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Wearable Technology: Where Tech Meets Fashion

A profile of Wei Chieh Shih, designer and engineer

Technology and gadgets continue to amaze us. Who’d have thought a few years ago we’d be watching TV on our smartphones and talking to our consoles? Now the latest trend is not just to leave technology in the living room or even carry it around in your pocket but to make it something we wear, augmenting our clothing and enhancing our daily life. Wearable tech has been around in one form or another for a while but it is only recently that it has started to really take off. Companies like Google, Samsung and Apple working on devices and the fashion industry featuring garments and accessories containing the latest tech from companies like Adafruit at New York Fashion Week.

We’ve been chatting to designer and engineer, Wei Chieh to find out more about how wearable tech is being used. Wei, based in Taipei, has been experimenting with wearable technology for three years. After graduating he began travelling Europe and met numerous other artists who later began to influence his work. He first started to gain a real interest in wearable tech when he was commissioned to design a suit for a pop singer in 2010. After seeing the stage light up, he wanted to incorporate the same idea into the suit. He began to research and experiment with wearable and conductive materials. He doesn’t claim to be a fashion designer but looking at his designs we can see that he focuses on both the fashionable and technological aspects within his projects.

Wei is influenced by the unique characteristics of wearable technology and how small conductive threads can be used to make things such as speakers as well how it can be used to alter a physical form, say the style of a dress or the cut of a suit. His current project is a small toolkit which will contain all the components needed to create simple, wearable technologies. His idea came from his experience collaborating on a project with small villages in Mexico where he taught farmers and workers how to create small toys based on their traditional culture. During the project he found many similarities between their traditions and that of his own work, and he saw for the first time how his designs were able to help a community.

In the future Wei wants to further develop his work to create more forms of art, “I want to create something with wearable tech and then observe the results generated”. He is interested in the types of visual and physical effects that can be created through technology. To find out more about Wei’s past projects and current work you can have a look at his portfolio here.

This year we have seen wearable technology appear in a number of places and it’s gaining huge momentum. Who knows how far we can take it? What wearable tech item of clothing would you find useful? Tweet us @FireTechCamp using #wearabletech. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Photos by: Wei Chieh