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Seeing the unseen—in color

August 21st, 2015 / By: / Out There

The-Unseen jacketCo-founder of The Unseen, Lauren Bowker, identifies herself as an alchemist and leads the London-based design studio with a blend of material science and “magick.” The studio recently developed a sculptural jacket that is capable of detecting and reacting to brain activity, the company says, then changing its color based on how the wearer is feeling at any given time.

Called Eighth Sense, the jacket is made from a flexible ceramic material, which the company’s website claims can show a person’s “aura” emitted from humans as electromagnetic energy—wavelengths through certain lenses that can be seen as color. The company is investigating this by using a physical garment that reads human magnetism paired with the capture of EEG data. The jacket, resembling a cobra’s hood, has been infused with color-changing ink and uses electrical conductivity to change colors. It also has an EEG headpiece that communicates wirelessly with an app developed by augmented reality firm Holition that takes the EEG data collected and transmits it to the jacket, causing it to change color in response.

Bowker, who is in charge of its formulas and materials, had previously worked as a textiles consultant before deciding to join forces with two friends to launch their own venture centered around the use of their unique color-changing compounds.

Bowker has a debilitating spinal condition that prompted her interest in creating a product that could help her monitor her own condition. She worked with the U.K.’s National Health Service in the past, but became frustrated with the slow progress and poor funding and wanted to find a better way on her own.

Bowker graduated from the Manchester School of Art with the award winning carbon emission sensing ink PdCl2 and went on to study printed textiles at the Royal College of Art London where she developed further multi-sensory color-change inks.