Under the skin: Wearable technology futures

Brough, Dean (2015) Under the skin: Wearable technology futures. [Design/Architectural Work]

[img] Accepted Version (Image: JPEG 4MB)
Image credit: Dean Brough
Submitted Version (Image: JPEG 874kB)
Image credit: Dean Brough


Artist statement – Artisan Gallery

I have a confession to make… I don’t wear a FitBit, I don’t want an Apple Watch and I don’t like bling LED’s. But, what excites me is a future where ‘wearables’ are discreet, seamless and potentially one with our body. Burgeoning E-textiles research will provide the ability to inconspicuously communicate, measure and enhance human health and well-being. Alongside this, next generation wearables arguably will not be worn on the body, but rather within the body…under the skin.

‘Under the Skin’ is a polemic piece provoking debate on the future of wearables – a place where they are not overt, not auxiliary and perhaps not apparent. Indeed, a future where wearables are under the skin or one with our apparel. And, as underwear closets the skin and is the most intimate and cloaked apparel item we wear, this work unashamedly teases dialogue to explore how wearables can transcend from the overt to the unseen.


Wearable Technology, also referred to as wearable computing or ‘wearables’, is an embryonic field that has the potential to unsettle conventional notions as to how technology can interact, enhance and augment the human body. Wearable technology is the next-generation for ubiquitous consumer electronics and ‘Wearables’ are, in essence, miniature electronic devices that are worn by a person, under clothing, embedded within clothing/textiles, on top of clothing, or as stand-alone accessories/devices.

This wearables market is predicted to grow somewhere between $30-$50 billion in the next 5 years (Credit Suisse, 2013). The global ‘wearables’ market, which is emergent in phase, has forecasted predictions for vast consumer revenue with the potential to become a significant cross-disciplinary disruptive space for designers and entrepreneurs.

For Fashion, the field of wearables is arguably at the intersection of the second and third generation for design innovation: the first phase being purely decorative with aspects such as LED lighting; the second phase consisting of an array of wearable devices, such as smart watches, to communicate areas such as health and fitness, the third phase involving smart electronics that are woven into the textile to perform a vast range of functions such as body cooling, fabric colour change or garment silhouette change; and the fourth phase where wearable devices are surgically implanted under the skin to augment, transform and enhance the human body. Whilst it is acknowledged the wearable phases are neither clear-cut nor discreet in progression and design innovation can still be achieved with first generation decorative approaches, the later generation of technology that is less overt and at times ‘under the skin’ provides a uniquely rich point for design innovation where the body and technology intersect as one.

With this context in mind, the wearable provocation piece ‘Under the Skin’ provides a unique opportunity for the audience to question and challenge conventional notions that wearables need to be a: manifest in nature, b: worn on or next to the body, and c: purely functional. The piece ‘Under the Skin’ is informed by advances in the market place for wearable innovation, such as: the Australian based wearable design firm Catapult with their discreet textile biometric sports tracking innovation, French based Spinali Design with their UV app based textile senor to provide sunburn alerts, as well as opportunities for design technology innovation through UNICEF’s ‘Wearables for Good’ design challenge to improve the quality of life in disadvantaged communities.


As part of Artisan’s Wearnext exhibition, the work was on public display from 25 July to 7 November 2015 and received the following media coverage:















Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 91263
Item Type: Creative Work (Design/Architectural Work)
Refereed: No
Funders: Artisan Gallery
Material: Cloth and electronics
Measurements or Duration: 30cm X 20cm
Number of Pieces: 1
Location: From date: To date:
Artisan Gallery Fortitude Valley Brisbane 2015-07-25 2015-11-07
Keywords: Wearable technology, Fashion wearable technology, Fashion technolgy, Design and technology
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > DESIGN PRACTICE AND MANAGEMENT (120300) > Textile and Fashion Design (120306)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Design
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 Dean Brough
Deposited On: 16 Dec 2015 02:06
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2016 03:19

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