The conceptual and, in some specific cases, the visual similarity between traditional craft items, such as winter mittens or Muhu skirt, and QR codes were the starting inspiration for the first explorations. Together with the possibility of keeping technology physically separated from the textile, the dynamic layer of digital technology seemed to play a significant role in moving smart textiles towards more sustainable direction. QR code can reveal a lot of information very similarly to a folkloric garment, accessory or ornament. Both of them also need a key to access that level of information.
QR-coded embroidery groups together a set of prototypes involving Quick Response codes embroidered onto textiles in order to relate the static durable textile with dynamic changeable digital world. While traditional quality-aimed technique, such as embroidery is long lasting and pleasant to touch, the digital layer connected to it provides an opportunity for the textile product to act in a service system to stay updated and change content throughout time. The first QR-coded embroidery prototype is a textile telling the story of the material’s whole life cycle – The Story of a Textile. The second prototype is a pillow showing fairy-tales – QR-coded Traditions. And the third one is a daily item sharing built up knowledge of a specific community – Local Wisdoms.
The Story of a Textile
In The Story of a Textile, scanning the QR code with a smartphone provides the user with visual and written information on the material: where is the raw material coming from, where and how is it treated and spun into yarns, how it was woven or knitted into textile, dyed, printed, sewn etc. The smart phone application can furthermore show the material and social traces of the production, use and disposal. Allowing producers and users to grow and use a database of similar information makes the actual value of the textile more visible; showing the steps it has gone through as told by people who have been part of that journey.
The QR code embroidered on top of a textile can be scanned with any freely available QR scaning software. The application needs internet connection to open the resulting website in the smartphone browser. The website can be updated constantly, or can receive information straight from producers, suppliers, users via defined protocols.
QR-coded traditions is a set of pillows embedded with embroidered folkloric QR codes that when scanned start showing a video fairy-tale. The fairy-tale originates from the same region as the patterns and colours used as an inspiration in the embroidery design. The garment can become more valuable in time because of the opportunity to change the information referred by the QR code. The concept aims to connect traditions and history through several layers, while encouraging new ways of interaction. The textile is connected to the technology through the visual-meaning-location-story layers.
The QR code embroidered on top of a textile can be scanned with any freely available QR scaning software. The application needs internet connection to open the resulting website with the video in the smartphone browser. The website can be updated constantly, therefore it can show different fairytales in different times of the day, months of the year etc.
Local Wisdoms is a groceries bag or a home textile, embroidered with QR codes inspired by folkloric patterns. The QR codes link the user to sayings, proverbs, and poems by people from the specific region the design of the code is inspired from. The wisdoms of poets, writers, philosophers, elderly neighbours, etc. is to be gathered by the children from the community. Such a garment becomes a link to an always-growing database making it more and more valuable through time.
The QR code embroidered on top of a textile can be scanned with any freely available QR scaning software. The application needs internet connection to open the resulting website in the smartphone browser. The website can be updated constantly, therefore the collection of the collected wisdoms can keep on growing. The user can be surprised with a new text, photo, voice or video clip every time.