A museum in Chicago is showing us what the future has to offer in terms of transformative tech and fashion.
Last month, I was invited to take a sneak peek at the new Wired To Wear exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. Frankly, it was an uplifting experience.
Upon stepping onto the premises, the word “grand” comes to mind. The Museum of Science and Industry is a momentous Greek or Roman-esque building that feels like you’re entering a Neo-Classical temple. But as soon as you walk in, the experience changes into the familiar.
Growing up, many of us took school/family trips to museums, and this museum fits that experience to a T. From the moment I stepped in, there were children and families running around with excitement in the air. With technology at visitors’ fingers in a “please touch” fashion, the Museum of Science and Industry is a place where education and entertainment meet.
But once I’d gotten over the polished atmosphere and academic mood, it was time to prepare for the main event. You see, this exhibit sneak peek included a preview of a certain Iron-Man-like flying suit by Richard Browning of Gravity Industries. As reporters, school children, and staff all gathered to watch the event, there was an air of anticipation. The staff’s radio equipment buzzed with frenzied conversations, reporters, like myself, stood anxiously preparing cameras, notepads, and expectations, and children jumped nervously as time struck by.
And then, on a wet and rainy afternoon, a man flew in front of me.
But that was just the beginning of the experience. The start of what the exhibit had to offer.
The Wired To Wear exhibit was built around the idea of how technology and fashion can merge to help our modern needs. The exhibit features items from brands, designers, engineers, and artists from over 15 countries. From recognized companies and institutions like Google, Harvard University, Microsoft, MIT, and NASA to celebrity artists and designers like Anouk Wipprecht, Melissa Coleman, Lisa Ling, and more.
The exhibit hosts a wide variety of wearable technology to better the lives of users. Each one was created with the idea of making us humans smarter, stronger, more expressive, and more capable of living out our daily lives.
Some exhibited technologies include:
- The smart animative backpack by Pix, which allows you to express yourself by lighting up your bag with emojis, gifs, and other basic images.
- A host of technology created for the betterment of people like a glitter shooting prosthetic arm by 13-year-old amputee Jordan Reeves or sports equipment used to enhance the performance of athletes.
- The Marlene Dietrich Dress by ElektroCouture, which uses a headpiece to connect with the user’s emotions and thoughts. The dress then uses LEDs, Bluetooth technology and specially-made Swarovski crystals to change color based on the wearer’s mood.
- Victor Mateevisti’s SpiderSense Vest that allows the user to sense obstacles in their way (which was created with the visually-impaired in mind).
- The Iridescence collar by Behnaz Farahi that uses hundreds of actuators and vision-activated technology to follow your gaze and react with life-like behavior. For instance, the collar expresses anger and anxiety with fast jittery movements!
These are just a few of the wearable technologies exhibited at the museum. Each one is used to express the wearer and enhance his or her life.
“Wearable technology has been steadily gaining momentum for years and is on the cusp of taking hold in mainstream society. We believe this is the absolute right time to show people the innovation underway and help our guests understand why their closet will look radically different in only a few years,” said David Mosena, president and chief executive officer, MSI. “We are thrilled to open Wired to Wear and are confident that the experience will redefine how people think about wearable technology and what it can become.”
This is a sentiment shared by Daniela O’Leary-Gill, the Executive Vice President and U.S. Chief Operating Officer of BMO Financial Corp, who is a board member for MSI.
“Wired to Wear will bring some of the most cutting-edge innovation to our community and drive more exploration of STEM career opportunities,” said O’Leary-Gill. “BMO embraces the spirit of innovation and proudly champions MSI’s quest to educate and inspire people of all ages.”
As O’Leary-Gill notes, this Wired To Wear exhibit is right-up the alley of Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.
The museum is one of the largest and most significant science museums in the world. From an architectural standpoint, the Neo-Classical building’s large ionic columns can be seen from miles away. The building itself is a landmark within the South Side of Chicago. In addition, it’s a landmark in the history of architecture with it being built back in 1893 for the World’s Columbian Exposition.
But what’s on the inside, and the mission served from within, is what’s truly extraordinary. MSI is dedicated to inspiring visitors, and most notably students, to comprehend and pursue exploring the worlds of science, technology, medicine, and engineering. With a plethora of exhibits like Wired to Wear and the Welcome to Science Initiative, the museum and its staff put the most effort into educating the world about the possibilities and realities of science and industry.
That commitment to education and forwarding innovation shines through in the Wired To Wear exhibit. One portion of the 8,000 square foot exhibit is a dedicated room for imagination and creation. Visitors can sit down and create designs for new wearable technologies with the aid of museum staff. They guide you through conceptualizing how technology and fashion can help with any problem imaginable and then stick the idea on their wall like a refrigerator magnet of honor.
For staff and designers behind Wired To Wear and the Museum of Science and Industry, the goal is bettering humanity with scientific tools. And if you look stylish while doing it, that’s all the better.
If you ever find yourself in the Chicago area, whether you have a kid or not, I highly recommend you check out the Wired To Wear exhibit and the MSI. You’re never too old to learn and explore.
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