Modern fashion is becoming more accessible to the masses, giving more people the option to pursue their individual taste in fashion. With MARK II-VII, we aim to explore opportunities beyond fast fashion; clothing with endless possibilities, and a closer connection between self and clothing. This can be achieved by exploring the intersection of three areas - self-expression, fashion and wearable technology. The garment is designed to be non-static and easily manipulated by the wearer and their interpersonal interactions.
Generation Z is an emerging demographic that currently makes up 41% of the population, meaning that technologies targeting this demographic are sure to see widespread use and massive social effects. Market research also shows that this generation values self-expression more than ever before and prefers sustainable and ethical products.
MARK II-VII will essentially be an item of clothing that has no static design - their colour and pattern can be changed without changing the garment itself.
The interaction of Mark II-IV have three parts, changing appearance, RFID token, proximity sensing and interaction between users:
Changing appearance: The colour and pattern of the jacket can be changed by the use of different tokens or the interaction between users.
RFID Token: It's a physical token that stores the data of colour and pattern, they are unique. The colour and pattern of Mark II-IV will change when the user puts a token to the reader.
Interactions between Mark II-VIs: the jackets themselves also support user interaction. When two jacket wearers meet, physical contact like shaking hands or hugging will cause movement/mixing of colours on their jackets.
The physical form of our project is a non-static jacket designed to be manipulated and influenced directly by the wearer. The jacket has its own unique patterns which can also be changed through the interaction of the jacket user. The material is 65% polyester and 35% cotton; the jacket panel that that illuminates is pure white, which meets the requirements for good light transmission and reflection to achieve the desired effect.
For the locations on the jacket where the light needs to be arranged, we have wrapped the LEDs with flexible clear plastic tubing for protection, and then for better light conductivity, a layer of translucent baking paper is wrapped on top. This gives the jacket ideal comfort and lighting effect.
Technology Hardware & Software
The final selection of hardware technologies during our development include: Arduino UNO, Arduino DUE Development Board, NEO pixel LED, RFID Reader, Credit Card Tag, Key Fob Tag, Reed switch and Neodymium Magnets. They were compiled and set up using the Arduino IDE.
For our integrated functionality on the jacket, the Arduino DUE was used as the primary development board: this was due to its sufficient amount of resources for hosting a large number of NEO pixels, RFID technology and the Reed Switch to work simultaneously. On our display jacket (which did not include all features, but rather was used for aesthetic demo), we used NEO pixels and Reed Switch to accommodate the interaction between the jackets.
Using RFID to read into the tag and generate a unique colour palette. The tag used by the user is a component capable of generating and storing unique colour combinations, we store the information in a 'seed', each 'seed' is unique and therefore the colour palette generated from it is also unique. As different tags correspond to different colour palettes, once a colour palette is generated, a tag corresponds to a unique colour palette. Users can use a tag (tag1) to light up their own colour of light (colour 1), after others use a new tag (tag2) a new colour is generated (colour 2 ) the colour of the jacket also changes. When the user rescans his own tag (tag1), the colour plate of the light will change back to the previous colour (colour1)
Using the Reed Switch and magnets to cater for interaction between multiple jackets, ideally users would interact by hugging, shaking hands etc. The light colours of the LEDs would blend or change depending on the time of their hug or handshake. The longer the two pieces of hardware are in contact with each other, the more LEDs will change colour after they are separated and the longer they will stay in place, allowing the jackets to briefly change all the lights. After a period of time the lights will return to their original colour
Two jackets were created to perfectly represent the interaction of the jackets for exhibition, one of which combines the unique colour palette of our planned RFID completion and the interaction between multiple garments using the Reed Switch. The other jacket is more of a showcase of what we expect the final product to look like and to demonstrate the interaction between multiple garments, so only the Reed Switch was used on this jacket. For each guest at the exhibition, we introduced them to our concept of non-static clothing and wearable technology from the beginning, communicating the problem we were trying to solve and explained the two showcased features. Guests were invited to experience these interactions.
The team also encountered some unforeseen circumstances where the brightness of the natural environment was too bright for the light and colours of the MARK II-VII to be fully visible to everyone for a period of time in the afternoon, but this only a temporary issue - the evening was able to showcase MARK II-VII at its best. There were some unexpected situations during the demonstration, where the two colours generated were too close to each other and the change in the LEDs was not obvious to the guests, and it was difficult to observe the colour change. During the demonstration of the interactive function of the reed switch, the sensors were so small that they were easily displaced and we had to mark the position of the sensors and magnets on the surface of the sleeve to make the interaction process go more smoothly.
Throughout the afternoon and evening of the exhibition, almost all of the guests expressed their approval and support for our products. The team was delighted with the unanimously positive response and interest in the final product of the MARK II-VII. The team's confidence was boosted by the positive reactions from guests who marvelled and even laughed when they used the tag to light up their own unique colour palette and noticed a change in the colour of their clothes during the interaction. The team also received some unique insights. In terms of interaction, for example the use of sensors to monitor elbow movements when the user performs a wave to say hello the colour changes, or the colour of the garment has a corresponding state in a certain environment or state. There were also multiple guests asking very practical questions about how this all-wire garment should be cleaned, and so on. The feedback not only gave the team new inspiration, but also allowed us to reflect on what things we hadn't considered and what could have been done better.
The next phase of the project will see the team considering how to make the human pose and interaction more refined and reliable, such as developing more gestures or movements that can generate interaction. Perhaps the reed sensor hardware will be replaced, as it is inherently fragile and not optimal for the way MARK II-VII interactions are generated. The team will also take into account more practical dressing needs such as washing and comfort in order to maximise the optimisation of the MARK II-VII.