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7 August, 2007

Smartly unraveling

Though I can't find a single mention on the event's own website* , the BBC reports that the SIGGRAPH 2007 conference on computer graphics and interactive techniques included 'Unravel', a fashion show of innovative clothing.

Some were nothing special; there's nothing conceptually remarkable about inserting solar cells into a bikini, allowing the wearer to ambiently recharge his/her (er, probably her) mp3 player, though it's a media-friendly idea.

The BBC mentioned two designs specifically for couples. One was innocuous – a pair of jackets which display illuminated (LED) text scrolling across both backs when the wearers hold hands – and one less so.

That was something like the 'Dance Dance Revolution' arcade game (in which one presses pressure-sensitive pads in time to music, thereby 'dancing') though with the pads attached to a pair of boxer shorts and a bra. The 'DDR' variant is merely the simple game chosen to demonstrate the technology, but I suppose the touchpads could function like a standard controller for any game.

That's a compelling thought, but the one which impressed me most was clothing printed with designs only detectable by the CCD/CMOS sensors of digital cameras. To the naked eye, the vest in the linked example shows a thundercloud, but a photograph would show a lightning bolt too.
The technology can be applied to digital media too. The project's own website suggests that subtitles could be invisibly incorporated into feature films, so that those needing that assistance could access them by watching through a cameraphone's screen. I can't imagine that being an enjoyable experience, nor one that'd be encouraged by cinema managers – I suspect it'd be more likely to be used to obscure the image recorded by a camaraphone, perhaps with an anti-piracy logo.
One more interesting application could be 'electronic makeup' which would protect a wearer’s anonymity by discreetly disrupting the features required by electronic face-recognition software. ****, I'd wear that!.

Others were less practical, either illustrating a principle or frivolity (which is fine). For instance, Joo Youn Paek's 'Self-Sustainable Chair' is a polyethylene dress incorporating an inflatable bustle connected to two foot pumps. As the wearer walks (laboriously), the rear inflates until the wearer is obliged to stop and sit on it, thereby expelling the air. Why?
And an exploding backpack of confetti deliberately imitative of a suicide bomber is a seriously bad idea nowadays.

*: I've since found the fashion show's own website, as yet unpublicised by SIGGRAPH.

[Argh! Somehow I saved over my completed draft of this entry, so I've had to retype it from memory. I think it makes most of my original points, but writing's never as good the second time, is it?
I have a couple of URLs left over, too. I forget the contexts in which I linked to the fashion show's programme (.pdf) and this hideously impractical yet oddly attractive (as a hanging object, not as a garment) shirt.]

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