Therapeutic Clothing that Hugs

Sensewear is the newest innovation in smart clothing that is making a social impact. 

Emanuela Corti and Ivan Parati created a collection of smart clothing to address a gap in the fashion-tech industry. Their designs aim to help those affected by sensory processing disorder (SPD). Individuals with SPD, especially those who are on the autism spectrum, have complications with processing everyday stimuli. Hypersensitivity, for example, is a common symptom. Individuals may have an enhanced sensitivity to sounds, smells, and touch. 

 If sensitivity to physical contact is heightened, imagine how the texture of clothing and its stitching and labels can become a source of pain during daily wear. 

Corti and Parati looked for several solutions to this issue including an alternative 3D knitting process and a method that could combine therapeutic objects and clothing. At the core of their collection is a smart t-shirt that collects data on heart rate, breath frequency, and movement. This indicates the wearer's stress level, which will trigger the functions of the other garments. One of these garments is "sensewear for emotional emergencies". It appears to be a scarf, but the individual can also wear it as a pull-over. Once the piece is worn as a pull-over, it uses deep touch pressure (DTP) therapy to mimic a hug. 

Their design has pioneered a new iteration of health technology that can reduce the symptoms of SPD. Health technology in smart clothing is often linked to fitness gear, such as yoga pants that provide haptic feedback to muscles to correct positions. However, this development is a compromise between style and scientific utility. The technology is inconspicuous and allows for a dose of physical therapy during daily activities. The duo hopes to expand their technology into interior design in order to tackle the much larger issue of how to improve the discomfort individuals with SPD feel from overstimulation. 

This post was written by Summer Lewis, first-year law student at Osgoode Hall, Toronto.