Techno Textiles

numetrex_model_11.gifThis week the museum I work at, The Goldstein Museum of Design, is opening an exhibit on smart textiles, wearable technology , and the like, entitled, Techno Textiles: Inner Space to Outer Space. The opening reception is Thurs., May, 15, 7-9pm with a panel discussion at 8pm with Su Sokolowski of Nike and Mary Carey of Procedes Chenel International. The exhibit then runs through July 27. The exhibition examines the world of specialty textiles and how these innovative materials are being used by leading designers around the globe. Featured concepts include: Protective clothing, intelligent building materials that dynamically respond to their environment, luminous wall interiors, and fabric balloons used to ensure interplanetary probe vehicles land safely on the surface of Mars.

Although my area of study is typically socio-cultural issues, I did focus on smart textiles for my masters. What happened was that I was working on a master’s thesis about deviance/crime and dress, but it was overwhelmingly over-my-head as a master’s student with no criminal justice background. Throughout my master’s I had been taking these incredibly tough, but highly interesting advanced textiles courses, including one on “recent developments in textiles” which was fascinating. When things started to look unwieldy for my original thesis, I reviewed what else I’d been working on, and having written tons of material on all of these textile innovations throughout those courses it was a natural back-up plan to shift to that topic area. It ended up being a really rewarding area of study that I wish I published in a journal. But, I did speak twice, 2004 &2005, at ITAA , once on the entire subject, and once on an enhanced portion about thermal textiles. My abstracts are published in their proceedings which you can find here 2004 (smart textiles general) and here 2005 (thermal textiles). Both papers did retain my original interest in the human vs. the material aspects of dress, as I focused on the consumer demand for these products. I wanted to see how people feel about them and how they want to use them.

I have left this area of study as it was a bit of a diversion to begin with, but I’m glad I took that side path even briefly as the area is growing at a rapid pace. We even just hired a new professor specifically to focus on wearable technology in dress. With the our exhibit and the Cooper Hewitt exhibit from a few years back, new professors with this as their study area, and more and more dress students getting into smart textiles and wearable tech, it’ll be interesting to see where this all goes, as up ’til now it’s been mostly techies from MIT making garments that look like they’re for cyborgs.

The photo is of the NuMetrex Heart Rate Monitoring Sports Bra that has tiny electrodes woven into its fabric that can detect heart rate and display the results on a watch.

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  • Ellen May 12, 2008 04.26 pm

    Is this the same exhibit that was at the Cooper Hewitt a couple of summers ago?

  • Monica Sklar May 12, 2008 05.49 pm

    Hi Ellen-Great to hear from you.
    No this isn’t the same exhibit that was at the Cooper Hewitt. This is a new one curated by Karen LaBat and Bruce Wright.
    The Cooper Hewitt exhibit does have a nice book out though-however I’m not sure if that exhibit ever traveled.

  • Mark23 May 14, 2008 05.01 pm

    Using the techno textiles can boost a person productivity, as the cloths worn will be of comfort and thus of great help


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