Cotton transistors and pixelated fashion

Is it possible for consumer technology to engineer a sense of mystery again?

Sure Google glass has gotten all the press, but a multidisciplinary approach to wearable technology might just revive the fashion industry, take the maker movement in an entirely new direction and give us back some privacy in the bargain.

This is one technology that doesn't require too much personal disclosure in exchange for convenience.

"Why wearable tech needs fashion to survive and to thrive," Wired UK:

Simon Thorogood, senior research fellow of the Fashion Digital Studio, believes there's already a trend of consumers favouring subtlety and secrecy over extraversion. We have been programmed to give so much of ourselves away -- every time we sign up to a new app we duly type in our social media details -- and though it can be to our benefit sometimes, it's always to the brand's. The public's unease at oversharing -- at giving bits of ourselves away so brands can quantify our worth and profit from that formula -- is mounting, and perhaps evident in the fact that Facebook has reportedly been losing millions of users a month, and Instagram half its customerbase after attempting to profit from photos.

'I'm sure this [retractive trend] will translate to how people use and engage with fashion and technology, as a means of exploring that notion of the experience and what that can do for us.' If there's more of an impetus on the self, rather than the self as dictated to us by a stream of alerts categorised according to Facebook's relevance algorithm, then the way is opened up for us to engage with how our technology looks and feels, and how we want to use it.

Sure, there will be plenty of opportunities when the clothing is the technology to participate in one brand's narrative or extend the story as it were, but this very personal technology is a walking embodiment of the consumer-as-agent, not product.

The piece was also reminiscent of a presentation by Creative Capital artist and 2011 IdeaFestival speaker Mark Shepard, whose "under(a)ware" clothing will alert its wearer when he or she is being surveilled by a city or merchant. For the makers out there, Shepard makes his schematics available on his Sentient City Survival web site so that you can engage with his ideas. Happily, Creative Capital is once again bringing several of its visionaries to this year's IdeaFestival.

You have purchased your Festival Pass, haven't you?

Stay curious!

Wayne

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