Fibretronic, creator and manufacturer of soft controls for interactive clothing and fashion accessories has started a review of wearable electronic, a trend that started about 10 years ago with the introduction of the first commercially available product in 2000 by Levis in cooperation with Philips Electronics, the ICD+ jacket.
Although simple in design, prohibitively expensive and available only in a very limited number, the ICD+ was a first glimpse into the future of interactive clothing.
The roots of wearable electronic research goes back to a group at MIT during the 1990’s under the lead of Steve Mann and Thad Starner who worked on the design of computing hardware in portable form factors, such as clothing and other wearable accessories.
Some of their work on fabric interfaces using conductive textiles led to the spin-out company International Fashion Machines (IFM) set up by Maggie Orth.
Reima and Softswitch entered the wearable electronic market by commercializing wearable electronic products in the first half of 2000. Reima launched the ‘Smart Shout‘, an equipment for fast and easy group communication, integrated into a body belt, in June 2000 at the World Expo in Hannover. The ‘Smart Shout’ was developed by Clothing+, the Research Center for Wearable Technology in Kankaanpää, Finland, in cooperation with the Tampere University of Technology and Nokia.
Softswitch entered the wearable electronic arena in April 2000 with a fabric switching technology using layers of conductive and variably resistive textiles. The first applications of this technology were in audio control keypads in garments. In 2002 Softswitch and Burton Snowboards released the world’s first commercial available garment the ‘Analog Clone MD‘ snowboarding jacket.
Fibretronic will follow up on this first part of the ‘early Pioneers in wearable electronic‘, a highly interesting and informative overview about the begin of the interactive clothing trend.