NEW NOMADS, an exploration of Wearable Electronics

The path of technological progress is quite clear. Man develops new tools and devices, and keeps on improving them over and over again. They become better and smaller, as we use refined, miniaturised technology to try to make ourselves both omnipotent and omnipresent. But there are limits to miniaturisation. It can help make products smaller and easier to use, but the ultimate dream is not to have easier tools: it is not to have to bother with tools at all! The step forward then is the integration of functions into objects that we do not feel clutter us, that are part of our life. The idea of integrating technology into clothing is therefore a logical step, which the recent development of conductive textiles, embroidered sensors, fabric switches, fabric wiring, and flexible fabric displays - carried out at Philips Design - has made possible to explore.

Logical tough the merger of electronics and clothing may appear, it is difficult to achieve, for it is not just a question of combining technologies, but also mingling two entirely different cultures. It requires for the electronics industry the capacity to understand issues such as style, design, materials. On the other side, it forces the fashion designer to think beyond the cut and drape and to adapt the aesthetic drive according to the functional requirements. It is a new way of working together, from which both industries can be enriched.

To make the matter even more complex, the introduction of conductive fabrics will not only bring about a change in the fashion industry, but also in all industries in which textiles are used - in transportation, home finishes, furniture. The potential is enormous and the exploration of clothing is only the start. New Nomads illustrates the research that Philips Design, together with Philips Research, has carried out on wearable electronics. ''

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