Calgary couple creates fashionable, wearable tech

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Calgary couple creates fashionable, wearable tech
WATCH: A Calgary couple is teaming up to make next-level fashion pieces, joining technology with art. As Adam Toy explains, they’re inspiring more than just fashionistas – Mar 2, 2020

Ryan and Kathryn Blair started creating dresses in 2013. Their pieces are a union of art and industrial design.

“One of the things that I’m most interested in exploring with these dresses is the idea of, ‘What can we use technology to know about ourselves and how do we share that?,'” Kathryn Blair said.

One piece, called “Positive Feedback,” uses LEDs and tiny motors called servos to light up and move the dress from responses on Twitter.

“The dress has several states that it’s in that reflect the Twitter activity of the person whose Twitter account is connected,” Kathryn Blair said.

“As the dress moves up and down, the hemline being higher indicates they’re having more Twitter activity or getting more retweets and at-replies and things like that.”

Kathryn Blair does the design and Ryan Blair — a heavy industrial designer — brings the mechanical parts of the dress to life with tools he uses at work.

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“I use CAD software and 3D printing to design the mechanisms, make sure that they have the motion that I want and then I can 3D print prototypes and sometimes actually use the 3D printed parts right in the piece,” Ryan Blair said.

“Some dresses are more mechanically complicated than others. This one wasn’t too bad. Once I figured out the basic motion about how to move the hoop skirt with the servos, the rest of it went together pretty well.”

The couple says these projects bring them closer together.

“Working together on these projects, I think has allowed us to think about how we think similarily and expose those ways that we do approach problems in the same way,” Kathryn Blair said.

“And then when we have differences of how we want to address a challenge, we can use them as strengths as opposed to like butt heads over it. And then also, it’s always nice to have the person you’re closest with be helping you sort out the dresses. It’s about to go down the runway and stuff like that. It’s very comforting.”

Kathryn Blair hopes having her dresses showcased around the world inspire a new generation

“You can get some of these tools and start building crazy things. At age eight, at age 12, at age five, probably, and start kind of making your dreams come true and shape what you think the future of technology should be.”

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