Artefact’s Pilates Shirt: A Cool Move Called Move
I move, therefore I am. ~ Haruki Murakami, IQ 84
Using smartphones via sensors to transmit data is certainly not new, and in fact, has been almost overdone in the last few years. Runners track their distances with sensors slipped into their shoes; those who can't sleep monitor their patterns with wrist bands and skiers use goggles with special displays to indicate speed. However, creating a portable computer that is disguised from the naked eye is a trend that is very quickly replacing clunky gadgetry.
Who designed the Pilates Shirt and how is it a new idea?
Jennifer Darmour is a designer for the Seattle-based firm, Artefact, and she is the creative spirit behind the Pilates Shirt and the wearable computer concept known as Move. The Pilates Shirt is designed to challenge current conventions in wearable computing with its sensors that monitor a person's body position.
Darmour has deftly created a garment that generates a vibration in order to notify the wearer that a particular posture needs to be changed. The Move concept is novel because of its three separate elements: the monitoring of body movement; the prompting to correct body positions and the product's dissimilarity to a wearable computer. The idea behind the Pilates Shirt is to blend computers flawlessly into everyday life. In Darmour's own words: "Your body becomes the interface. We're going from interacting with it to it interacting with us."
Darmour chose the Pilates format for her design because it is her preferred personal exercise regimen.This does not preclude her belief that the very same technology could easily be applied to sportswear such as golf shirts or for posture management because it helps to improve technique by breaking things down one movement at a time. The goal is to connect that bridge between wearable technology and the varying needs of the populace. As far as Darmour is concerned, the less-gadget-like wearable computers become, the more likely consumers will be to embrace them.
How does the Pilates Shirt work?
"It's all about precision in movement ," says Darmour. The Pilates Shirt has four sensors that are woven into the front, back and sides of the garment, which are constantly monitoring muscle movement via haptic feedback components situated at the head and shoulders. This involves the sense of touch in an interface design, which allows for vibrations, which in turn provide the user with information. Whenever the wearer is in a position that is wrong, the shirt advises him or her of the correct one. The Pilates Shirt is user-friendly and looks like nothing more than a shirt.
Problems with wearable computing devices
According to Darmour, there are three hurdles to overcome when it comes to producing and selling wearable computing devices. First, most tech gadgets are composed of hard plastics and have none of the allure associated with soft fabrics. Secondly, it becomes difficult to assess solutions because the volume of data generated is massive and the result of constant monitoring. Thirdly, in the case of many wearable devices, the user is often interupted and must stop what he or she is doing in order to view results and interactions.
The future of the Pilates Shirt
Following in the footsteps of technology giants Nike and Google is a formidable goal but one whch Jennifer Darmour gladly pursues. In the past Aretfact has created other concept products that have done well including: a novel printer with a touch interface that easily connects to cameras, computers, phones and tablets, and a camera that has a slim, iPhone-like body with a detachable lens that connects wirelessly.
Darmour firmly believes that Move and the Pilates Shirt will flourish in the wearable computer market of today because it pushes the state-of-the-art in wearable technology with its unique ability to transform the human body into its very own interface.
Time of course, will ultimately tell whether the Move concept and its Pilates Shirt really is a cool move.
M Dee Dubroff
Fashion and Technology Innovations