A team of researchers from the University of Maryland, MD, USA together with the Microsoft Research team have come up with a smart fashion idea in the shape of an emotion reading piece of clothing. This ‘fashiontech’ scarf was designed to help the wearers determine their own emotional state. Called SWARM (Sensing Whether Affect Requires Mediation), this intelligent piece of smart fashion accessory shows the amazing possibilities technology holds for the future of garment industry.
At the initial stage, Swarm, the smart fashion scarf, was designed to help the wearer handle own emotions by supplying the required pieces of information in a visual or auditive way, aimed at people with disabilities. In the more advanced stages of the prototype, Swarm was paired with wearer’s emotional state to play live music when the wearer is sad, or relaxing music when the wearer is stressed. Some of the emotions that the device automatically reacts to are stress, sadness, calmness, happiness, and excitement.
The inspirations used to develop the scarf comes from the weighted vests used in ASD therapy. The initial concept was designed for people with autism, hearing and visual impairments and the garment choice as a scarf is backed up by many reasons. For example, scarves are widely used in fashion as accessories, and this custom applies all over the world. As such, the person wearing Swarm would not feel like using an assistive device but rather a fashionable accessory.
The research team is headed by Michele A. Williams, a PhD Candidate in Human-Centered Computing in the Information Systems Department at UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County). The prototype is an adjustable laser-cut garment made of hexagons of modern felt coated with conductive copper taffeta. A more advanced prototype shows that some of the components can change their temperature while others can vibrate or pulsate. The scarves connect via Bluetooth technology to any smartphones that have installed the Swarm compatible app.
Researchers are still working on future developments of the scarf hoping the latest model would be able to monitor more than human emotions but also the wearer’s heart rate, surrounding pollution and much more. Bookmark this page for more info on this project.