Wearable Social Networks or How To Dress For Access
'Facebook Fashion' of sorts has been introduced by Electrifoxy.com, a company that has actually hot-wired garments to 'poke' a friend, 'accept' a friend's request and receive notification alerts all from the comfort of the clothes on your back. In the development genre of 'gesture' technology, Seattle designer Jennifer Darmour gives a whole new meaning to 'good vibrations.'
Ping is a 'hoodie' garment that connects to your Facebook account wirelessly and remotely. It allows you to stay connected to your friends and groups of friends simply by performing natural gestures that are built into the mechanics of the garments you wear.
Technology is integrated with the garment where a sensor in the hood allows you to communicate with Facebook simply by lifting the hood and putting it back down.
Lifting up the hood automatically sends a message and updates your status. Putting the hood down sends another message. A Facebook application allows you to customize your messages, assign them to groups of friends and even manage a diverse number of different types of messages based on where you are, who you're pinging, or what your mood is.
The concept prototype was built on the Arduino Lilypad platform and uses a variety of sensors including flexible sensing and conductive threads that are flexible, sewable and washable. The wireless capability was built using the Lilypad Xbee.
Jennifer Darmour’s entrepreneurial and design spirit has ignited several start-ups, where she has focused on inventing products and services for next generation user experiences. She first began investigating wearable technology while in graduate school at Art Center College of Design where she designed a collection of projects that explored wearable computing, soft textiles, and the aesthetics of circuitry as our second skin.
Since you won't find these garments at The Gap, you might want to email Jennifer as to customization and pricing. In interviewing her today, she indicated that there are still "some challenges that wearable technologies need to overcome within the manufacturing process - and it will take some time to get a new product like this market-ready."
When asked about adding Twitter to future garments, Jennifer said, "Twitter is a natural fit and I have been receiving a lot of questions and requests regarding adding its functionality. It is definitely worth
considering if the demand is there. Twitter is of interest, but we are also exploring other areas in the social media space. "
One question I failed to ask Jennifer was: "what happens when the dry cleaners get their hands on your Facebook profile?"
OK, so maybe you don't want to feel a jolt in your shoulder each time a friend asks you to join Mafia Wars or requests your help in plowing one of their new fields in Farmville - but it might be fun to see if zipping up your fly translates into a special status update to that special someone in your life!
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