Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
Created by Ireland-based Design Partners, OBEX: Protective Surf Hood is a project to showcase the firm’s creative process, innovative approach, and wearable-technology design expertise. Even in activities like surfing, where people escape to nature, embedded technology can be a life-saving companion.
Through design, iteration, and prototyping of future experiences, Design Partners seek to elevate human potential.
Imagine a fireman who can see through the densest smoke, an athlete who can measure in realtime the recovery of a damaged ligament, or a surfer whose wet suit can save their life.
Wearable technology can enable incredible things if designed correctly but for people to adopt it, designers must focus on providing solutions where the needs are greatest: in areas such as first-responders, home healthcare, and performance sports.
The team at Design Partners created OBEX to solve that problem.
OBEX is a surf hood with integrated sensors that activate an inflatable bladder (heat-sealed nylon urethane).
This bladder is discreetly stored within the collar of the hood. Two canisters of C02 inflate the bladder.
These are stored in a pocket between the shoulder blades. Both canisters are also connected to a separate pull tab located in the collar for manual activation if necessary.
The impact sensors that sense an incident are sandwiched between the neoprene and thermal layers using flexible circuitry.
Seconds count when in difficulty at sea. Following a high impact collision, OBEX will inflate to keep the surfer safe, as well as alert fellow surfers both in the water through haptic notifications, and on land via the OBEX app.
Designing smart garments is extremely difficult.
Tech companies are too naïve when it comes to garment design, and the fashion industry struggles when it comes to hardware.
Although we think about electronics as rigid screens and hard components, there are now solutions emerging that enable flexibility and bending, allowing better integration with the world of textiles and soft materials.
Parallel advancements in fabric technology and manufacturers, such as digital knitting and conductive yarns, give way to exciting new applications for wearables that achieve invisible and unobtrusive integration.
Design Partners’ formula to successfully design smart clothing lies in the unification of the hard and soft-goods disciplines supported by advanced prototyping facilities; uniting a team of design, engineering, UX, apparel and fabric experts behind a clear vision.
Our clothes will soon contain sensors that will dramatically improve our lives.
Designers and entrepreneurs have the responsibility to conceive of truly purposeful applications of technology for people, and not simply embed novel technology into garments.
The traditional methods of industrial design or fashion design will no longer suffice.
A new, interdisciplinary team is necessary for this future.
Closer collaboration between design, engineering and apparel experts, will deliver smart garments that bring incredible experiences that augment our abilities and wellbeing.
Design Partners believe it is a designer’s responsibility is to equip people with new tools that
enhance their ability to perform in highly demanding environments—to use technology in a way
that elevates their potential.
The more intimate and integrated the technology becomes, the more these users can focus on the things in life that matter.
“We are pioneering in smart garment design by unifying experts from hard-and soft-goods that are supported by advanced prototyping facilities,” states Cormac Ó Conaire, Creative Director for Design Partners.
Designers: Design Partners