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Critical contextualisation and wearable technologies

Each of the following was chosen to give an overview of the fields that encompass fabrics, wearables and technologies and science. There are different kinds of information about textiles and technology studies available; some are in catalogue forms, showing culminations of various practitioners giving a brief description of the study. Other forms are like MIT’s courses in ‘High Low Tech’ ( http://hlt.media.mit.edu/ MIT, High Low Tech) which have blog information available. The blog style approach doesn’t give details but shows more examples. MIT are one of the leading universities in this area of study, they also mediate work, which is very useful as some of this includes pieces that didn’t work at all, and this being recognised is very worthwhile.  Meaning if you can find this information you don’t have to make the same mistakes, you can think round the problem or see how it relates to personal projects, speeding up developments and enhancing quality. Several of these studies can be found on the New Textiles course site, lead by Leah Buechley creator of LilyPad, (Buechley, L. 2012, New Textiles). LilyPad (http://web.media.mit.edu/~leah/LilyPad/ LilyPad )is a collection of sewable electronic components, a prototyping platform like Arduino for testing concepts. This platform also gives room to test as to whether the individual could take active control over the use of their technology, e.g. If used within the glove the individual could use it to work out the best temperature reactions for themselves. I also believe giving the sufferer control over their condition improves their personal experience, therefor improving their well-being. MIT’s course ‘High Low Tech’ aims to take technology to a level where anyone in any cultural situation could connect up a circuit using traditional textile and material processes. Examples include: Pu Gong Ying Tu (Dandelion Painting), http://hlt.media.mit.edu/?p=2286

Very simply if you blow at the dandelion flowers the seeds seemingly disperse and the flowers slowly grow back ready to be blown about as seeds again. The aim of the MIT group is certainly not complex technology but pieces that can be meaningful and can be looked after by anyone with any cultural background, whatever their knowledge of technology. This allows people to become involved with technology in a ‘hands-on’ way, communally, emotionally and culturally.

Our primary aim is to engage diverse audiences in designing and building their own technologies by situating computation in new cultural and material contexts, and by developing tools that democratize engineering.

Buechley, 2012 ‘High Low Tech’

HAT- sun awareness, is there a need?

Sun exposure is something that everyone has to be aware of at some point, over exposure can go from burns to more serious issues such as cancer, under exposure can lead to vitamin D deficiency.

( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-16255661 )

Avoiding sunburn can be very difficult. Unfortunately, getting sunburned is much more common that it ought to be. In a recent, survey conducted in partnership with iVillage, The Skin Cancer Foundation discovered that 42 percent of people polled get a sunburn at least once a year. (http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sunburn/facts-about-sunburn-and-skin-cancer )

Sun exposure is the main cause of malignant melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.

In the UK around 11,100 cases of malignant melanoma each year are linked to excessive exposure to sunlight and use of sunbeds.

( http://publications.cancerresearchuk.org/downloads/Product/CS_KF_SKIN.pdf )

Issues of sun burn and skin cancer have been known for a long time, In 1918, Norman Paul of Sydney, Australia, first made the link between sun exposure and skin cancer in print with his book, The Influence of Sunlight in the Production of Cancer of the Skin. Many media campaigns have been made to try and remind the masses to be aware and take care in the sun, yet thousands still get sunburns that cause/develop into cancer. As technologies develop there are various ways we could monitor the UV intake. Although it must be said that there are those who use sunbeds knowing the risks they cause and still use them on a regular basis, showing that not all find skin cancer a concern over various trends and impulses.

Monitoring UV and comparing this to skin tone is a possibility yet technology like the sun has its side effects such as positive ions released form technology causing depression. With this in mind I wanted to look at a more personal awareness method that may spark up interest in the UK’s fast paced culture. Here I decided to look at materials that react to environment, some fabrics shrink 10% or stiffen with an electric current, some respond to temperatures. I chose to use Nitinol, or NiTi, an alloy of nickel and titanium. This alloy can be bendable by hand when below its transformation temperature, when it reaches the transformation temperature the wire will move into a pre designated shape. The transformation temperature is decided by the exact percentage of nickel to titanium in the wire, 50.5%nickel would be around a 25-30 degree transformation temperature and 48% nickel would be around 60-70 degrees transformation temperature. Although this is a simple equation finding this to purchase at lower temperatures

http://www.nhs.uk/news/2010/12December/Pages/sunlight-exposure-and-vitamin-d-advice.aspx

Many are unsure of sun exposures and not all will ask or search for answers and technology is helping in this such as mums net conducting a Q&A with a Dr. however there will still be a large number who would not think to consult ‘mumsnet’ about this issue even if they were a member of ‘mumsnet’. http://www.mumsnet.com/qanda/mike-brown

These studies show how each concept could improve the well-being of many, those both with and without conditions of heightened sensitivity to UV or cold temperatures.

