Last month, we hosted the Girls Who Code Summer Camp in our NYC Flagship, where they heard IBM professionals speak about tech and design thinking within the streetwear and fashion industry. What they left with was a deeper understanding of how technology can positively impact people through what they wear, and how design thinking within that space can help solve issues that some people face within our society.
With the advancement of technology and the ability to leverage it in just about anything, people are reaping the benefits of tech-enhanced clothing—for reasons that span from health to athletic performance, and even safety.
We rounded up three new technologies we think epitomize the rise of wearable technology and design thinking to create a positive impact on those who wear it.
Halo Compression Shirt
Canadian sports tech start-up Aexos has developed the Halo Compression Shirt— a compression top with an auto-tightening collar that promises to reduce whiplash and concussion. The shirt's collar is made of a material that stiffens in response to fast, abrupt movement—much like the movement experienced in contact sports. The tightening action of the collar slows down the motion of whiplash of the head and neck, which ultimately reduces the risk of a concussion.
Aexos (short for Advanced Exoskeletal Systems ) is currently planning to go into full production this year.
Reebok's PureMove Sports Bra
Reebok is another brand that has recently implemented technology uncommon in the fashion or sportswear industry into their garments with the PureMove sports bra. The well-known sportswear brand has applied a texture-changing gel used in NASA's spacesuits to make a bra that adapts to support different levels of movement. The sheer-thickening fluid in the bra has already been incorporated into spacesuits to protect astronauts from shrapnel and into bullet-proof vests.
The special liquid (that has been categorized as Motion Sense Technology) reacts in two ways: remains a thick gel-like substance when the person is still or slightly moving and turns into a harder substance as a reaction to faster movement.
Designers of the PureMove sports bra say that unlike traditional sports bras that have different compression levels based on the activity, the new Reebok offer allows individuals to wear it for almost any athletic activity from yoga to high-intensity workouts.
The PureMove sports bra is one of the first mainstream items of clothing to incorporate an "active material". These are materials that change their characteristics on demand, usually in response to temperature or pressure changes.
Sexual Assault Preventative Bracelet
New Deal Design, the design studio behind Fitbit's wearable activity trackers, has released a new type of tracker called the Buzz, aiming to prevent rape by increasing users' awareness about consent.
Buzz designers worked with specialist Jennifer Lang, a gynecologist with a background in assisting victims of sexual assault, and her business partner Robert Kramer, to create the new sensor-enhanced bracelet that monitors a person's capacity to consent and shares the information with the user's friends and/or date.
The Buzz system centers on a brightly hued wristband with a sensor that reads blood-alcohol concentration through the skin — a technology that has only become available in the last year.
How it works: when one Buzz wearer meets another who they are interested in, they can "bump handshake" to exchange their capacity-state information and sync up for the night. If they slip into the "red zone" where they lose capacity to consent, their partner will get an alert.