Please note that on Saturday 29 June, the museum will close earlier at 14:00.

Clever Clothes. How is wearable technology changing our world?

Real life sci-fi. How designers are cleverly repurposing every day objects to improve lives and inspire wonder.

Handy Facts About Wearable Tech

  • $34 Billion
    According to Forbes, the Wearable Tech Market is set to be worth $34 Billion by 2020.
  • 2018
    In 2018 there will be more than 250 million pieces of wearable technology in use.
  • 51%
    51% of 4,000 adults in the UK and US stated that privacy concerns would put them off getting wearable tech.

What's the story?

From intelligent watches to internet dresses; designers are adapting everyday wearable objects so that they are more useful, insightful and exciting! Here are just some examples of how:

Smart Sweating

Smart watches such as Fitbit can detect how many calories we burn and how much sleep we are getting. Keeping track of this simple yet insightful information can help us monitor our personal health. Over time it may even help users prevent serious illnesses such as heart disease. Having intelligent technology fitted into items worn everyday, such as a watch, means that an already existing design is gaining an additional useful function. Wearable tech could mean that looking after our health slides seamlessly into our busy daily routines.

Eye-catching Fashion

Imagine a dress that could change colours depending on your mood, or the mood of your friend's on facebook! Designers are beginning to use technology to make clothing even more spectacular. This year at the Met Gala, the dress code was: "Fashion in the Age of Technology”. Karolina Kurkova wore a dress with 150 LED lights designed to light up in different colours in accordance with her twitter feed.

Safety in Style

Fitting clothing and jewellery with tiny GPS devices could help parents keep track of where their children are. If all clothing had this in-built technology, people who are missing may be found more quickly. Trackers sewn into clothing may mean that faster help can get to those who are in an emergency.

What can I do?

Discuss: What are the possible downsides to wearable technology? Are there any ways to design around these issues?

Research: Find out about 3 pieces of wearable technology. What is their function? What type of technology is being used?

Do: Design your own wearable technology! What does it do? Who would wear it?

In recent years we have seen the development of smart watches and glasses, but when was the first piece of digital wearable technology designed?

The first wearable computer was designed at M.I.T by Claude Shannon. It was a small computer timing device that fit into a shoe and helped roulette players. The first version of this computer was tested in 1961!

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