Meaningful wearable electronics

With-You_wearable-electronic-conceptDuring discussions around wearable electronic I am frequently challenged with the following questions: ‘Why should wearable electronic, clothing that contains some sort of electrically active technology be interesting for consumers? Why not using small electronic devices as we have already, why not using the ‘sexy’ wireless technology to connect different devices in our pockets?

Instead of writing up my long list of reasons why I think the integration of technology into clothing is sensible I am  offering today a highly interesting view on this topic from an highly interesting person: Yongsoon Choi.

Korean born Yongsoon Choi studied fashion design at Kookmin University in Korea before he moved to Singapore for a research project at the Mixed Reality lab of the  National University of Singapore and to Japan where he is currently taking his Ph.D in graduate school of media design in Keio University.

With this diverse background of fashion design, human interaction research and some electronic background, Yongsoon is in an exceptional position to investigate and explore what technology enhanced fashion could one day bring to us.

Initially, Yongsoon used wearable electronic technologies to visualize his ideas about human interaction, interaction with each other and interaction with our personal electronic devices.

By doing this he realized the emotional power wearable electronic, the integration of technology into clothing has. It conveys the message much stronger, more emotional than many other demonstration objects.

Motivated by this first contact with wearable electronic, Yongsoon, coming from the fashion design, started to explore further the interaction between technology and textiles in the context of the interaction between humans and technology.

According Yongsoon there are two meanings in the term of ‘soft’ in the wearable electronic field: the first meaning is the physical softness and the second is the meaningful softness.

The area of physically is the area many researchers do their best to realize soft eTextile technologies to finally have soft displays, keypads, power in our garments.

what he misses is the research, the development of ‘meaningful softness’ in wearable technology. As he explains, there are two communication ways in our normal communications. The first one is direct communication that conveys direct information and the purpose of this communication is transferring exact information. The second is indirect communication that conveys indirect information as like our feelings, emotions, context, etc. the meaning but not verbally expressed communication element.

A face-to-facd conversation is much more informative than a text message although we try to bring emoticons into the text conversations to compensate for the lack of the emotional, meaningful element of interaction.

To keep this blog post at a reasonable (short) length, I will stop with this interesting statement from Yongsoon Choi but strongly recommend to read the full length, highly interesting and inspirational interview I did with Yongsoon on our new talk2myShirt Connection site.

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