Two Women Design Hooded Sweatshirt That Sends Text Messages

Fashion duo designs wearable mobile interfaces

At the beginning of year, PSFK and iQ by Intel published a report on The Future Of Wearable Tech. To keep up to date on the trends within the report, PSFK attended an event last week hosted by Digital Flash on “What We Wear The Wearable Tech Revolution”.  The event gathered a group of experts in the field of wearable technology to discuss the current state of wearables, what the future holds, and what the challenges are as new companies enter the marketplace.

PSFK caught up with experts Alina Balean and Rucha Patwardhan Founders of SmartHoodie, to learn more about their business and how wearable clothing is transforming the way we think about clothes.

- What is the Smart Hoodie. Where did you get the inspiration to create this project?

Smart Hoodie is a sweater that sends text messages. It has it’s own number and runs independently. The project was developed for two classes at NYU’s graduate ITP program. The classes were focused on wearable technology materials and GSM networks. We worked together to create the first prototype. Our biggest inspiration was rather a question, what is the future interface of a mobile device, why does it have to be so inorganic and plastic?

We are noticing that Wearable and mobile devices are automatically capturing and broadcasting contextually relevant information at key moments to enable a seamless flow of communication between people. These systems are continually monitoring individual data like location and activity level to deliver a preprogrammed set of notifications to a trusted peer group, activating a network around timely support and care.

- Do you see this trend manifesting on a wider scale? How so?

We do, we got a lot of positive feedback from the first prototype and hope to develop a better product that can be sold and used in more flexible ways.

- The smart hoodie responds to gestures and sends text messages. Do you think audiences are expecting more immersive experiences? In what direction are wearable experiences moving generally?

We think technology today is moving beyond the button a lot faster and people are willing to experiment with new experiences. If you look at smart watches today you already see this integration. The LG watch uses hand movements to activate the screen and voice to reply. The challenge is to design experiences that are intuitive and leverage gestures we are used to.

Smart Hoodie

- In terms of form, do you see wearable devices being more integrated within apparel becoming more commonplace? Is this important to wearables becoming more mainstream generally?

There are already tons of products available that have technology embedded into them. Fashion offers people a chance to communicate their personality with the outside world. Mobile phones customization is an example of fashion blending into technology. So why can’t technology interactions blend with fashion? Tech and fashion needs to come together in a way that the user will want to wear technology and not have to.

- What challenges do you see implementing these types of feedback systems? What makes them successful?

The main challenge is that the field of wearables is still in an experimental stage. Technology offers infinite amount of quantified data and systems communicating it. The challenge lies in identifying what the user needs and when. Identifying these needs decides the feedback loop that the wearable needs to have with the user. Creating a hierarchy of feedback loops according to user needs and at the same time making these interactions as organic as possible is what makes or breaks a product experience.

Smart Hoodie / Alina Balean Rucha Patwardhan
The Future Of Wearable Tech

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