When wearing the Galvanic Extimacy Responder (GER) Mood Sweater, anyone can see how you're feeling. The sweater communicates one's mood via different colors of illumination that emanate from the collar. Developed by San Francisco-based design firm Sensoree, the garment analyzes the user's emotions and displays them instantly for public interpretation. Sensoree founder Kristin Neidlinger uses the term "extimacy" to describe the external display of intimate feelings. "Instead of intelligent technology, we create 'sensitive' or Sensoree technology that is intuitive, responsive and illuminates the senses," she said in a Mashable story. "I believe technology can make us more aware. With responsive clothing, you can animate your body and heighten communication with yourself."
Sensoree's GER represents another iteration of a burgeoning trajectory of emotion-communicating apparel, which includes Keio University Information Design Laboratory's Wearable Synthesis, an inner-wear module that changes color based on one's body temperature, heart rate, and other biorhythmic conditions; Concordia University's interactive fabrics, which transform in color and shape in response to a user's movement or various contextual phenomena; and Studio Roosegaarde's Intimacy dress, which becomes transparent when the wearer becomes excited.
The growing interest in "extimate" attire contradicts contemporary worries about the loss of personal privacy. Indeed, clothes that reveal our innermost emotions—giving more literal meaning to "wearing one's heart on one's sleeve"—undermine our ability to control our feelings in public. So is this a mere fad, or a lasting trend to increase public access to the human mind? And how might architecture respond—with façades that convey the emotions of building inhabitants, for example, or conference tables that change colors based on the collective mood of a meeting? Would such applications provide important benefits, or simply infringe on the last and most sacred domain of individual privacy?
Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a regularly featured columnist whose stories appear on this website each week. His views and conclusions are not necessarily those of ARCHITECT magazine nor of the American Institute of Architects.