New designs by Victoria University of Wellington wearable tech students

Every year the students in the MDDN351 Wearable Technology course, taught by Anne Niemetz, complete individual and group projects to demonstrate the skills they have learned. Below are some of the top individual projects from this year’s wearable technology students.

The Hello Hoodie by Alexia Swan

“As a media design student, I was excited by the opportunity to work on a more hands-on, physical project. This project was my first exploration in the field of wearable tech, which I believe to be an area of design that is becoming ever more important and prominent in our day-to-day lives,” Alexia says.

Alexia’s project is the Hello Hoodie, a piece of wearable tech that can help visually impaired people better navigate their surroundings and avoid danger. Alexia herself is completely blind in her right eye, so her aim was develop a piece of technology that she (and others with similar impairments) could use to navigate.

Alexia’s project comprises a wristband that lights up, and a proximity sensor. The sensor is hidden under her clothing on her right-hand side and detects when people or objects come within 80cm of the sensor. When an object comes close, the wristband (worn on Alexia’s left wrist) lights up, with the lights turning off when the object moves away again.

Whirl by Charlotte Weir

“I have always been interested in experimenting with different art mediums and making costumes. I wanted to learn how to add lights, motors, and sensors into a wearable costume and code them,” Charlotte says.

Charlotte’s project is called Whirl, and is a skirt that lights up for use as a costume piece or special occasion outfit. The skirt has several LED strips attached, along with an accelerometer which makes the skirt light up as the wearer moves.

“I wanted to make a fun piece of wearable technology,” Charlotte says. “The skirt is designed to be a stand-out piece of moving art which would attract people’s attention.”

After creating this model, Charlotte is looking at making different versions of the skirt, including different patterns, textures, and coloured lights.

Cellular Malignancy by Eilish Marra

“I’m interested in designing for the human body to enhance or augment every day behaviours,” Eilish says. “This project was also a chance for me to learn how to write code for the Arduino LilyPad.”

Eilish’s project is called Cellular Malignancy, and is a critique of cell phone addiction. The project involves a series of silicone attachments and a pressure sensor. The sensor causes the silicone attachments to light up when the wearer uses their cellphone for long periods of time. Calibrating the sensor correctly was the biggest challenge, Eilish says.

“I was inspired by the idea that technology could be used to enhance biological behaviours,” Eilish says. “I studied the way the body defends itself against disease, and then designed my project as if cellphone addiction was the disease. I wanted to give the audience a glimpse into a future where our technological addictions have become actual diseases.”

Eilish plans to continue her research in the field of body augmentation through technology.