June 5, 2010

Feeling Blue? Your Clothes Can Help

People could soon have smart clothing that will offer emotional support and help them with modern-day stresses.

The sample garments, created as part of an artistic project called Wearable Absence, monitor physiological changes including heart rate and temperature. The clothes are connected to a database that analyzes data to figure out what the person is going through emotionally.

Words, images and songs are then streamed to the display and speakers in the clothing to calm a wearer down or offer support.

The clothes are made from textiles interwoven with different types of wireless sensors. These sensors can track a variety of biological markers including temperature, breathing, pulse, and galvanic skin response.

The data is gathered passively and is used to trigger a response from a web-based database that has been created by the wearer. The clothes connect to the web through a smartphone.

When the wearer is perceived as being in a particular emotional state, the database will send media to the clothing to try to change the person's mood.

The clothes are outfitted with a display made of LEDs and have speakers built into the hood. The display can show scrolling text or simple images and the speakers can transmit music, sounds, or even pre-recorded messages from friends and family.

The smart clothes are the brainchild of Barbara Layne from Concordia University in Canada and Janis Jefferies from Goldsmiths College's Digital Studios. The prototypes were shown at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences held in Montreal from May 28 to June 3, 2010.

Layne had previously done similar work. She created jackets that knew when their owners were touching and changed the messages being displayed on the LED displays sewn into them.


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