Wearable technology, fashion, and robotics are colliding, and people are beginning to explore the potential of combining all these exciting aspects into breathtaking products, and this is one of the most eye-catching. It’s the Metcalf Clione, a piece of smartphone-controlled wearable technology that’s part attention-grabbing art project, and part crazy fashion statement.
It’s the product of Japanese mechanical engineer and “robotics fashion creator” Kyun_kun, and the result of her fascination with the concept of wearing robots, or mecha-inspired fashion. Like a pair of metallic wings, Metcalf Clione is worn as a backpack and weighs about 1.5kg, or about the same as a backpack with a laptop inside.
Made of aluminum and plastic, the wings are covered in intricately designed panels, and have been programmed to move in a humanoid way. In the promotional video, a near-future world is envisaged where hardware like the Metcalf Clione is an everyday wearable, the effect is strangely calming, almost ethereal. Initially, the video shows the first Metcalf design, before introducing the new Clione model.
If you’re wondering what it actually does, the answer is nothing. The wires and circuits are left exposed on purpose, to enhance the robotic look, while the whirring server sounds haven’t been dampened for the same reason. It’s all for show and therefore a true fashion statement — there’s no alternative purpose. It’s built around the V-Sido Connect microcomputer system, and the smartphone app controls all the movements, along with the opening and closing of the wings.
It’s not Kyun_kun’s first design. Last year, she displayed the original, chunkier Metcalf robotic wearable around the world at various shows, including SXSW. This year, the Metcalf Clione will be at the Bains Numeriques, a media-art show in France during the summer. It was also used on stage by Japanese pop group AKB48 at a concert in March, where the wing movements were coordinated with the music.
While the Metcalf Clione won’t challenge the Apple Watch for wearable tech supermacy, how do you feel about mixing fashion with robotics? If you could buy the Letcalf Clione now, would you wear it?