Envisioning Value-Rich Design for IoT Wearables

2019-09-13T09:19:54Z (GMT) by Caroline McMillan
The mass-market fashion industry maintains complex economic structures globally. In recent years, the adverse consequences of commercialisation driven by this system have given rise to innovation in production systems, material cultures, and consumer awareness of waste. Alongside issues of long-term lifespan and ecological impact of wearables (wearable technology), focus on the values and thought processes that shape practices within the clothing sector are under-represented. The integration of emerging wireless technologies in garments heightens this problem. The potential to access, collectively experience, wear, monitor or exploit personal data is only just beginning to be understood. In this paper, the author explores the role value-sensitive design [7] plays to further embed sustainability into wearables ideation. From value-sensitive design, the Envisioning Cards toolkit [5] is employed to guide speculation in the design case of Aura:maton, an Internet of Things (IoT) connected garment with an olfactory-emitting display. With this in mind, the 'social, economic and aesthetic force' [3] of fashion is leveraged as a living network metaphor, in order to frame everyday experiences of an IoT ecosystem. Exploratory workshops trace how people perceive value-tensions of wirelessly networked garments. The author's evaluations show the potential of Envisioning Cards to connect the broader social, cultural, economic or political issues as conceptual design tactics, to avoid blind spots. This paper discusses how designers could intentionally explore value dimensions alongside the technologically possible, as they negotiate material-immaterial conditions during fashion wearables development. Interweaving values into decisions of what gets made, or not made can potentially shift the unfolding of design toward value-rich, IoT connected garments.