Wired to Wear

Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) is exploring how new and emerging technologies are incorporated into wearables to make us stronger, smarter, and healthier.

The museum’s new exhibit—Wired to Wear—is an 8,000 sq. ft. showcase of wearable items from brands, designers, engineers and artists from 15 countries—featuring some of the world’s most innovative technologies. Items on display include the Gravity Industries’ flying Jet Suit, a Smart Tattoo from Google that plays music when you touch it, a prosthetic arm cannon designed by 13-year old Jordan Reeves (that is decorated like a unicorn and shoots glitter), and Nike’s self-lacing shoes, including the original pair featured in the movie, Back to the Future Part II.

Chicago Scenic fabricated the display platforms, surrounding scenic elements, and customized mannequins to display Wired to Wear’s many futuristic elements. Each platform needed to be modular—so as new exhibit pieces are introduced, the mannequins can be easily switched out and arranged with ease. This also meant that the platforms needed to be light, but sturdy enough to support a large amount of weight.

Chicago Scenic worked closely with MSI to ensure all of the needs of the display platforms were met. This included hidden cable and electrical pathways that run through the platforms and even some of the mannequins themselves.

“While several of the wearable tech pieces run on battery/solar power, it’s not practical to change out batteries every day,” according to Stefan Koniarz, Chicago Scenic’s project manager. “All of the devices were converted from battery to standard power, which eliminated any concern about a display not working because the batteries failed,” he added.

Wired to Wear also features an exhibit called the Jacquard™ Box by Google. Visitors can step up to the Jacquard™ Box and use touch motions to move fabric and turn lights on and off through conductivity in the fabric. According to MSI, though still in development, the Jacquard™ Box is a technology platform designed to enable any personal clothing item or accessory to have interactivity and connectivity.

As an added experience within the exhibit, MSI created a maker space called Makers United where guests will assemble their own wearable products. In Makers United, guests get hands-on with circuit building and fabricated materials to make glowing circuit bands and predict the future of fashion with their own designs.

Wired to Wear is sponsored by BMO and will be at MSI through May 2020. Makers United is sponsored by ArcelorMittal and will run through January 5, 2020.

CLIENT: Museum of Science and Industry (design & graphics), TEAM: Chicago Scenic (fabrication, installation, & project management), Lightswitch (lighting designer), ILC (lighting instrumentation), LI (environmental lighting)

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