Geek Science Fashion at MIT Show #WearableWednesday


It looks like another version of Star Trek, but it’s actually some futuristic sci fashion from MIT’s Descience contest. I was lucky enough to learn about this “research on the runway” from BetaBoston. Applicants for this contest are either designers or scientists, and they are paired by interest to work together — sort of a matchmaking of the minds. Here’s the official description.

Scientists are challenged every day to explain the meaning of their discoveries. Fashion offers a unique platform through which the public can engage with cutting edge science. Descience is an innovative project that fuses fashion and science.

The fashion above was created by Laura Indolfi, a biomaterials engineer at MIT, and designer Carlos Villamil. They ended up each taking home a $1,500 prize for their garments, which mimic cells changing behavior in different environments. I’m a big fan of fashion illustration, and these simple drawings show the potential combinations.


I never grow tired of LEDs, and this next design has them embedded in silk and organza. The team was designer Dieter Kirkwood and researcher Julio D’Arcy, University of Washington in St. Louis. Their aim was to explore nanostructures.

The garment has an embedded soft circuit LED array using Adafruit’s FLORA micro-controller connected to a sensor made with polyanaline, a nano material that changes resistance when exposed to an acid or base. Polyaniline can be applied to fabric and remain flexible. In the future we hope to tune the sensor to discern complex compounds such as air pollutants.


This next piece gives “bodycon” a new meaning as it explores disease. The duo was designer Candice Wu, and bio-engineer, Chris Gibson, who studies a rare disease called cerebral cavernous malformation. The red heart of the dress represents the red blood cells, while the green cage and black train (seen behind the model), represent the actin stress fibers. So, removing the cage becomes symbolic of the path of disease to freedom. Note the 3D printing on the exo-bra, as well as the black headpiece worn by the other model.


You should definitely check out the Descience site to see the other teams in the competition — there’s some great designs. Then, start thinking about your own body and surroundings. Are you ready to bring 3D printing together with electronics? Then, take a look at our high-tech Cortana Costume tutorial. Soon you’ll be coming up with your own designs that reflect change and discovery. Remember, change is part of the process.

Flora breadboard is Every Wednesday is Wearable Wednesday here at Adafruit! We’re bringing you the blinkiest, most fashionable, innovative, and useful wearables from around the web and in our own original projects featuring our wearable Arduino-compatible platform, FLORA. Be sure to post up your wearables projects in the forums or send us a link and you might be featured here on Wearable Wednesday!

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