Danica Kragic, a former catwalk model who is now a professor in robotics, says the idea that the fashion industry can be fully automated is not one that looks like will happen any time soon…
The most futuristic thing at this year’s London Fashion Week – robots! With California-based Honee’s recent partnership announcement with OhmniLabs robotics company for a model with nerves of actual steel, tech and fashion are becoming more intertwined than ever.
Having walked the catwalks at Stockholm Fashion Week, independent robotics expert at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and IEEE member Professor Danica Kragic believes that the technology and fashion industries are on an inevitable and exciting collision course.
As the face of Rodebjer’s ‘I Am’ campaign and often described as the world’s ‘first model-slash-robot researcher’, Professor Kragic knows there are still some wrinkles to iron out before the future fashiontech rises, including better anthropomorphic design and dexterity in robots.
“Robots are being developed to automate manual work and we also can see this application in sewing and the wider fashion industry. There are still many challenges to overcome, as manipulating garments is still a difficult problem.
“Humans use their whole body in the design and sewing process, so both hands and arms are relevant for each garment. It will be interesting to see the development of robotics technologies for this sector and to what extent one will need artificial solutions that mimic the human body in order to achieve the same type of effectivity and flexibility.
“A big challenge to overcome is sensing, we use skin for interaction and most of the robots today have quite limited tactile and haptic sensing.”
Danica has always dreamed of a designing a robot that can sew silk but she also believes that other technologies will come into the fashion mix, including virtual reality and augmented reality (VR/AR):
“One of the biggest transformations we will see in the industry is the use of VR and AR in the design process. Designers can meet in virtual setups/rooms and codesign pieces, while being miles away from each other. This of course has tremendous benefits for the environment.
“VR and AR can also be used for increasing the customer experience. Using AR technology, designers and retailers can show how clothes fit your own body in a virtual dressing room, rather than using mirrors like in shops now. This virtual system could also compare how a certain piece fits somebody else and compare directly to the customer.”