Lately we’ve covered a lot of wearable technology, from pretty smart to kind of stupid. Dutch designer Boore Akkersdijk takes issue with the term—he insists that it’s really “carry-able technology,” not wearable technology. He’s referring to all the clip-on devices we have, like Google Glass and smart trainers. So he decided to make what he deems a truly wearable piece of technology. The BB Suit, which looks a little bit like the Dude’s bathrobe, allows the wearer not just to connect to Wi-Fi but to be Wi-Fi.
The suit itself offers online access, so someone wearing it has moving GPS, Bluetooth, and access-point capabilities. Akkersdijk debuted the suit at SXSW, the Austin music, film, and interactive art and media trade show. He was able to broadcast the wearer’s location on Google Maps. Others at the show could upload music onto the BB Suit, where it becomes part of a traveling, evolving playlist.
The Suit is a collaboration between Akkersdijk’s company, ByBorre, music platform 22Tracks, and a number of other organizations and companies that joined together to demonstrate the future of truly wearable technology. The background of the suit is pretty fascinating, ByBorre was working on making pillows for people with dementia, allowing them to communicate via the vibrations when their other senses become disabled. That’s what triggered their approach to 3D knitting, which allows technology to be imbedded in the fabric. The company uses circular knitting machines and, of course, hacks them to produce multiple layers and designs. Niels Hoebers made a stunning animation of this process.
The BB Suit translates body movements into other actions and interfaces. If you get cold, the device detects goosebumps or lower body temperature and can tell you about a nearby sweater sale. It can enact countermeasures (soothing music, perhaps, or a silly video) against an elevated stress level. The possibilities are endless. But first, the challenges in bringing the suit to fruition have to be met. Right now, the batteries, processors, and actuators are all tucked into the pockets of the Suit, but in the future those will probably have to go elsewhere. However, inserting them between layers of fabric isn’t necessarily the best solution either, depending on one’s location and how warm it is there.
Still, Borre is undeterred. Working out of a refurbished cookie factory in Amsterdam, he and his team are working to join fashion and technology. Eventually they hope to develop a platform that will allow them to join together nearly any type of textile with any type of tech. I really want someone wearing the BB Suit to put on the incredible music-making gloves. Talk about a double threat.