I've always been hugely into technology - whether it's the newest smart phone, Elon Musk's latest revolutionary breakthrough, or the next Instagram update - they all interest me. I had the chance to ask some questions to some of the key speakers as this years Future of Innovation, Technology and Creativity Conference. I interviewed Aaron James Draplin of Draplin Design, as well as Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao and Anouk Wipprecht. As the owner of Draplin Design Co., Aaron has worked with the likes of Burton Snowboards, Nike and Patagonia. Cindy is an engineer/designer and is currently a PhD researcher at the MIT Media Lab. Her research, themed Hybrid Body Craft, blends aesthetic and cultural perspectives into the design of on-body electronics. Check out the interviews below.
Aaaron James Draplin
Graphic design fascinates me. I'm always curious, how do you ever begin to plan out a piece; where does the inspiration come from?
Every project starts with a conversation with the client, taking notes, deciphering starting points and boiling down the problem at hand into simple plans of attack. And then I start sketching, just because I can’t help myself. But I’ll chill that out and do some research, checking out their competition, market place, workspace or current graphic language. Just to see how they feel and what they are up against. Once I get an idea of where they are at, and hope to go, I’ll dig in.
Inspiration comes from a million places. Could be from a visit to their store, or an antique mall, or just digging through my junk in the shop. Type, color, feel…I make little notes and apply it to the sketches, all racing towards that first presentation of work.
I noticed on your website that you did a lot of snowboard design and work in the past, is there a particular space or industry you prefer to design for?
I’d just say, “Cool Stuff.” And of course, that changes for me. Snowboarding used to be my whole world. But shit, that’s when I was 22. When I finally started working, out of school, focusing on snowboarding magazines and brands, my heart was less and less in it. It was fun as hell to help invent Coal Headwear, Union Binding Company and Snowboard Magazine, but after a decade, I wasn’t the right guy anymore. My heart was in Field Notes, or posters, or logos for friend’s brands in Portland. So like anything, things shift. But my focus always stays on, “Things I Love”.
How do you see design helping to promote global connectivity?
A light question, eh? Best way I can answer this one is this: Think about customs forms. Or forms immigration forms. And someone—who might be fleeing a place or in a scary situation—has to fill out a ton of paperwork. And the design of that paperwork can make or break an experience. Those word, lines and spaces? That’s graphic design. And, if I might be sol bold, once of the most important examples in our lives. Sometimes, it’s the stuff we overlook that makes some of the biggest differences in our lives. That’s design too, just as valid as the latest trend or t-shirt graphic.
Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao
What are some of the practical applications for DuoSkin?
DuoSkin devices allow users to control their mobile devices, display information, and store information on their skin while serving as a statement of personal style. DuoSkin’s metallic tattoo process can store and share data with your smartphone or other such device via near-field communication (NFC) technology—that’s for wireless communication. The NFC can replace your name badge and subway pass. At the same time, DuoSkin’s “touch input” technology enables you to use your skin like a trackpad for activities such as adjusting the volume on your smartphone, turning on lights, or writing text. As well, the tattoo shows information, including your mood and the weather.
How do you see NailO being used in the future?
NailO is a bunch of electronics crammed into the form factor of a tiny nail art sticker. It uses capacitive touch sensors—the same sort in smartphone screens—to detect gestures. There’s also a battery, microcontroller, and a Bluetooth chip that connects NailO to any Bluetooth-enabled gadget.
You can use NailO to control your phone or computer when your hands are full, “like a third hand.” But technically, you could program NailO to do whatever you want.
Moreover, NailO rethinks a more discreet interaction with our gadgets. Unlike voice-controlled commands or gesturing on the smartphone, using NailO is a discreet, silent act. You could be in a meeting and respond to urgert text messages with a simple tap on your index finger, or even swipe across your thumb to ignore a call altogether.
With a NailO on each finger, it is also possible to turns your fingernails into a continuous scroll bar. You can also map specific functions to each finger. Tap your pinkie to switch the song, and swipe up on your thumb to increase volume. You can also programming each finger to call a specific person. The ring finger could be the person your married to, or someone who you don’t like can be mapped to the middle finger!
Hope you guys enjoyed the interviews, to check out these speakers and attend the conference you can find tickets and more information here.
How do you think Technology will change clothing in the next 5 years?
Garments will become more interactive, and we will not only think of how we embed electronics in our designs,but also what new kinds of interactions that will steer; as our garments can listen to our bodies - how can we socialize in new ways using technology that transcends genuine data on how we feel, love and live.
Are there any big brands that are already making these connections?
Intel is big on pushing wearables, Samsung, Google, IBM... are all looking into the next generation of devices, and especially devices that move out of the screen and seep into the fabrics and designs we wear on our body.
What do you see as the most important result of combining Fashion and Technology?
Innovation: within the field FashionTech we still have to battle some thing: washability (how to wash our electronics), energising (how to charge them using sustainable and safe ways), how to maintain them (what if it breaks?) and also; networking: what if the network or connection falls out while your data is depending on it? These are all questions this new field is raising: and with questions we can search for answers. Innovation on how to bring these concepts to life in an safe and meaningful cause.