Everyday fashion, 21st century engineering

When you hear about fashion and technology what are the first things that come to mind? Maybe an Apple Watch? A Fitbit fitness tracker?

Can you think of something that isn’t worn on the wrist? Here are 5 ways that new technology is changing fashion for the better!

A different kind of fast fashion: Laser-cut fabric

It sounds high tech, but you’ve probably spotted laser-fabric the last time you were at the mall! If you’ve seen very intricate and precise, doily-like hole patterns on dresses, those were more than likely cut using a guided laser with the pattern uploaded to a computer. Using a laser provides accuracy, clean cuts and fast production times if done right. A decade ago, this technology was too expensive for most mass produced clothing and was strictly for runway designs. Today, production processes and techniques have improved and become cheaper and fast, which is why you can readily find laser-cut clothing at the mall. You can learn more in this great article from Engadget.

If you are an aspiring fashion designer yourself, laser cutting shops exist and can create your custom design with the fabric you choose for a fee. Below is a video of a designer going through her process and experimenting with laser cutting.

Back to the future: Self-lacing shoes

The movie Back to the Future Part II featured a pair of futuristic looking shoes called the Nike MAG. These shoes had light up panels and laced themselves. Since the release of the movie in 1989, people have been clamouring for self-lacing shoes. They would be super-convenient, not to mention change the lives for the elderly and people with disabilities who may struggle to get their shoes on and off on a daily basis.

Well in 2015, after years of development, Nike came up with a real life prototype version. One of the first people to try it on was actor Michael J. Fox, who played the main character in the Back to the Future movies. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, a disease that affects motor function, so the development self-lacing shoes has dual meaning for him.

Thanks to the hard work of Tinker Hatfield, the designer of many Nike shoes including Air Jordans, and Tiffany Beers, a plastics engineer and former Engineering Director at Nike HQ, these developments have lead to the possibility of mass-market sneakers that not only tighten themselves, but mold exactly to the unique shape of your foot.

Webbed feet: 3-d printed soles

Speaking of the unique shape of your foot, what if you could go to the sporting goods store, scan yourself and come back later for a running shoe just for you? That’s what Adidas wants to accomplish with their FUTURECRAFT 4D technology, a design that takes advantage of 3-d printing technology to create the a latticed sole for your shoe. For now, we have shoes that are sized by length and sometimes width, but what if you could consider your weight, the way you walk, the way you run and so on, all in one package?

What if that 3-d printed shoe also helped get plastic out of our oceans and reused it?

Canadian tech tuxedos: Bluetooth jean jackets

Back in 2015 it was announced that two San Francisco area companies would collaborate. Curiously, one of the companies wasn’t an app company, it was the denim company Levi’s. Their project is called “Jacquard”, which is the name of a type of textile loom and naturally, they want to make fabric that is woven with conductive threads. These conductive threads can recognize body movements and gestures while staying hidden within the fabric of any piece of clothing. The first product to come out of the project us Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket, which despite the long name, looks like a regular jean jacket. Except it’s not: instead of looking at your phone to do things like answer calls, you can tap or swipe on your sleeve. Let’s hope Google and Levi’s have more products to come soon! Thank you to Fast Company for the review!

Double nerdy spectacles: Smart glasses

Computer hardware company Intel has developed a pair of smart glasses that can project readable text right into your eyeball. Smart glasses were first produced by Google with their Google Glass device. However, they never really caught on due to privacy concerns (it had a camera) and they just looked a little too strange for the public’s taste. Intel’s smart glasses just look like regular glasses, and they don’t try and accomplish as much as Google’s attempt. For more info, check out the great video below by The Verge.

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