Wearable tech: How three designers weave technology into fashion

2. Designing to the beat of your heart

Soft light flutters down the model’s dress, one wave after another. They repeat in a pattern, but the waves don’t match music or movement. No, the dress’s lights are flowing in rhythm to the model’s heartbeat. This is the Presence of Heart dress.

Tech-inspired fashion designer and author Alison Lewis created Presence of Heart as a way to showcase her ideas for the fashion industry. The dress shows everyone the wearer’s heart beat in real time. Made of 28 LED lights, the HeartBeat dress made its debut at 2012’s SXSW show in Austin, Texas.

“What’s more vulnerable than showing your heart when you’re talking on stage?” says Ms. Lewis. “It shows intimacy, [clothing is] about us as human beings." 

The LED-lit dress gives off a soft glow. And while it may appear to be one whole piece, the dress is actually split into two parts. The outside fabric covers a slip that holds the lights in place and monitors the heart.

“I want to play with what we choose to share, and clothing is the ideal vehicle,” she says.

Lewis says that she designed her company, Agent of Presence, to embody her own “personal quirkiness.” The start-up and this illuminating dress aim to wed fashion and technology in a subtle way.

“It’s not Vegas lights. It’s designed to be soft. The more subtle the light, the better it is,” says Lewis. “We avoid anything that looks like kids’ blink shoes. I’m tired of [wearable] technology looking cheap.”

While the dress was a fun experiment for Lewis, Agent of Presence’s first product will be an illuminated purse called Geometry Darling. Geometry Darling can be worn as a normal clutch or lit up, with the underlying panels shimmering with an intricate design and lighting.

There will be 200 Geometry Darlings made to sell to the public, for $1,200 each.

“There’s nothing out there like this," she says. "If girls are going to go enter the technology field, we should be putting our mark out there.”

Lewis says that those who cannot afford their own Geometry Darling can still enjoy wearable technology. Her book, "Switch Craft," instructs readers on how to make your own wearable-tech items.

“ 'Switch Craft' is about independence and individuality with fashionable form and function," says Lewis's blog, IHeartSwitch.com. "It’s about technology’s role in empowering women to represent their ideals however they choose."

Lewis says that the book is her way of sharing her ideas and excitement with the world. “When you really love something," she says, "you want to share it."

For more tech news, follow Aimee on Twitter, @aimee_ortiz

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