Wearable technology is a scifi idea that’s just starting to become a reality, so it’s to be expected that for a while its gaze is going to exceed its grasp, and in the world of fashion one must make allowances that one typically doesn’t for technology for pieces that blur the line between art and a functional object. But dang, wearable tech, if a dress that turns more translucent based on the speed of your heart rate doesn’t perfectly embody the vast gulf between the dreams of wearable tech and the reality.
LiveScience went to South by Southwest this year and reported back for the rest of us on a few wearable technology products, including outerwear with solar cells that could recharge mobile devices, a sort of short onesie that doubles as a wifi hot spot, and finally, Intimacy, a dress that becomes more see-through the more aroused the wearer is.
And that, in and of itself, isn’t a bad idea. There are plenty of reasonably reliable hormonal ways to detect arousal, and the idea of an outfit that automatically detects when you might want to take it off is reasonably useful. Except limitations on technology being what they are, it’s not like a dress can sample chemicals in your blood or sweat in any kind of real time or fashion forward way. So Intimacy actually just exposes your boobs whenever your heart rate is elevated. From their site:
INTIMACY 2.0 features Studio Roosegaardeʼs new, wearable dresses composed of leather and smart e-foils which are daringly perfect to wear on the red carpet. In response to the heartbeat of each person, INTIMACY 2.0 becomes more or less transparent.
There are a lot of things I could say about that but I’ll stick to this: if elevated heartbeat was a solid indicator of arousal, NBC wouldn’t air the Olympics in primetime. It’s not Intimacy’s fault that it’s kinda lame, though. This sort of “decent concept reduced to useless object once you apply modern science to it” cycle is all over the place in wearable technology stories. It’s either the awkward looking prototype that actually functions, or the high concept marvel that doesn’t actually solve a problem. Wearable tech is going to have to leave the world of conceptual fashion and enter the world of practical everyday wear in order to become more than science fiction. For now, I’ll stick with skirts with LED lights in them.
(top pic via Studio Roosegaarde.)