We really like what this designer has been doing with wearable tech, including some beautiful work with e-textiles. We’re excited to introduce you to her! Lina Wassong has also co-authored a book about light, electronics, and programming and is working on a second book about wearables and e-textiles. We caught up with Lina to tell us about what she does and her journey to get there.
Tell us about what you do.
With my designs, I’m exploring how we can create new interfaces between the human body, garments and electronic components. My pieces have integrated sensors to measure the electrical signals running through our bodies or changes in the environment. Those signals are then transmitted to a microcontroller in order to process and visualize the recorded data. I’m always thinking about how we will seamlessly connect and communicate with electronic components in the future and I want to find new ways of digitalizing the environment and our transient biosignals.
What was your path to get here?
While taking fashion classes in Los Angeles, I realized that the technical aspect of clothing interested me most. I started studying Clothing Engineering in Hamburg where I learned about the chemistry of fibers, clothing physiology and pattern making. However, I quickly realized I wanted to create something new and more interactive, rather than reproducing styles.
First, I started integrating lights into my garments and did research about the structure of conductive metal yarn as well as integrating soft circuits and microcontrollers into clothing. I became fascinated with all the possibilities opening up by using sensors, since they can detect so many tiny changes in our environment that we, as human beings, never even notice.
What are you most excited about for the future?
First of all, I’m curious to see how the clothing industry will change. Textile engineers are researching amazing nanofibers and multifunctional textiles. Also, preexisting technology is continually improving such as fabrics with incorporated phase-change materials (PCMs). Those PCMs can store, release or absorb heat as they change between solid and liquid form, depending on the outside temperature. Having smart garments which can perfectly adapt to our physiological needs would be very exciting – no more freezing or overheating. Going a step further, it’s going to be very interesting when we can seamlessly connect our pieces to the IoT cloud and actually upload software onto our garments. Instead of buying new pieces, we just download the latest look or even behavior in order to change our outfit. However, clothing will become more functional and, eventually, connect to our body. I’m also curious to see how our society will adapt to self-driving cars but that’s a totally different story.
Can you tell us about your book you co-wrote?
Last June, a few other authors and I published an O’Reilly book about DIY projects involving light, electronics and programming. It was an interesting process coming up with the book’s structure as well as ordering the projects in the right order, from easiest to most complex. Since we had different backgrounds, ranging from electrical engineers to teachers, it was great to see how everybody helped each other: like photographing or reviewing the projects. In the end, we wrote the book within six weeks. It was a lot of work but definitely worth it. I’m always happy writing tutorials and teaching workshops that encourage people to start using microcontrollers and programing a little.
What’s next for you?
I want to do more research on how we can measure, process and visualize our emotions using garments as an interface. However, the possibilities are endless and there are still so many sensors and microcontrollers on my desk I want to experiment with. Also, we’re planning on a new wearables book and I’m thinking about the content as well as interesting but easy-to-make e-textile projects to impart as much knowledge as possible.
Find out more about Lina Wassong and her projects by visiting her website here. We are excited to keep her on our radar!
Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.