HAT  Critical contextualisation

Fashion Designer Hussein Chalayan in collaboration with Swarovski on their 111th anniversary created a collection inspired by the last 111years, wars, revolutions, political and social changes, all that shaped fashion (Chalayan, 2011). Chalayan used these to create a show called One Hundred and Eleven where the clothes morphed from high-necked Victorian through decades to today with 6 dresses. One Hundred and Eleven took place in 2006 for the spring/summer 2007. Here 2 of the outfits include hats. As all of the pieces were mechanically controlled the hats were no exception, one pulled the dress worn by the model into its brim and out of site, leaving the model naked, apart from the hat. These outfits most certainly for catwalk purposes showed aesthetics and thought, but do not show any sort of practical functionality, perhaps there is a functional reason for a hat holding the wearers dress, however this in not mentioned on any of the publications.

HAT – developments

From the GLOVE research in identifying a working prototype to show the concept and outline the optimum product I realised this would also be the best course for the HAT project.

Within the HAT project I also researched and tested a variety of materials, as the concept here is about awareness I wanted the visual to be powerful as well as the ‘function’. For this I researched both materials that react to various inputs and dye’s that react to various inputs, such as Ultra sound fabric. For the prototype using temperature based reactions showed the most promise. This way a prototype could be created that moves and changes colours/pattern for shows such as; gallery and catwalk. The movement and changes will be eye catching and memerable and the awareness angle then reminds and/or informs the public of issues surrounding sun exposure. Also the researched gained throughout the study looks at formulation of an ideal personal awareness system for sun exposure

Thermal dye and Nitinol test video.

1. colour test, 2. nitinol in fabric mini test (with thermal dye), 3. nitinol spring test, 4. 2nd nitinol in fabric test (without dye) 4. Nitinol in hot water, fast powerful reactions.

This led me to testing various forms of NiTi, the most common form that is used in orthodontic work. Even after researching places to get NiTi and the information about each piece when tested in person the results may not be as expected. This occurred for me in two ways, first the thickness of wire not as described, though this was in one case a miss read on my part. Second the temperature it reacts at, some materials need direct contact with the highest temperature to move, some will begin to react at a much lower temperature. Those that react at a lower temperature and move slowly are most useful, these show a gradual start then tend to spring into their predefine shape quickly.

Also it is possible to cause nitinol to move with electricity or power from a battery, I have made a point of not using any kind of electrical technology in the HAT. First reasons are weight and aesthetics, second is that electrical devices give off positive ions which have been seen to cause depression, particularly when on the body for prolonged periods. I wanted to specifically look at chemical ways to get round these issues and see if the public deems the concept to be of interest.

Research and testing altered and strengthened my concept and design, the research showing bad results of materials were just as useful to further design and research as the good results.

Main working developments

Nitinol tests

Early hat shape test, simple shape, effective look

The hair dryer simulated the heat needed for the nitinol to react. The circle shape is fixed with a hair clip and rolled up, reaction causes the test hat to cover the face.

Black daisy style

As apposed to a brim of nitinol I wanted to test how it would work as a series of nitinol petals.

The lamp creates enough heat for the wire to react, this allows the petal to open out.

The new reel of nitinol ordered came un baked, so I needed to raise its temperature to 500degrees then drop it quickly, this can be done with a hot air gun or as I am using a cooks blow torch outside, the ground and air cool down the wire after being heated.

The newer nitinol reacts much slower and at a much higher temperature, this may cause problems within fabric. However unlike the nitinol I had previously its does not have a super elastic quality.

The making of final HAT

In making the final hat I chose to sew the brim separately to first test the fabric works well with the nitinol, light enough and tight enough of a circle to open out fully and hold.

Using a patterned fabric meant aligning the patterns at the brim connection.

The pattern was chosen to show off the thermal dye, the shape and colour/ pattern change as well as to keep an eye catching image.

Summary and background

Summary and background
 
The aim of this project is to show potential of technologies that can be wearable and explain the concepts of each clearly. The 2 pieces in development show examples of this; a glove for temperature sensitivity such as Raynaud’s and a hat for awareness of the balance of sun exposure.
 
Background: Art, Science and Technology.
 
Previously my studies have looked at the divide between art and science, and how together the amalgamation of disciplines has promise. In many cases combining practises seen as very different have aided one another in very crucial ways. For example,… . 
 
