Bras can be pretty uncomfortable items of apparel – or so I'm reliably informed. And while bras worn for show in the bedroom often have plenty of ventilation, those worn on the sporting field for support often don't. To show off the potential for its Curie module, Intel teamed up with architectural sportswear designer Chromat to produce two "responsive garments" – a bra and a dress – which change shape is response to the wearer's body temperature, adrenaline or stress levels.
Intel's Curie is a button-sized module that packs a low-power, 32-bit Intel Quark microcontroller, six-axis motion sensor with accelerometer and gyroscope, integrated digital signal processing (DSP) sensor hub and pattern matching technology, Bluetooth Low Energy and 384 kB of flash memory and 80 kB of RAM. Intended for embedding in wearable devices aimed at a range of applications, such as health and wellbeing, social networking and fitness, the module is power efficient and supported by a software platform developed specifically for the unit.
The module isn't due to ship to select OEMs and ODMs until later in the year, but a number of companies have been sampling the device. Among them is New York-based Chromat, which showed two garments powered by the Intel Curie module at its Spring/Summer 2016 runway show at MADE Fashion Week.
The Chromat Adrenaline Dress is a black number made of neoprene stretched over 3D-printed panels with a carbon fiber framework attached to the back. In the same way that some birds will puff their plumage when threatened to make themselves look bigger, the carbon fiber framework activated by a shape memory alloy will expand into a stylized hourglass shape when it detects an adrenaline rush – which in this case is indicated by an increase in sweating and breathing rate.
Potentially of more practical use is the Chromat Aeros Sports Bra, which consists of Lycra, mesh, neoprene and 3D-printed frames. Like the dress, it also integrates shape memory alloy, but uses it to open vents in the bra to provide a cooling air flow when it detects changes in the wearer's perspiration, breathing and body temperature. It will also shut off the vents when things cool down.
If that sounds like a good idea to you, unfortunately neither the bra or dress is available to buy – at least not until the Intel Curie module receives the required authorization from the FCC.
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