Wear Sustain is now in its second round of funding. The Europe wide competition has begun to hand out a total of €2.4 million in prize money, and now 24 new teams have each received their first tranche of €50,000 (and passed their mid-term reviews) to turn fashion tech and smart textiles ideas and prototypes into real products.
"We’ve really honed in on the fact that they need to address both ethics and sustainability – they are the core themes – and they have to do it in a creative and critical way," Rachel Lasebikan, senior research & innovation manager, Queen Mary University tells us. "So these projects are in tune with those core values."
The latest batch of Wear Sustain winners are currently going through a six month incubation phase, but the organisers are already championing some projects from the first open call in 2017 such as promising smart jewellery line Quietude, recently shown off alongside the Mi.Mu smart gloves at FutureFest in London.
The Quietude smart jewellery accessories vibrate when there's sound in the environment, and "by wearing these accessories, the deaf women will be able to perceive voices and other sounds through their body," as Patrizia Marti, creator and professor of human computer interaction at the Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands puts it.
Here are some of the most interesting Wear Sustain projects from open call 2. We'll be checking back with the teams with the most potential later in 2018.
If you're interested in hearing more about how the projects develop, the funded Wear Sustain teams' final outcomes will be revealed this autumn at a number of events across Europe, including the WEAR Sustain Final showcase and Symposium in Brussels in November.
Sara + Sarah
Sara + Sarah, a smart textiles duo based in Scotland, are working on building connected fibre optic fabrics such as light emitting lace, which was recently trialled at the Chalmers Theatre in Edinburgh.
The team is made up of Sara Robertson, a smart textiles tutor and researcher at the Royal College of Art, University of Dundee and Sarah Taylor, senior research fellow at Edinburgh Napier University. Check out their Instagram feed for more updates on their experiments in smart materials.
Stealthy is a line of smart jewellery – including a necklace, bracelet and hijab pin – that has sensors which monitor Vitamin D levels, and a lifestyle companion app that can calculate if you're getting adequate amounts of Vitamin D from natural sunlight outdoors. It's also designed as a tool for people to use with their doctor and also possibly for women pre and post pregnancy.
"There are currently over 1 billion people who are suffering from Vitamin D deficiency globally. Lacking this vital vitamin has significant impact on our health causing problems such as infertility, preeclampsia, rickets in children, osteoporosis and depression," Stealthy creator and CEO Nadiya Siddique told us. It's due to launch in spring/summer 2019.
Another project in the realm of smart textile innovation, Touch Craft adds a vibro-sensory layer to fabrics to respond to touch via light, sound or haptics.
So far the team has experimented with building electronic circuits into interactive rugs, cushions and blankets, including slow craft workshops around stitching conductive and non conductive materials onto felt "to bring the objects to life, making them responsive and personally meaningful."
This project is building a smart shoe with a real sustainable twist – PoplarShoe made from poplar fibres which fall from populus genus trees every May. The team has managed to figure out how to use these eco-friendly, bio-waste fibres in flexible pressure sensors in the shoe.
As for connected features, these include distance, steps, pressure distribution of steps, recent weight and an audio coach via the companion app. The shoe is designed for walking, jogging and running.
More Wear Sustain projects
Other wearable tech-inclined Wear Sustain projects includes FutureJewels, a line of smart jewellery pieces with playful interactions created by Kathy Vones, a jewellery artists, lecturer and researcher at Edinburgh Napier University.
Power Pattern is a project focusing on the aesthetics of batteries as one solution to the age old problem. Its aim is "to develop a new way of battery integration into wearable smart textiles… The idea is to create visually appealing battery patterns right onto textiles where everyone can see them."
And we're excited to see what comes out of Beneficial Works, a collaboration between New York based WearWorks and Berlin based Beneficial Design. WearWorks is behind the haptic Wayward wearable for visually impaired people to help with navigation.
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