Imagine that you enter a room full of strangers. As you walk around you know who you have the most in common with by looking at the signs on the garments they are wearing and the conversation can begin. Spend quality time together and let’s bond.

There are many devices and apps that aim to bring us closer together, but in practise we spend more time with our screens than with people. Zsófia Lévai’s fashion-tech collection gets people off screen but gives them the same experience they’ve learned from being online. The Power of Proximity uses technology to bring us together like Tinder integrated into fashion but face to face in real time.

The next generations are digital nomads. They’re in constant motion, living in different countries for a few months or a few years. They would rather collect experiences than belongings. They would rather share their bikes, their cars, and their homes. Because of this lifestyle they need to integrate into new communities from time to time and find new friends.

How can we address each other? What kind of communication channels, signals and gestures do we need to find each other? Recent psychological studies, as outlined in The Village Effect, tell us that physical and social integration into your community is a key element in staying healthy and having a longer life. The power of proximity. Being close to people. Finding commonalities is an essential pathway to inclusion in your community.

Where you like to spend your time is another essential part of who you are. It is an emotional decision and reflects your interests. Finding these important places was Zsofi Lévai’s main focus. In this collection she used Instagram data to determine the users favourite spots and then use an algorithm to match-make the users. In this way we can use technology to develop our offline relationships.

The garments store pre-processed data taken from social media. Once they’re connected to the same mesh network, they exchange this data and an algorithm determines the commonalities between the users. Infrared signalling can tell if the wearers are facing each other and an array of LEDs then displays the level of commonality. The level changes as the users spend time together. The garments are knitted from merino wool and cashmere and designed so the electronics are seamlessly embedded to create a soft interface around the body.

There are two innovations at work within Power of Proximity collection. The first is developing a way to merge the electronics into the structure of the material so that the clothes are truly wearable and comfortable. The garments are made from a mix of quality materials. Natural sustainable fibres that have been used for thousands of years like wool and cashmere. The second innovation is the search for a new form of meta communication. Enhancing the way we communicate with each other throughout the continent, whatever the language. These garments become a new tool for meta communication.

This work has been supported by Telekom Fashion Fusion and by Zoltán Istenes at Informatics Department at Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem (ELTE).

Krisztina Gáspár and János Haszon hip-hop dancers have choreographed a dance piece to interpret the possibilities of the collection called ‘BONDING’.

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