Last month (September 2016) I traveled to Heidelberg, Germany, for the 20th International Symposium on Wearable Computers (ISWC), held at the gorgeous art nouveau Kongresshaus Stadthalle Heidelberg. ISWC is the world’s foremost symposium for issues pertaining to on the body and worn wearable technologies and shares a conference venue with Ubicomp, concerned with ubiquitous computing. The symposium attracts attendees from all over the world: from researchers to designers, start-ups and manufacturers, all eager to hear about the latest advances and products, prototypes and related information.
Kongresshaus Stadthalle Heidelberg, venue for ISWC/Ubicomp 2016
2016 is my 5th year of attending ISWC and my 5th year of exhibiting my wearable tech work in its Design Exhibition, which requires the submission of a paper to a jury who select work to appear at the exhibition in the categories of Aesthetic, Functional and Fibre Arts. The exhibition took place in the Sebastian Münster Saal of Kongresshaus Stadthalle Heidelberg over 3 days of the symposium.
This year I exhibited my AnemoneStarHeart EEG pendant, an emotive wearable and multifunctional device. It is an illuminated, 3D printed heart-shaped pendant, that is an iteration of my 2013 EEG Visualising Pendant for social situations. It evolved via input from my focus group and field trial feedback looking at potential wearers of emotive wearables. Its aim is to be used for visualising and displaying EEG data between couples, close friends and family, either worn, held or used to light up a room via its super bright RGB LEDs. It is also a device to aid the wearer’s relaxation or productivity monitoring purposes, for example through meditation. The device maps ‘meditation’ and ‘attention’ data sent from an EEG headset and displays it by illuminating the AnemoneStarHeart pendant accordingly. If you would like to read my ISWC paper on AnemoneStarHeart, it’s available from the ACM Digital Library or please ask for a copy.
Highlights of the Design Exhibition included: Jorge & Esther’s Programmable Plaid dress, Lucie Hernandez encouraged play through textiles with her Touchplay: Crafting Material Affinities work, Berit Greinke et al’s Interactive Workwear: Smart Maintenance Jacket, and Sally-Sue Lee et al’s Fleurtech: Transformable Smart Dress, which changed in length for changing situations and contexts. Details of all exhibits can be found here. Thanks very much to James Hallam for his tireless work as Design Exhibition chair this year.
Jorge & Esther’s Programmable Plaid dress.
Before the full conference began I attended two days of workshops. The first was run as a collaboration of MIT Media Lab, Harvard Medical School, Saarland University and Microsoft Research: (UnderWare) Aesthetic, Expressive, and Functional On-Skin Technologies. It comprised of an exciting day of presentations from researchers and designers from around the world of their amazing wearable technology prototypes to be worn on the skin. There included many questions and discussion on subjects as diverse as ethics to the challenges of retail/production
(UnderWare) Aesthetic, Expressive, and Functional On-Skin Technologies workshop, Marina Toeters presenting.
One of Troy Nachtigall’s diabetic shoe prototypes at the Underware workshop.
On day two, I attended Collective Adaptation in Very Large Scale Ubicomp: Towards a Superorganism of Wearables, a fascinating workshop which discussed how connected devices could shape planetary supeorganism networks and looked at questions such as how we program these as a single system to work for us and help us in everyday situations from crowd control to infrastructure and the management of large complex hubs such as transport or hospital management.
Cindy Hsin Lio Kao et al’s amazing DuoSkin tattoos.
The conference then spanned the next three days with sessions focusing on topics from fabrics, textiles and skin made smart to haptics, activity recognition and sensing, extended realities, industry and interaction. More details can be found on the ISWC website and papers can be found in the proceedings. The final day keynote was given by Rosalind Picard, whose work with affective computing has been an important and inspirational contribution to my field in physiological data capturing wearables. I was lucky enough to meet her and briefly show her my AnemoneStarHeart pendant.
Meeting Rosalind Picard after her keynote at ISWC.
ISWC/Ubicomp is going to be held in Maui, Hawaii, next year! In order to take part I’m going to need some serious funding, so please send any ideas/opportunities for financing my trip.