Follow all Workspace results at the E-Textile Workspace collection.
Plug and Wear Textiles
In February a few participants made a combined
order from Plug and
Wear, including the Conductive Fabric Evaluation Kit. In the first part of the workspace we
ran small, informal tests on these textiles. We examined their different properties which included
different levels of resistance in different directions and varying conductivity
depending on movement and stretch in some samples.
There is also quite some interest in the
Textile Perfboard product from Plug and Wear, although we have yet to
experiment with this.
We're very excited about DISPLAX's new
multi-touch film announced in the press earlier this month. We're hoping that V2_ can acquire a
small sample of this so that we can use it in future development and
experimentation. More links to
articles on this new technology are listed at the bottom of this page.
Can wearable technology transpose
the physical body into virtual environments?
The topic for this session was a natural
continuation from brainstorming in the
previous E-Textile Workspace.
The question: Can wearable technology transpose the physical
body into virtual environments; acted as a springboard for a broader
One of the immediate things that come to mind
when thinking of wearable technology transposing the physical body into virtual
environments is controlling an avatar via a suit. This kind of intuitive interface ideally should not require
the user to think about the controls.
It becomes an extension of her body. However, an input device like a Wii or a mouse is much more
easily detached from the body when the user wishes to disengage from the
interface. Seamless integration
into a virtual environment by wearing a full body suit can make integration
with the real world difficult as basic real-world functions (like going to the
bathroom) become challenging!
We moved onto less cumbersome examples of
wearable technology like prosthetics, hearing aids, etc.The question remains: to what extent
people will accept more and more physically invasive technologies? At the moment, the ability to remove it
and the idea of being in control is important. But this may change in the future as history shows us that
fear of new technologies is a part of human nature. People once mistrusted cell phones and even eyeglasses, but
these are now integral to many people's lives.
Skepticism about wearable-networked
technologies and the requirement to easily remove them is rooted in issues of
privacy and ownership of personal space.
Some applications discussed by participants were RFID tracking and
avoiding security cameras.
So what is the reason for participating in
virtual worlds? A large motivation
is to escape from our real lives, either for entertainment or to be free from
physical and/or social restrictions.
Daydreaming transposes us into a virtual world as an easy escape from
reality/everyday things, but technology enables us to do this in groups. Part of the attraction of wearable,
intuitive interfaces is the idea of extending body language communication. Humans have a need to communicate
beyond the restrictions of language and in virtual environments like web-based
social networks; we try to approximate this with emoticons, symbols, typing in
capitals, etc. But body language
doesn't get filtered through the same processes as verbal expression, it goes
directly to the body, so it follows that clothing might be engineered to
express our feelings by capturing body language. Of course, participants also questioned how comfortable we
feel sharing these sub-conscious feelings in a virtual social space.
The flip side to transposing the physical body
into virtual environments is enhancing the physical body with augmented
reality. In this way, we bring the
virtual world to ourselves rather than the other way around. Perhaps then we might also feel we have
more control over the experience.
There are obvious practical uses for wearable
or body-integrated interfaces.
Task-oriented applications like those used to record movements in the
work-place can be used to analyze ergonomics, but the same technology can used
to increase efficiency with less regard for workers' well-being. When science fiction becomes science
fact, participants agreed that humans should be controlling the machines, not
We also decided that it doesn't really matter
if the applications are practical or not.
Perhaps what is important is making people reflect on the experience
Links and references shared by the participants