Wearable computers

Computer, information appliances, electronic devices that can be worn, computers as clothing and in future: fibers as computers.

Actual research topic: Intelligent fashion interfaces

The aim of IFI-research work is to provide a sound knowledge base for the development of intelligent fashion interfaces.

This will be achieved by analysing the state-of-the-art and projected future technologies in intelligent fashion interfaces, and investigate how the gap between the two can be bridged efficiently. Effort will be made to standardise the fashion interfaces for the convenience of consumers, retailers and developers. In the focus stand technical intelligent fashion interfaces e.g. e-textiles, sensors, blue-tooth, infrared as well as social intelligent fashion interfaces e.g. clothing communication, colour, design, tags, functions, shapes. Another focus is to assess the effects of these interfaces for consumers and consumer behaviour, to reduce risks for privacy, health and other issues.

By investigating in current and future intelligent fashion interfacing technologies, IFI can improve significantly the understanding of such technologies and their functioning as public and private good. Such research will also serve as a basis for decision-making. The implications of interfacing on community aspects such as social networks, economy, labour market and education will be investigated to build a sound knowledge base. The analysis of technology gap will also provide comparative perspectives across Europe. Achieving standardisation of interface techniques will contribute to the generation, distribution and use of knowledge.

Revolutionary changing processes in the fashion industry are inevitable. Examples are wearable computing technologies with new forms of human computer interaction, smart devices and textile based technology for information and communication. Fashion products are beginning to comprise special electronic functions that make possible communication to the surroundings. With communication socio-economic, privacy, security and standardisation issues of both current and future technologies are connected. These issues must be investigated quickly to form a knowledge base, which related networks such as ICEWES can tap on, in order to elevate the level of fashion development in the European Union.

Interfaces to communicate with e.g. high technology devices, embedded technology, other networks or artefacts are nearly unknown for the textile and apparel industry. Numerous mutually incompatible intelligent fashion interfaces arising. Instead of slogging to create brand-new interfacing techniques for each new product, a standard should be set for all interfaces, similar to the standardisation of the TWAIN scanner interface. The fragmentation of R&D can result in numerous fashion interfaces that are mutually incompatible like different ITag or transponder systems. Such a lack of standardisation could hinder progress and market acceptance by the customer and should be readily tackled for the benefit of all users and developers. With an existing standard to conform to, developers can concentrate on producing new functionalities. This activity will thus accelerate subsequent development of intelligent fashion and textile interfaces.

If the new textile based mobile technology should be used for the benefit of the whole society, these investigations are crucial to quickly reach the critical mass and make use from positive network externalities.