New Online Exhibition Surveys Futuristic Weird Body-Enhancing Wearables

Surface Tension exhibition wearables
Surface Tension

The fashion industry is consistently adopting new technologies to further the possibilities of what we can wear. However, in 2021, designers aren’t interested in making smart clothes that do things we don’t need, such us, remind us when we’ve forgotten our keys. Instead, they are looking at the potential of new materials to positively affect the human body, according to a new digital exhibition called Surface Tension.

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The exhibition is co-curated by researcher and designer Rosie Broadhead and writer & artist Wilson Oryema. Surface Tension “argues that technological advancements in clothing design shouldn’t just turn us into cyborgs, but proposes that the future of wearable tech is holistic,” reports Vice. Both Wilson and Rose believe that the clothes we wear should not be for decoration and protection only but they could influence what goes on within our bodies.

Surface Tension is like a digital gallery, where you can walk through like in a video game. It features 17 wearables created by scientists, designers, artists or medical doctors which can positively impact both its wearer and the environment. “It’s all about healing the body in some way,” Rosie explains, “so there’s some biological element to all of them”. Rosie is the founder of SKIN SERIES, a brand that looks at the potential of using probiotics within fashion design — a 3D model of the brand’s ‘Seaweed Encapsulated Baselayer’ which can aid in cell regeneration and reduce inflammation is included in the exhibition.

“We’re worried about what is in our food, what is in our skincare,” Rosie continues, “but we need to start asking, ‘What is next to our skin?’” After all, everything that we come in contact with affects our microbiome (the bacteria, fungi and other tiny microbes which live on and in us), so why shouldn’t this be brought into consideration when designing clothes?

Here are some of the stuffs featured in the exhibition:

Biometric Protector

DOES Pharma presented a family of products with the aim of protecting the most important features of our body towards our identity recognition. “Our products provide the perfect protection for keeping your body features as recognizable as possible towards your body surveillance functionality. Available in a variety of sizes, colors and designs and produced with non pH-damage materials, we offer a collection of products that work towards your daily biological uniqueness protection,” DOES Pharma says.

Their products include:

  • Tongueprints Biometric Protector
  • Fingerprints Biometric Protector
  • Ears Biometric Protector
  • Iris Biometric Protector
  • Anus Biometric Protector
  • Nosepores Biometric Protector

ALMA Smart Underwear

A person wearing an underwear
Surface Tension

ALMA Smart Underwear is a non-invasive tool designed to monitor vaginal health. When symptoms occur, a female will use the underwear in order to identify what type of infection is coming. The biosensor placed in the gusset of the underwear, measures pH and other biomarkers present in vaginal fluid. The data is accessible to the user through the phone and if necessary the app directly connects to professionals for medical support.

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Entangled by Marion Lasserre

Entangled is a design and material research project investigating the potential of integrating future materials and microorganisms into the 3D printing process with the aim of creating novel footwear. The project research explores how materials for 3D printing (flexible resins, biomaterials) impact the skin over time and what could be done, by using the 3D printing technology to improve foot health. Traditional shoe making processes still use glues and agents which will be toxic overtime for makers and the environment.

Mechanical Counter Pressure (MCP) Glove

This MCP glove was designed, tested, and validated for space operations by Final Frontier Design for NASA in 2015-17. The design of the glove compresses the skin at a pressure necessary to maintain cardiovascular function in the vacuum of space. The MCP glove design includes restraint lines of Spectra running from the fingertips, down each finger, along the palm, and to the wrist to control human and pressure loads.  Adjustable pressure on the skin is realized through inflatable pockets running from the fingertips to the wrist and donning and doffing is allowed through two diagonal zippers along the wrist, reinforced with lacing.

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Cathy Russey () is Online Editor at WT | Wearable Technologies and specialized in writing about the latest medical wearables and enabling technologies on the market. Cathy can be contacted at info(at)wearable-technologies.com.