It seems like we always have to switch between spandex for fitness and then back to sweats for comfort. However, designer Simone Schramm has a better way to handle the different modes with her Muscle Shirt according to The Fashion Law. With a built in heart rate monitor, the shirt expands and contracts according to the level of exercise sensed. Here’s Simone’s description of the movement.
Activity is perceived by the skin surface and the shirt has the potential to enhance the posture of the wearer. The transformation can also be associated with psychological values like speed and agility, which are directly related to physical activity during exercise.
What gives the shirt its distinctive look is the laser-cut fabric, which allows for the expansion much like netting. I see this as a trend as designer Sensoree recently did a Kirigami cut on one of her designs. It’s really solving the issue of how to have clothing that expands, but then returns back to its original shape. For Simone’s shirt, the bright lining colors peeking through help to accentuate the different areas of the body. Check out the shirt in action and notice how the fabric rolls up on itself in the center section. This is a nice feat because working with motors in tighter fitting clothing is not an easy task.
One of the advantages of wearables with sensors is that they have the ability to translate our thoughts and actions into something visual and yet abstract. Simone’s work is focused on that more artistic and natural expression. I like to compare it to a good user interface where change seems intuitive.
Unlike the existing self-tracking apps, the muscle shirt’s transitions do not include any fixed steps, nor imply any categories. The transitions correspond with the human body perception and deliver a completely haptic experience. The registered measurements are also communicated in a visual way. The upper layer of the fabric has a finely sliced structure that gets pulled apart through the contraction and reveals an underlying colored layer. The originally monotonous-seeming grey fabric transforms into a colorful and lively looking piece of fashion and second skin.
So why this over a Fitbit? Sometimes it’s just bothersome to have to look at a watch when you are jogging, and honestly, when you need to wear contacts to see the numbers it all gets a bit old. The haptic experience that Simone is working on immediately gives you the feedback you need. In fact, it makes me think that Fitbit needs to add the ability for the wearer to set an alarm for heart rate so that it triggers a vibration for different levels of fitness. That would be smarter than having to tap constantly to view your heart rate. Of course, fussing about improvements to a band is helpful, but inventing a new wearable that feels like it is part of the body is always a better option. Do you have ideas of what you think would make a great design for fitness wear? Definitely take a look at our Heart Rate Educational Pack. This is a sensor band worn around the rib cage that transmits to a receiver attached to your Arduino of choice. It’s a fun way to learn about wearable tech and practical, too. Get fit the DIY way!
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!