Wearable Technology: The MeU
Simon Buckley - Curiosity Crew | July 2, 2014
Technology is integrating itself into every aspect of our lives. Soon, the very clothes we wear will be both functional and fashionable. An example of this is Italy’s soccer team which has used jerseys which massage the players as they play to increase blood flow and energize their players. At the Toronto Waterfront festival we had the pleasure of meeting Robert Tu, the creative mind behind the MeU LED Platform. Robert showed up sporting a Super Mario themed mushroom pattern on his shirt which would cycle its colours giving off a shimmering effect.
Robert Tu at the Research Matters tent.
This of course was a design that he had programmed into the MeU platform which he was wearing under his shirt. The device is user friendly and can be programmed by anyone who is familiar with the Arduino microprocessor. The Arduino is a microprocessor which is used for basic input/output related functions and favored by hobbyists. The hardware design and the programming are all open source, meaning that they are available and free to use at his website. The plan is to encourage early adopters to create a variety of programs, such as the Mario mushroom, which can then be shared online.
Arduino microprocessor attached to a prototyping boards with LED array.
The MeU is currently being tested as an aid to cyclists. With the incorporation of voice recognition software, it will activate indicators on the wearer’s shoulders which will eliminate the need for hand signals. There are other programs being developed with this software, such as being connected with bus schedules and also portable advertisements.
Robert is a graduate from OCAD and has studied under researcher Kate Hartman. Kate is one of the researchers who contributes to the Research Matters website. The MeU is an example of the connection between university research and modern day technology. It also represents the unusual union between technology and the world of fashion.
Links: Website: www.themeu.net
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Noreen Fagan | December 18, 2014Here’s a fun fact – Canadians eat more sushi than the Japanese. At least that’s what Mark Cleveland says, and he should know. Cleveland is a professor of marketing at Western University. His research focuses on the integration of cultures on a global scale and the effects of cosmopolitanism, which according to Cleveland is, “the cultural openness and the ability to successfully navigate between different cultural groups.” In other words, people who want to understand and experience other cultures do so by fully immersing themselves in that culture. “You want to live the life of cultural authenticity, by trying to understand the culture through that culture’s eyes,” he says. Cleveland’s interest in cultural openness started when he was a Master’s and then a Ph.D. student at Concordia University in Montreal. He started researching how new immigrants, primarily ethic minorities, adapted to Canadian culture by finding ways to combine their traditional identities, culture and values into mainstream society. “I have always believed that just because you learn another culture does not mean you give up the original culture. You can be bicultural or multicultural and the two can reinforce each other,” says Cleveland. “Not only are minorities affected by cultural exchange but the majority are as well.” Canada’s multiculturalism prompted Cleveland to extend his research into globalization, with a focus on how global cultures affect majority populations around the world. In the last decade Cleveland has conducted research in 15 to 20 countries exploring cultural exchange and cosmopolitanism. He says a person no longer has to travel abroad – although it helps – to become cosmopolitan. A person can experience different cultures in the comfort of their own home or neighbourhood, simply by watching TV, surfing the Internet, playing videos on You Tube or buying and consuming different products. “When we buy products, and types of brands and the reasons for buying them, they are like extensions of ourselves,” he says. So how do the sushi–eating Canadians fit into all of this? Cleveland believes if a person wants to experience cultural authenticity they will gear their shopping towards achieving that aim. In other words, a person is not going to go for the North American version of sushi (think Californian Roll), when they can get the real thing – think Unagi. He says there is probably a general global trend towards cultural openness as people become more educated and have more exposure to other cultures but he warns, there is another side. “A lot of people are really opposed to what is happening with Globalization and they see their culture as under threat,” says Cleveland adding that the threat is heightened when people feel insecure. If people are feeling secure in their surroundings (financially, emotionally and physically), the more open they are to cultural exchange and the more cosmopolitan they become. Being cosmopolitan however, does not mean buying local is a thing of the past; in fact what makes cosmopolitans stand out is that they strive for cultural authenticity. “The more cosmopolitan you are means you are not only interested in preserving differences but also interested in the environment, like getting the best locally,” says Cleveland. In terms of cosmopolitanism Cleveland thinks Canadians are more accepting of other cultures. “We are a new country, most of us go back two or three generations and have one or two grandparents born somewhere else. We have a more fluid identity,” he says, adding that as large cities go, Toronto is well integrated. “We are not just living in these areas dominated by our own ethic group, there are more opportunities to mix, and I think that allows us to become more open-minded.”