UX Awards

The Premier Awards for Exceptional Digital Experience

Expressive Wearable Details


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Expressive Wearable uses clothing as a loud-and-clear communication tool to express the wearer’s dismay at unwanted or unsavoury interaction

Expressive Wearable uses clothing as a loud-and-clear communication tool to express the wearer’s dismay at unwanted or unsavoury interaction. The hat is adorned with small fans that will fold and unfold when the wearer gets accosted with loud noise, bright lights or a body that comes too close.

The project explores clothing as a communication tool. Inspired by haute couture, which is not designed for daily wear but to make a definitive statements, this project imagines a scenario in which clothing directly expresses the wearer’s attitude. More broadly, the project explores how people might playfully use wearables that move and gesture, of what aesthetics these will be, and how wearables might interact with each other in a group situation. This project further proposes that the interaction process and behaviour should be co-authored with designer, user and surroundings. The action of the hat is not entirely controlled by the designer or wearer. It acts on its own, it does make mistakes, but it brings dramatic and performative interactive engagement.

This project speaks up in silence and provokes social conventions by speculating the complexity of human psychological behaviours. Human beings are complex creatures with ambiguous emotional behaviours and actions, but such vague ambiguity has produced a humanity that is fascinating and culturally rich. Expressive Wearable tries to inject such ambiguity into interaction design. It welcomes different interpretation from the audience that would also enrich the interaction itself.

Why this project is worthy of a UX Award:

Expressive Wearables explores the futuristic potentials and scenarios between users and devices. We are surrounded by multiple devices in life already. And it’s inevitable that we are getting more. Most of the current UX designs focus on the optimization and utilization, and try to get devices connected as the “Internet of Things”. It is fascinating that these connected devices makes our life way much easier, but at the end of day, an app is an app, it’s only a tool to use, and it’s, sadly, boring.

How can we manage these devices beyond simple optimization and utilization? How can we create more emotional engagement with these devices rather than a functioning tool? Expressive wearable addresses these missing but crucial issues in UX design by adapting a dramatic and theatrical interaction behavior.

The communication presented through this wearable project is not intended to be “intelligent” or “smart”; it is simple and straightforward. The wearable has a personality not because it is highly intelligent; it is because of its simplicity. Can machine communication advance beyond human communication due to such simplicity? It seems we can see more intelligence in such simplicity compared to our sophisticated human nature.

Submitted By: Sangli Li

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