I do not need my laptop to be merged with my overcoat. I do not want to receive email on a tiny screen mounted on my eyeglasses. I do not have enough attention to distribute to real and virtual life at once. Nevertheless, applications like these are some of the first which come to mind when one mentions wearable computing.
Instead, what if your shirt would hug you every now at then? What if your bag would warn you about forgetting your keys? What if your socks explained how to give a fantastic foot massage?
At the Hybrid Wearables Workshop, 16 participants led by Jean-Baptiste Labrune and Dana Gordon played ideas to make our clothes help us more. Not a keyboard for sending email from your pocket, but small solutions for everyday problems.
Are you lonely? Would you like a pet to comfort you, but would you like to avoid becoming a cat lady? Anouk Wipprecht, Nick Lesley, David Morgan and Hans-Gunter Lock made a cuddle bag for you- a functional handbag which doubles as a pet. Stroke it and it will purr, its eyes will light up, and it will warm you.
The cuddle bag has been implemented using soft fabric switches which activate the LED eyes, motors which emulate purring and sounds from encapsulated piezo speakers.
Do people stand too close to you at parties? Do you feel uncomfortable at social events? Astrid Lubsen, Dick van Dijk, Chris Karthaus and Bertus Rosier made you a jacket that will blow air at your socially inept assailants, subtly hinting that they should take some distance.
The ZONE jacket consists of a light-dependent resistor attached to the collar of the jacket which activates the fan on the wearer's shoulder. The sleeve of the jacket has an interrupt switch, which allows the wearer to switch off the fan in case someone is leaning in the wearer actually likes.
When we feel stressed, sad or moody, acupuncture could help us lighten up. However, only a select group of experts know which pressure points go with which mood. Barbara Pais, Danielle Roberts, Anja Hertenberger and Helena Kagebrand have made a shirt to solve this problem. The shirt first determines the mood of the wearer. Subsequently, the shirt lights up the pressure points which need to be pressed to sooth the wearer. Anyone can simply press the blinking lights and help the wearer relax.
The e-Pressed shirt has a series of switches which have embedded LEDS which light up when those pressure points need to be pressed. In the sleeve, the wearer can indicate which mood he is in by means of a hairpin. Later, the shirt should sense the wearer's mood automatically.
Tæppedyr (carpet animals)
Children's day care centers are often too noisy. According to the Danish government, it is more healthy for children to be in rooms with noise levels below 35 dB. However, which child is going to pay attention to a decibel meter stuck somewhere in the corner of the room?
Barbara Amalie Skovmand Thomsen and Louise Springborg have developed a carpet which reacts to both the presence of a child and the levels of ambient noise. When the noise levels are ok, the carpet lights up with little animals/ghosts around the child. Once it becomes too noisy though, the animals disappear. If there are no animals, the child knows the room is too noisy.
Under the carpet are large soft foam switches which measure the weight on the carpet. Embedded in the carpet are many small leds which animate the animals and ghosts.