They monitor, shape and improve our lives: Exploring high-tech apparel with Professor Sabine Seymour.
The future is here: Connected apparel has come a long way from running gear with mp3-player plug-ins or basic Bluetooth connectivity. Tomorrow’s seamless, smart companions aid our everyday adventures. At the forefront of this new wave of technology: Professor Sabine Seymour, whose upcoming line of connected apparel promises to turn the way we interact with tech upside down. Her novel approach bypasses the current spectrum of smart watches, heart rate monitors and fitness trackers in favour of “disappearables” that become a natural part of our apparel and lives as seen in our video “Alter Ego”.
Improving performance – the subtle way.
And while the serial entrepreneur’s soft-tech SUPA apparel may look bright and bold, there’s nothing cartoony about the smart powers lurking underneath the surface: think fabric patches with sensors, conductive fibres and inks, or even printed circuits, subtly monitoring your body’s responses and environmental conditions – or tweaking settings in your gear.
A product of New York City.
We caught up with the phenomenally busy – and phenomenally likeable – entrepreneur in New York City, her natural hub and home. “You can do anything in New York – I really couldn’t have started SUPA.ai in any other city. In New York, everybody’s different! It’s very colourful and the perfect case study for such a tailored experience. On a single subway train, you see the cultures of the world.” And just like the dazzling diversity of New York City, SUPA’s claim, “a digital platform for clothing”, hides the sheer wealth, complexity and ambition of Seymour’s latest project. “Basically, it’s a highly personalised lifestyle AI connecting textile-based sensors with the Internet of Things to make it your perfect companion – from everyday life to peak performance.”
A life coach and concierge.
AI? Sounds ambitious – and just a little bit scary. How exactly does it work?
“SUPA is your personal concierge. Discreet and well-connected. Machine learning helps SUPA to get to know you. It’s your buddy and knows your preferences, like “I only run when it’s balmy outside.” It also learns about your goals – even if they change throughout the year, like getting fit for snowboarding in fall and surfing in spring. It gathers and interprets any information that’s relevant to your well-being. And thanks to the AI aspect, it is all seamless and organic.” The concept is not tied to the sports arena: imagine medicine, entertainment and everyday life – anywhere our bodies might take us. Assuming that our biometrics, a car seat for example, could know when we’re tired, while a base layer could automatically detect a health problem, or using our apparel as a game controller in an augmented world.
From everyday exercise to Mars.
So, to infinity and beyond? That’s certainly the planned direction: Seymour has already been approached by NASA to discuss the use of SUPA tech for long-term space travel. “We don’t actually have any data on people travelling in space for the years it would take to go to Mars. While NASA is aware of potential symptoms through data gathered by different sensors, logs or workout machines, all of this is very clunky and the proprietary systems don’t really work together. The same is true for consumers. Most of the time your gadgets system or car don’t interact – and that’s where we come in with our human-plus-AI concept.”
Ready for launch.
With friends in higher places like these, the future looks very bright for Seymour. And now that SUPA’s first product, a smart bra, is geared for imminent launch (in Spring 2017), you can sign up at SUPA.ai to be part of her vision of the future.