The FashionTech movement, born of the encounter between cutting-edge technologies and the worlds of fashion and retail, saw the celebration of the Look Forward Fashion Tech Festival at the Gaite Lyrique venue in Paris this past week. The exhibition focused on the areas of Environmental Engagement, Impact of Immaterial, Privacy & Society, and the Augmented Body.
I collaborated with designer Galina Mihaleva in one of the exhibited pieces, VR Tranquilitie, in which we explored the topic of noise pollution in our lives. According to Mihaleva, “We developed this wearable ensemble inspired from the function of Kaii chiak which helps to transform humans into a more idealistic version by enclosing human senses when noise pollution is perceived”.
The interactive dress polls data generated from sensors that allow it to adapt to the reported noise pollution levels of a city. This data is used to illuminate the LED’s shapes on its back, where each shape is programmed to light up based on different level of noise pollution and create various compositions of blinking patterns. These are meant to bring awareness, while also change color based on the logged noise level.
The garment also featured technology that allowed it to engage with the audience, making it more than a contemplative piece. A WebVR application was created for the exhibition, and allowed to visualize the sound levels in different parts of the world. Paris, London, Singapore, Guanacaste (Costa Rica), Los Angeles and Seoul were featured in the WebVR experience. This experience averaged the decibel level data coming from the sensors and created spheres that would create noise when colliding with the surface. This would translate in a quieter experience for quieter places. A Gear VR headset was made available for the attendees to explore each destination on Samsung Internet for Gear VR. The dress also had a beacon that broadcasted the WebVR’s experience URL through the Physical Web, prompting nearby users to open their browsers and experience it in their own devices.
The making of VR Tranquilities
The VR Tranquilitie experience is a collaboration between several professionals in the field. As Galina (fashion designer) points out, the fabrics are 100% polyester, hand manipulated into sphere texture: mesh lycra and laser cut felt. The shape of the dress is similar to the one of a shelter, and its enclosure is built of spheres that should recall calm and warm feelings. On the technology side, Nagaraju (Senior Asistant Manager at NTU) utilizes a LattePanda board that runs Python code to connect to the SmartCitizen APIs for the noise information. This is the same data source I used for the WebVR experience, running on Samsung Internet for Gear VR on the Galaxy S8 and S8+ mobiles. This experience is a simple yet powerful of visualizing how noise pollution can be distracting and stressful over time.
More than the beauty of the dress and the boldness of the statement we are making, this is another proof that the web is extremely maleable and powerful. We delivered a WebVR experience to over 4000 attendees in an exposition where the topic of bridging fashion and technology was key.
A huge thanks to the designer Galina Mihaleva, to the curator Anne-Sophie Berard, and to Aurore de Sousa, Nagaraju Thummannapalli and the team that made this possible. The code is available at https://github.com/SamsungInternet/vrtranquilitie .