year. It’s a really great way to keep a journal. It looks nice and is somehow fun to write in. I used it for a little while before getting distracted by god knows what. Last week I got into it again when I realized that I was coming up on my 10-year anniversary of quitting smoking.