Wearable technology | Pauline van Dongen | TEDxMaastricht

Wearable technology | Pauline van Dongen | TEDxMaastricht


Translator: Sarah Alonso
Reviewer: Elisabeth Buffard I feel it’s very important to make
the fashion industry more sustainable. It’s the second most polluting
industry in the world, but solar technology is developing
and is becoming more thin and flexible and this really gives
new opportunities for fashion. (Music) [make it wearable] [The Concepts: Episode 4]
[Solar-Powered Clothing] [Pauline Von Dongen is a designer working to bring new technologies,
like solar power, into fashion] I’m a fashion designer working
in the field of wearable technology implementing new technologies to make
our garments respond in a different way and therefore, also communicate
in a different way. (Music) Wearable technology is able to connect different industries
that were not connected before. I’m being connected with people
from the solar energy industry and we look at what we can mean
for each other to advance our idea of what fashion is
or could be in the future. (Music) (Applause) Hi there. Good afternoon. My name is Pauline van Dongen, I’m a fashion designer
specialized in wearable technology, but most of all, I’m a curious person. My inquisitive nature
often drives me towards things that I don’t know or do not master
in terms of skills. A big part of my part of my work evolves
around creating something that is new. It’s about adapting
knowledge and processes from outside of my design practice and looking at how fashion
can benefit from it. So let me ask you: how many of you were already familiar
with the term wearable technology? Please raise your hand. Wow, this is really good. Great. And how many of you already own
a piece of wearable technology? OK, this could be a little bit better. I’d like to show you some examples
of my work to give you an insight in how wearable technology
will develop in the near future and especially what it
can mean to all of us. Technology is often seen
as something harsh and metallic, but I aim to make it soft by naturalizing it
and bringing it close to the body. Nowadays, we see a lot of garments
where technology has been put on, but I believe that ultimately, the technology should become invisible,
working from the inside out. So by experimenting with
new materials and technologies, I constantly try to innovate
traditional craftsmanship. An example of my approach
is this shoe design that I developed in 2010
and [that] became the first fully 3D-printed shoe design
in the world. I’m very interested in
the concept of liquid modernity which was introduced
by the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman. It describes the idea that our contemporary surroundings
are constantly changing and they have become liquid
under the influence of technology. So for me, the future of fashion lies in its premise to be dynamic,
adaptive, and responsive, just like these fluid surroundings. So for one of my recent collections,
I developed a dynamic textile that would enhance the interaction
between the body and the garment. I used a neoprene that I laser-engraved
into this resilient line pattern and these lines
would change their expression along with the body’s movement. To illustrate the idea
of liquid modernity, I’d like to show you a project
that I did back in 2012. It’s called the Flip Dot Dress. It’s made up of tiny flip dots which are electromagnetic discs
that can flip from one side to the other. And this kinetic garment can respond
to the surroundings in terms of sound. And not only did I want to mount
600 of these on the garment, I also wanted to address
each dot individually so that the garment
could actually function as a display. So, I quite naively put myself to the task of creating this wiring diagram
which became quite a challenging puzzle, — because I had limited experience
with creating electrical circuits — but I had a partner in crime,
Daniel Schatzmayr, who is an electrical engineer
and robo-techer, and together with him,
few fashion students and engineering ones we made over 4,500 soldering connections. And you have to believe me,
this is a very organized chaos. (Laughter) We also developed a custom-made PCB so that we could wirelessly
communicate with the dress. after a while, on the inside, when we hooked it up,
it looked like this. The PCB is placed right at the back, in between the shoulders. And the amazing thing was that we were able to complete
the full design in only one month’s time. [Technology gives us
new choices, new possibilities.] To me, the fascinating thing
about technology is that it constantly gives us
new choices, new possibilities. To me, it’s not only a tool but even more so, an aesthetic. My recent project, Wearable Solar, shows the importance of creating
something that is desirable because in the end, people
should actually like to wear it. Our society highly depends
on connectivity. I bet that most of you are addicted
to your smartphones, just like me, and we want them
to be constantly powered. But the better our batteries get,
the more we’ll use them. There are two things we always
have with us when we leave the house: our clothing,
— at least I hope we’re all dressed — (Laughter) and our phone. So, why not power your phone
through your clothes? Wearable solar gives you the opportunity to charge your phone
on the go, wherever you are. For these projects, I collaborated with a business developer
and a solar energy expert. We started out looking at various solar cells
that were available on the market, we looked at their efficiency,
the way that they could be integrated, — because you can’t simply sew them;
you would immediately short-circuit them. I also started looking at the way
these solar cells are built So for the design concept,
I looked at this layer buildup and this interaction
of all these layers with the sunlight, and I immediately started comparing this with the stratification of the human skin. And then I translated this idea
into a modular design that comprises of parts with solar cells
that can be revealed when the sun shines, or folded away and worn invisibly
when they’re not directly needed. And each of them when worn
in full sun for only two hours will charge your phone from zero to 100%. These designs are still prototypes because the cells that we used
were not specifically made for textile. One of the main issues, for instance,
is that they’re not washable. So we are now looking at
solar-harvesting fibers, printable solar cells, and washable textile circuits
to upgrade the design. I’ve placed these two striking designs
in the high fashion market, but the concept has
a wide range of applications: you can think of casual wear,
sportswear, military gear, or even sails of tens of boats. And today I have
a small premiere for you because I brought with me
one of the designs that we just made. It incorporates the world’s most efficient
and flexible solar panel and it’s actually integrated in such a way that you can separate it from
the garment in case of cleaning. So our model Constance
is now pairing up her phone, plugging it to the micro USB, and she can immediately start charging
—even with the light here inside. We don’t necessarily always need the sun. Thank you very much. (Applause) I wasn’t done yet. We can ultimately use the generated energy
for other interactive qualities, like powering the light in this jacket
that I’ve designed for Philips. So, as you’ve seen today, I’m often trying to unite
two seemingly divergent industries. Working in wearable tech requires a new way of thinking
about garment construction, manufacturing, life cycles,
but also washing and repairing. These are some of the things
that I’m currently researching as part of my PhD program
called Crafting Wearables at the University of Technology
in Eindhoven. But probably the best thing
that I can share with you today is that there is no secret recipe
for making the impossible. From my point of view,
it’s all about collaboration. It’s the network and the exchange
of knowledge and experience that really matters. Often we are unaware of
what new developments might mean to us. Like, for instance, when we were first introduced
to the computer or the mobile phone. Nobody knew what to do with it. We didn’t need them. But now, yes, we do. So, today, I hope I gave you
a better understanding of what the future of fashion
beholds for all of us. And please keep in mind
that we are only just at the start of it. Thank you very much. (Applause)

Danny Hutson

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