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