My fabulous friend Lynne Bruning who organized last weekends eTextile Fashion Show at Maker Faire compensated for my misfortune of not being able to attend this exiting event myself by sending a wealth of information which I am sharing with the talk2myShirt community over the coming days.
For everyone who couldn’t visit this event Alexa Smith, founder of artfuture.com (website will relaunch soon) covered this event on video for our viewing pleasure – thanks Alexa.
To kick off my followup coverage of the eTextile Fashion Show I take the highly interesting observations Lynne collected while she spoke with late teens and early 20-somethings who plan to study, preferably under Leah Buechley, at MIT the topic of eTextiles. Based on such strong interest into this field Lynne rightfully questions: Are there sufficient graduate school positions available for such strong demand? Where are these people going after graduation? Are there sufficient jobs available in the industry? Is the educational interest outweighing the industries interest into this field?
Having myself one foot in the research and development of wearable technologies and the other foot firmly in the industrialization area I am able to have insights into both areas seeing the enthusiasms and expectations at each side but I am also aware of the fear and roadblocks that slow down a larger scale of commercialization.
To my opinion the current status of most wearable technologies and concepts coming from research activities, one-of-a-kind designs by artists and DIY projects are essential for future developments and the introduction of mainstream wearable technologies.
Wearable technology represents a new, unknown area in terms of manufacturing, marketing, design and most important – consumer experience.
In the past, revolutionary new developments have been made behind walls in engineering departments – top secret – and came only into public view after years of development, testing, trial and error until all stakeholder in a company have been convinced this new technology will have commercial success.
Wearable electronic on the other hand has gone public at a very early, highly experimental stage which triggered an avalanche of imagination not only by technologists and designer but by everyone who touches the topic of wearable electronic.
Wearable electronic has the sound of a magicians spell – it fascinates, it creates high expectations.
We could say the development of wearable technology and in parallel the creation of a business model is completely open and public with it’s positive side of mining the most innovative minds on the planet with the downside of having little coordination among all this activities.
This lack of coordination, of structuring and standardization is a big no-go for the industry which needs strict rules and parameters to produce in a reliable and cost effective way.
One of the biggest gaps I see right now is the link between inventing new, sexy interactive fashion concepts and the production floor. Companies, persons or organizations that carry the concept ideas and demonstrators through a application development cycle to sort out the fit and strong ideas, translating them into manufacturing specifications and designs.
Such application/product building companies would be in great need of people educated into these new type of technologists and designer only … such companies do hardly exist right now.
The call is out to pioneers, venture capitalists and companies that are willing to invest into the commercialization of wearable technologies.
More updates like interviews Alexa made with designers after the eTextile Fashion Show and more in-depth articles about some of the creative people who went on stage with their designs based on the rich update I got from Lynne will come soon – stay tuned to catch the latest news and trends about eTextile developments.