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Beyond the Bale : March 2018
Technology is evolving at a rapid pace. Mass markets are now beginning to adapt and transition from portable devices (such as mobile phones and tablets) to wearable devices (such as smart glasses and motion sensors). The next step is the incorporation of technology into the very fabric of clothes. Obvious applications include health monitoring, sports training, military tracking and innovative fashion. However there are many more applications waiting to be discovered. Always keen to be at the forefront of new opportunities for wool and encourage innovative thinking, AWI through its marketing arm, The Woolmark Company, was involved in the 2017 HIF Cloud program, run by the University of NSW (UNSW). During the program, 24 UNSW students travelled to Hong Kong and China in November with the aim to design futuristic prototypes for the next generation of wearable technology. The 20-day China experience began for the UNSW students in Hong Kong with a series of HIF Cloud workshops with students from partner universities Hong Kong Polytechnic University, City University of Hong Kong and Queensland University of Technology. It brought together varied disciplines – including textiles, computer science and engineering – and international cultures. The program saw students working directly with manufacturers, giving the artists and designers easy access to supply chains, tools and materials such as hardware, 3D printing, transformers and electronics. “We need to design technical wearables to help adapt to the constant changes to our environment,” said Dr Patricia Flanagan, UNSW Art & Design lecturer and program coordinator. “The program challenged students to work across disciplines and cultures and envision what wearables could eventually look like. “The Chinese wearable technology market is growing so quickly that the students had greater access to electronics and tech manufacturers. Designing in China also meant the students had a platform for broader debate around the future of wearable technology. Many of the pieces created by the students were speculative, designed to generate conversation.” 24 UNSW students visited Hong Kong, Beijing and Shenzhen last year to design a range of wearable technology prototypes in collaboration with Chinese manufacturers and students. TECHNOLOGY EMBEDDED WITHIN APPAREL The Origarment team of Sivaan Walker, Isabella Worsley, Clive Chen, Robert Sloan and Neelam Gopalani with their completed wearable technology at AWI’s Wool Resource Centre in Hong Kong. SUPPORT FROM AWI Prior to the trip to China, the UNSW students visited the AWI office in Sydney, in June, where they were taught about wool and shown the latest in wool product innovations and the some of the world’s best wool fabrics in AWI’s The Wool Lab. The students said it opened their eyes to the modernity and possibilities of wool. When their overseas trip began, a presentation and launch involving 80 stakeholders was undertaken at AWI’s Wool Resource Centre in Hong Kong. It brought together industry practitioners, entrepreneurs, professors and students to explore the future of wearables. Dr Flanagan said the venue met all their requirements and was especially appropriate for the Australian attendees who are so proud of their wool heritage. The students then headed to Beijing and Shenzhen to work in small groups on their prototypes for two weeks, before returning to Hong Kong for the last day of the course where their finished prototypes were presented, again at AWI’s Wool Resource Centre. THE PROTOTYPES Each of the students’ prototypes was based on wool. ORIGARMENT (pictured above): This garment includes a conductive thread in an embroidered pattern and thermochromatic dyes that change colour when the current is passed through the thread, without causing any harm to the fabric or wearer. It is also a multifunctional piece that can be worn in four different ways, for instance, a poncho or a skirt, which reduces the amount of items in a wardrobe and provides a sustainability element to the design. TECHNO ADAPTION: An anti-smog scarf that aims to draw attention to China’s ongoing air pollution crisis. The scarf has air pollution sensors that vibrate when levels get too high and servomotors that automatically signal the scarf/mask to lift over the wearer’s face. COCOON: An anti-stress meditation hood that has a camera inside to block out advertising logos and other outside stimulation. It is designed to be portable and discreet in order to create a space of reclusiveness in busy environments. FUTURE PRIMAL: This project’s garment showed visual representations of the instinctual responses that the body has. The students used wool because it has the natural quality of an animal but at the same time they embedded a lot of technology into it. WANDERER: The idea for this garment was the ability to harness energy from the wearer’s movement (of arms, legs etc) by embedding technology in the fabric and using the resultant power. Wool was ideal for many reasons including its elasticity. The prototypes will be exhibited at this month’s Sydney Design Festival. MORE INFORMATION www.triciaflanagan.com/HIF%20Cloud OFF FARM 33
In the Shops - March 2018