Hot from the TechnoSensual Exposition in Vienna, Austria, come clothes that can be made transparent or opaque, and clothes that can detect a wearer telling a lie. While the value of the former may seem dubious outside of the home, the latter invention should be a mandatory garment for all politicians and bankers. Or, for the less adventurous, millinery fashionistas, how about a hat that reacts to ambient radio waves?
All these innovations find their way from the realms of a Philip K. Dick science fiction novel, courtesy of the confluence of new technologies and innovative textile design.
WHAT if the world could see your innermost emotions? For the wearer of the Bubelle dress created by Philips Design, it’s not simply a thought experiment.
Aptly nicknamed “the blushing dress”, the futuristic garment has an inner layer fitted with sensors that measure heart rate, respiration and galvanic skin response. The measurements are fed to 18 miniature projectors that shine corresponding colours, shapes, and intensities onto an outer layer of fabric – turning the dress into something like a giant, high-tech mood ring. As a natural blusher, I feel like I already know what it would be like to wear this dress – like going emotionally, instead of physically, naked.
The Bubelle dress is just one of the technologically enhanced items of clothing on show at the Technosensual exhibition in Vienna, Austria, which celebrates the overlapping worlds of technology, fashion and design.
Other garments are even more revealing. Holy Dress, created by Melissa Coleman and Leonie Smelt, is a wearable lie detector – that also metes out punishment. Using voice-stress analysis, the garment is designed to catch the wearer out in a lie, whereupon it twinkles conspicuously and gives her a small shock. Though the garment is beautiful, a slim white dress under a geometric structure of copper tubes, I’d rather try it on a politician than myself. “You can become a martyr for truth,” says Coleman. To make it, she hacked a 1990s lie detector and added a novelty shocking pen.
Laying the wearer bare in a less metaphorical way, a dress that alternates between opaque and transparent is also on show. Designed by the exhibition’s curator, Anouk Wipprecht with interactive design laboratory Studio Roosegaarde, Intimacy 2.0 was made using conductive liquid crystal foil. When a very low electrical current is applied to the foil, the liquid crystals stand to attention in parallel, making the material transparent. Wipprecht expects the next iteration could be available commercially. It’s time to take the dresses “out of the museum and get them on the streets”, she says.