We’ve focused a lot on wi-fi lately, I guess considering we build laptops it’s something that’s on our minds. We appreciate superior connection that won’t drop you as you move from one place to the next. In an effort to explore all of the options when it comes to connectivity we’ve yet again, stumbled upon the ingenious. A newer concept in the wifi vein if you will. A few short years ago the idea that clothing could also become an distributor for wifi was born. While there still isn’t much in terms of production, VAIO found the concept intriguing. We dug a little deeper into this idea of connected clothing and here’s what we found…
A Design Company Testing the Waters
Forget about carrying a hotspot router when you want to connect to the world while you’re on the go. What if you were the hotspot? A few years back a Dutch textile company, ByBorre and its founder, designer Borre Akkersdijk came very close to making this concept a reality with their experimental BB Suit. The suit was a wearable Wi-Fi hotspot with GSP, a music library and even an air purifier.
In the initial version of the suit- Version 1.0, electrical threads were woven into the fabric using a special 3D technique. The suit debuted at South by Southwest in 2014, where a model’s location was shown on Google Maps. Attendees could not only track the suit at the show but could also upload songs to a 22Tracks platform. The BB Suit could literally turn the owner into a walking access point.
In Version 2.0 the designer introduced additional technology- the air purification system. This time the suit and it’s capabilities were demonstrated at Beijing Design Week in September of 2014. The suit would now purify the air surrounding the wearer. Similar to Version 1.0, the second version looked a lot like an adult onesie. An official redesign of the suit has yet to take place.
We’ve seen a huge push in wearable accessories that offer a similar version of the technology. It’s a big part of the reason the BB Suit was created. Akkersdijk was quoted by architecture and design magazine, Dezeen saying, “ The BB Suit started because everyone was talking about wearable technology, the bracelets, the glasses…. We thought about how we could really integrate the electrical threads and sensors and not just stick them on.” While you won’t be able to purchase the suit for yourself just yet, as it was created as more of a step towards a connected wearable platform as opposed to a product to be marketed. We’re not sure what the future holds, but it is clear that 3.0 will be just as amazing.
Not The Only Kid On The Playground
Developers at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and Universiti Malaysia Perlis are creating a textile waveguide antenna. By using a metamaterial-like unit cell with transmission lines, the antenna has moved from simply an idea to a real tangible concept. When the technology officially launches we can become walking Wi-Fi signals.
This textile waveguide antenna is small and durable and is capably used by 2.45 and 5.4 GHz WLAN applications. It would be able to transmit a pretty nice portable Wi-Fi signal. By successfully mixing wireless technology with clothing designers and engineers alike could complete a long-term goal for many important industries across the globe.
Benefits for the Masses
How can connected clothing benefit our needs? While we’re becoming more and more of a technologically dependent society, connected clothing can actually make a difference in some really practical and imperative ways. Militaristic forces my take specific interest in this technology. GPS tracking, communication and basic monitoring of soldiers could provide huge benefits for the troops. Not only will command posts be able to locate where each soldier is, but they could also have the ability to check vitals.
In another avenue, hospitals could start using the technology to medically monitor patients at all times. Long gone will be the days of disrupting patients while they sleep to check vitals. Connected clothing could take the health sector to new heights.
The idea that we could go beyond a watch or a pair of glasses and really incorporate the technology into our everyday apparel is an ingenious concept. Now engineers, designers and scientists can work towards tangible goals and it won’t be long before we start to see these types of products being sold to the public. It may be a while before connected apparel hits mass markets as the puffy designs will need to be configured for daily wear and machine washing. Until then VAIO keeps their eyes peeled for any advancements.