Q&A With Wearable Tech Fashion Product Winner Rowan Verbraak
The FashioNXT Wearable Technology Fashion Competition merges fashion and technology, encouraging designers to make technology wearable in a way that stimulates the public’s imagination. In 2016 FashioNXT divided the competition into two categories; product and vision. Rowan Verbraak of the Netherlands was the judges chosen winner for the Product category with Vorografia, a dance outfit with screen-printed a E-Link to create interactivity with the dancer and the stage. FashioNXT is looking forward to learning more about Rowan’s product, and plans for 2017 through a wind of questions.
FashioNXT: Tell us about your winning design; what does it do?
Rowan V: Vorografia is a product and service consisting of interactive dancewear. Various design element (Voronoi tesselation, parametric design, e-inks, embedded hardware) come together to realise a specific user-interaction. Physical movement during dance performances is measured and can be real-time converted into stage output e.g. light effects, music, projection, etc. Voronoi patterns screenprinted with a special e-ink that behaves as a resistive stretch sensor enable this sensing. These patterns are generated by 3D-scanning the dancer during the production phase.
An important aspect of the product that differentiates it from other interactive garments is the absence of wiring. Instead only screenprinting is used. The control unit is connected to the voronoi patterns with electrically conductive traces also screenprinted.
FashioNXT: How did you find out about FashioNXT
Rowan V: The link to the FashioNXT competition was shared on facebook by my former education department Wearable Senses. That’s how I came across it.
FashioNXT: How do you FashioNXT improve the competition?
Rowan V: I believe a bit more transparancy on what elements the products are being judged on would be nice. Also it would be amazing if i could be linked to experts or companies that have specific knowledge on helping me solve some very specific issues with Vorografia that I need to solve before the product can be further developed. I need expertise on the 3D-scanning and algorithmic conversion to voronoi patterns, the integration of the control unit and the durability of the e-inks.
FashioNXT: As you know making tech fashionable is the biggest challenge for wearables, how do you approach fashion in your design?
Rowan V: My background is more technological and in interaction design rather than in fashion, so of course I always go to fashion designers for advice. Nevertheless style is so important for any product. The technology and style should always enhance each other. I develop this through explorations and testing e.g. different materials, patterns and cuts and evaluating.
I can make a prototype for a demonstration for PR purposes, not very difficult. However developing for the market is something way more difficult. My product is part of a service where the dance team is 3D scanned, the outfits are calibrated with the dancers and the developers, and continuous involvement of both sides is needed when designing the dance performance. So it is not a standalone product. Furthermore it has to conform to the stretchability and breathability of dancewear and it has to be durable enough. The biggest issue with embedded interaction in clothing these days is the durability, especially when working with stretch. This really requires more research.
FashioNXT: What are the challenges you are facing to take your product to (market your product) the next level?
Rowan V: My personal issue right now is that I do not have enough funds to access the equipment (good 3D-scanners, screenprint studio, large lasercutter), materials (excellent fabrics, better control unit) and expertise (3D scan algorithms, large-scale production possibilities, movement to output algorithms). I would love to further develop it. The product is a complex one with multiple aspects that do still need research and development.
FashioNXT:What should people expect from you at your 2017 FashioNXT exhibit?
Rowan V: For the coming FashioNXT event I do want to create a demonstrator outfit in which a dancer can perform as well as samples that illustrate the technology and materials I used.
Learn more about Rowan Verbraak at: http://rowanverbraak.com/
Applications for the 2017 FashioNXT Wearable Technology Fashion Competion are available now; it is a great opportunity for brand exposure and growing your business. Apply here if you’re interested: