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Make It Wearable Part 3: Human Expression

When we last left off, our five part documentary series, Make It Wearable (in support of Intel's Make It Wearable challenge), dove into the possibilities for wearable technology to improve health and medicine—a look into how we can improve our insides with tech that comes from the outside world. For part three, Human Expression, we're looking at our exteriors, at how wearables are pushing fashion and clothing design into new frontiers. 

Fashion has always been an experimental field that drives art and creativity into places that could only be described as sui generis. With wearable technology, clothing isn't just getting enhanced for utilitarian means, but for new and innovative ways of self-expression.

In our third part in the series, which can be watched above, we spoke to innovative designers about advanced intersections between fashion and technology. Watch our documentary above, and continue reading to get a closer look into some of the specific projects highlighted in the film. 

Katia Vega's Beauty Tech Nails

Katia Vega has been on The Creators Project's radar for a while, as she makes accessories and cosmetics that are both beautiful and insanely futuristic. Whether it's her makeup that controls drones, or eyelashes that can control the lights in a room—she's blowing our minds while enhancing our personal features. 

In our documentary above, she showcased her Beauty Technology Nails, false plastic nails embedded with small magnets or conduct polish (called RFID tags) that allow the wearer to interact with other wearables he's sporting or other objects. Possible uses for the technology include opening doors without the risk of damaging your new nails, and even turn on TVs, cars, and smartphones. 

Kinisi By Katia Vega

Similar to her tech-enabled nails, Kinisi is an FX e-makeup application that allows your skin to act as an interface. In a video showcasing the project, makeup worn by the model has the power to trigger various light patterns on stick-on LEDs, based on certain muscle movements. Digital signals from the makeup's sensors are sent to a microcontroller that subsequently organizes the twinkling lights on the model's face and hair. 

Adafruit's Firewalker LED Sneakers

Adafruit is close to hitting its tenth birthday, and the technology company hasn't even come close to slowing down. Created in 2005 by MIT engineer, Limor "Ladyada" Fried, her team makes a variety of tech-enabled products, including wearables such as the Firewalker LED sneakers, seen above.

These kicks aren't your ordinary light-up shoes: Firewalkers use a NeoPixel strip and Adafruit's wearable electronic platform, FLORA, to trigger colorful animations as you step. Dancing has never looked so cool. 

The Sparkle Skirt By Adafruit

Adafruit's Sparkle Skirt, also featured in our documentary, lights up as you move through 12 color-changing NeoPixels sewed in, and a FLORA accelerometer/compus module. When you move, the FLORA sensor receives data spikes, causing the pixels to flash and sparkle. This inherently promotes wearers to make one of the most dreamy entrances we can imagine.

Hussein Chalayan's Animatronic Dresses And Hoods

In 2012, The Creators Project made a documentary on the 2012 S/S show of fashion designer, Hussein Chalayan. The UK-based creative known for his pixelated and laser-reactive dresses, as well as his animatronic clothing (self-zipping tops, and hoods that cover the wearer as if they had lives of their own.) Re-visit our doc on Chalayan's work above, and think about the possibilities of robotic clothing that not only looks great, but adjusts itself to accommodate the wearer.

Studio XO's Bubbelle Dress

Studio XO has impressed us again and again with its collaborations with artists like Lady Gaga and Azealia Banks. The experimental design studio has designed some of the craziest stage outfits we've seen, including the Bubbelle Dress (above), which was even worn by Gaga in a photoshoot for her Born This Way album campaign. 

The dress, developed by Philips Design, is surrounded by delicate "bubbles," that get illuminated in specific patterns that change based on skin contact. This outfit is a sure-fire way to drop the jaws of any audience. See for yourself in a video piece demonstrating a prototypeThe Creators Project has an upcoming documentary specifically on Studio XO's imaginative projects so stay tuned!

There are a myriad of other designers who are integrating technology into clothing in a way that's beautiful, creative, and pragmatic. If you thought that this past fashion week was forward-thinking, get excited about what will happen when wearable technologies become widespread practice for designers and fashionistas alike—standing out will be taken to the next level. 

For more on wearables, re-visit our first two installments of Make It Wearable:

Make It Wearable Part 1: Human Connection

Make It Wearable Part 2: Human Health

Also check out our video premiere of Intel's Make It Wearable Challenge that will award fresh innovators for sharing their inventions: Think You Have The Next Big Idea In Wearables?

For more on the challenge, see Intel's Make It Wearable site.

Lead Image of Kinisi by Katia Vega