Feel-good fashion

A great story about wearable tech in the form of mood-detecting clothes caught my eye this week. According to manufacturer Wearable Absence, the clothes contain sensors which use biofeedback to detect the wearer’s emotional state and respond with ‘digital memories’ pre-determined by the wearer. The garments then produce an appropriate response to help alter the wearer’s mood.

Prototype wearable tech is nothing new – the Gadget Show has covered it quite a bit (video below) and even challenged Jason and Suzi to come up with their own items in one episode. Most of the applications of wearable tech seem to be either emotional (such as the shirts that send and receive hugs from the vid below) or for entertainment purposes (the various different hats containing headphones are probably the most practical and popular example).

There’s not yet a lot of tech small enough to fit into clothing that is also practical and stylish – I can imagine a mobile phone in a hat, for example, but not one with full smartphone functionality. If body temperature and heart rate can be monitored discreetly by garments, however, couldn’t fabric be engineered to get warmer and colder to maintain the wearer’s comfort? Ideally, you’d preset it to maintain a chosen temperature to take into account people’s preferences.  For power and weight reasons, it would also help if the temperature changes were created by modifications to the fabric rather than separate heating and cooling devices woven into the garments.

I’ve had a quick look and can’t see any clothes out there that do this convincingly (let me know if I’ve missed some) but there could be a huge market for them. People who are out and about in changing temperatures – park rangers, festival goers, walkers, outdoor emergency services – older people particularly susceptible to winter weather, menopausal women having hot flushes, people like me who just get hot and cold easily.