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10 August 2017

Kino Kinetic Wearables Allow Clothing to Automatically Adapt to Changing Conditions

Recently developed by a team comprised of researchers, designers and engineers from Stanford University, MIT Media Lab and the Royal College of Art, Kino kinetic wearables act as a form of “living jewellery”, allowing for clothing that can adapt in response to personal stylistic preferences or differing climates and environmental conditions.

Essentially a set of miniaturised robots which attach to unmodified clothing via a series of magnetised rollers, two placed atop the clothing and one beneath, a motorised upper roller allows the device to move about the garment and perform a variety of tasks in the process.

The research team said of the prototype wearables, “Engineered with the functionality of miniaturised robotics, this ‘living’ jewellery roams on unmodified clothing, changing location and reconfiguring appearance according to social context and enabling multiple presentations of self.

“Attached to garments, they generate shape-changing clothing and kinetic pattern designs – creating a new, dynamic fashion.”

The functionality of these tiny robots goes far beyond the aesthetic however, as they can be paired with various other devices to enable them to perform a number of useful tasks. By pairing the wearables with smartphones, integrated microphones and speakers, they could allow the wearer to listen to music or even make calls via the devices. Embedded sensors also allow the devices to detect and respond to changing weather conditions, whether that be automatically zipping up in response to plummeting temperatures, opening vents to improve airflow and combat perspiration, or pulling down the hood of a jacket as rain ceases to fall.

The team said of this added functionality, “With the addition of sensor devices, they can actively respond to environmental conditions. They can also be paired with existing mobile devices to become personalised on-body assistants to help complete tasks.

“It is our vision that in the future, these robots will be miniaturised to the extent that they can be seamlessly integrated into existing practices of body ornamentation.”

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for the written word. Currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor, his time at many UK festivals has taught him the importance of keeping warm.