September 21, 2006 As the Digital Age progresses, technology will be available to create masterpieces of all types, and high fashion will find itself with magical new abilities. A garment no longer need be made of earthly materials and can now become a highly complex interactive electronic device, or a biochemical machine responsive to subtle triggers like sensuality, affection and sensation. The SKIN fashion range of dynamic garments developed by the far-future research program at Philips Design came from ongoing research into emerging trends and societal shifts in the area of 'emotional sensing' and demonstrate several possibilities in the way electronics can be incorporated into fabrics and garments to express the emotions and personality of the wearer. The marvellously intricate wearable prototypes include 'Bubelle', a dress surrounded by a delicate 'bubble' illuminated by patterns that changed dependent on skin contact- and 'Frison', a body suit that reacts to being blown on by igniting a private constellation of tiny LEDs. The SKIN research project challenges the notion that our lives are automatically better because they are more digital. It looks at more 'analog' phenomena like emotional sensing and explores technologies that are 'sensitive' rather than 'intelligent'.
Rethinking our interaction with products and content According to Clive van Heerden, Senior Director of design-led innovation at Philips Design, the SKIN probe has a much wider context than just garments. "As our media becomes progressively more virtual, it is quite possible in long term future that we will no longer have objects like DVD players, or music contained on disks, or books that are actually printed. An opportunity is therefore emerging for us to completely rethink our interaction with products and content." "We chose fashion as an idiom to express the kind of research we were doing," says Lucy McRae, Body Architect at Philips Design. "We did this because apparel and textiles can be augmented by a lot of new functionality. A garment can be a highly complex interactive electronic or biochemical device. We are experimenting with devices that are more responsive to subtle triggers like sensuality, affection and sensation." The blushing dress The garments were therefore designed to respond to an individual's body and create a visual representation of emotions rather than just being 'on' or 'off'. For instance the 'Bubelle' - the 'blushing dress' - behaves differently depending on who is wearing it, and therefore exhibits completely nonlinear behavior.