Out of the storied halls of Montréal's historic Concordia University and Goldsmiths of London comes word of a new development in intelligent textiles. Not satisfied with simply smelling the shirts of their loved ones when they're away, teams have developed clothing that can broadcast video and audio in addition to carrying the gentle scent of Drakkar Noir or "M" by Mariah Carey.
It's called "Wearable Absence", and the idea is interesting, to say the least. Using a combination of fabric, wireless technology, bio-sensing devices and everyone's favorite hive of scum and villainy, the Internet, Professor Janis Jefferies of Goldsmiths and Professor Barbara Layne of Concordia are developing a system whereby the emotional state of the wearer determines the feedback they receive.
In theory, the bio-sensors in the clothing will detect the wearer's physical and emotional state, package and send that information to an Internet database, which will then send back it's choice of Kenny G songs or photos of your loved one holding a puppy.
Realistically, the clothing is intended to broadcast audio through speakers concealed in a hood or shoulder seam, as well as displaying text along a scrolling LED bar. There are also plans to include video or pictures, but no word on how or where they will be displayed on the clothing.
Wearable Absence: Fashionable?
As well, the intention appears to be to limit the interaction the user has with the clothing, at least in an obvious manner. They won't have control over what is being played or shown from moment to moment, and we're not sure how one would go about "picking" the absent person they wish to remember. It might be as simple as logging into a website and changing who you want to follow you around that day, but we wonder what kind of control will be available over what exactly is shown. Will there be an option for "if I'm happy show X, but if I'm sad show Y?", or will the database have the sophistication to know what is a happy or sad photo or video and tailor it to the emotional state it says you 're in?
Also, as much as this would be used by those missing a spouse or friend who is away on a trip, it would almost certainly be used by those who had lost loved ones, or who had undergone a breakup but hadn't quite put the pieces back together yet.
This could lead to a great many sad, distracted and fashionable people wandering around.
While the clothing is still in the development stage, the potential here for clothing that not only makes the man, but makes him cry in public, is intriguing.
Sources: Goldsmiths, Concordia