Maker Movement Mania

You might not wear this Environment Dress, but the tech could save your life


It doesn’t look like the sort of clothing that will inspire the future of fashion. Yet, this unique Environment Dress recently won Telefonica’s Next Project Things 2015 competition (Behaviour category), thanks to a bold mix of art, design and open-source IoT technology.

It’s a far cry from other tech-gowns that we’ve seen on IQ recently. It’s bulkier than the 4D-printed Kinematics Dress by Nervous System and it’s less aggressive than Anouk Wipprecht’s six-limbed Spider Dress. Neither is it as flashy (literally) as Zoë Klintberg’s Edison-powered Éōs dress, which features almost 900 individually addressable LEDs.

Instead, the prototype dress is function over style, a 1970s-style view of the future that goes beyond displaying shimmering light patterns and capturing biometric measurements. It is ever changing, lights pulsing and changing colour; servos clicking. Check out the video below to see it in action.

But could a dress save your life?

“We live surrounded by pollutants, factors that influence our daily lives, in our moods and ultimately our behavior,” say Environment Dress creators María Castellanos & Alberto Valverde. “The different variations of noise, temperature, atmospheric pressure, ultraviolet radiation, or the amount of carbon monoxide are among other factors to which we submit daily.”

Consequently, the dress uses an array of sensors to analyse the surrounding environment, squirting the data via Bluetooth to a companion smartphone app. By checking the collected sensor information against software installed on an Internet server, the wearer of the dress can be notified if high levels of UV or carbon monoxide are detected. Feedback is expressed by lighting changes across the garment’s multiple LEDs.


Powered by open source Arduino hardware, Castellanos and Valverde also envision the dress acting as part of a network. The environmental information measured by the dress will be geo-tagged and ultimately piped into a database, which can be viewed by anyone who connects to the app or the project’s web site.

The Environment Dress is one of several projects by Castellanos and Valverde, who work together under the name uh513. Those projects include wearables designed to measure UV exposure and CLOROFILA 3.0, a device that measures the changing electrical pulses in plants (due to temperature, light and air movement) and expresses it as sound.

Find out more about uh513’s work at — Dean Evans (@evansdp)

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