In an email interview with James L. Acord, nuclear artist, I asked about what he thought of art and science:
 
“Currently art and science are largely divorced from each other.  We live in such a complex and specialized time that that a Leonardo da Vinci, simultaneously on the leading edge of both art and science, is imposable.  Although there may be as many artists on the planet as there are scientists the amount of societal support for science dwarfs art.  We live in the age of science and in most nations art has lost its prestigious role as a parallel giver of understanding. 
 
I would like to see a common and regular integration of artists and scientists working with and helping each other.  I would like to see every scientific panel and committee having an artist seated on it and every artist with a scientific need finding an open door.  And I would especially like to see artists and scientists collaborate on joint projects. My collaborations with scientists have enriched us both in unexpected ways.” (2010)
 
From the many studies reviewed I think this is a very clear understanding, there will of course always be discipline specialism but there is the opportunity now to close the divide. In David Dufty’s book ‘Loosing the head of Philip K Dick’ he describes the process of  creating the robot and how  artists were used to work on the physical head but also how this connects up to bring the facial features and expression into motion. Here Dufty remarks that what the artist Hanson does is particularly great as he takes an artist’s view on an engineering problem and solves it in a very efficient way. The collaboration between artist, scientists, engineers and mathematicians was only possible by  the scientists and the artist remaining open minded in their approach to the collaboration and project outcomes. Though Dufty doesn’t see this being a common collaboration as others in the sciences are very closed minded about how an artist, untrained in their specialism could be beneficial in any way.
 
A recent talk on TED showed how astronomy and its software have been able to first map some scans and information only previously seen as 2D/flat in medical procedures.
http://www.ted.com/talks/michelle_borkin_can_astronomers_help_doctors.html
Also Golesworthy outlines some of the barriers he had to face in developing a new treatment for a heart condition as he used his engineering skills to repair his own heart and many others.http://www.ted.com/talks/tal_golesworthy_how_i_repaired_my_own_heart.html
These specific barriers may not come with every combination of studies but it is also important to acknowledge discipline specific  language barriers as a a difficulty in combining arts and science with  acronyms taking on different meanings in difference disciplines. Therefore unless time is taken to ensure clarity misunderstandings will be commonplace.
In the field of art Eduardo Kac used genetics to engineer a glow in the dark rabbit. This is one of many art science works and shows a great moral debate of genetic modification of living beings. Seen as such a great issue in one rabbit yet scientists look into how genetics can be tested to ensure a male or female baby, or to even alter how the brain will develop. Showing how in what seems like a relatively small project looks at so much more, although that doesn’t mean the media understood what Kac did.
http://www.ekac.org/gfpbunny.html#gfpbunnyanchor ; Alba the fluorescent bunny.
 
Material technology research continues combining various areas, so examples of this in arts and science will aid the theory for textiles futures research. However this is a relatively closed field with little research being published in order to protect copyright.  This reason was cited by many  when asking those involved in the industry at ISWC. This lead to my decision to not document my developments online as I tested and developed but to wait until I have a wider view of my work so I am able to both blog my work with a wider understanding.
 
At the International Symposium on Wearable Computers (ISWC) 2012 various attendants and speakers spoke about the father of wearable computing being Steve Mann, born in 1962 and with a PhD in 1997 from wearable computing work. Although there are previous wearable technologies such as this heated jacket from 1931http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationaalarchief/4193509008/in/set-72157623018193396/
 
The field of soft wearable technologies for well-being purposes uses various fields of study such as science, art, engineering and design, often highly specialised and divided as an amalgamation.
This amalgamation creates a new formation of research rather than being seen as separate specialisms working together; holistically beneficial and observed as individual and not carrying the adversity held by mergers of such fields as art and scienceIn an email interview with Nuclear Artist James L Acord I asked ‘4. what do you think art science is currently?
 
Currently art and science are largely divorced from each other.  We live in such a complex and specialized time that that a Leonardo da Vinci, simultaneously on the leading edge of both art and science, is imposable. 
   Acord,J. 2010, email interview
 
 
My project:
 
The aim of this project is to show potential of technologies that can be wearable, the 2 pieces in development show examples of this.
To help promote and assist with ambient well-being the two prototypes focus on contemporary use of materials and technology in their design to be both aesthetically pleasing & functional.
GLOVE Raynaud’s is a condition mainly triggered by low temperatures resulting in loss of blood supply to the fingers.
The GLOVE is aimed at Raynaud’s sufferers and helps to stabilise temperature in the wearer’s fingers. It monitors the temperature of fingers & environment, heating when needed.
HAT Some sunlight is needed to help the body synthesize vitamin D whereas too much can be damaging to skin and cause burns. To enhance awareness of exposure to sunlight the HAT rim opens out shading the wearer’s face, dynamically changing in relation to environment.