Local design engineer reveals robotic dress at fashion show

Wearable technology is about to get more wearable if some determined designers have their say.

When design engineer Bruce Bateman makes a fashion statement, elegant may not be the first word that comes to mind. "I'm the wearable guy, actually I carry about seven or eight wearable devices, that's what I'm known for," Bateman said.

So how did a Silicon Valley engineer get involved with a fashion show, which is something all about style, glamour, and yes sex. "There's a lot going on under my skirt, let me tell you. So there are six servo motors. There's actually a computer chip brain," 360 Fashion Network CEO Anina Net said.

Net is wearing a dress that could set off a metal detector. "In the future, we'll be adding sensors into it," Bateman said.

Even Marilyn Monroe would be jealous of the skirt that goes poof on command.

A smart fabric measures her heart fluttering in place of all those clunky wrist bands. "You could even transform into a ball gown," Net said.

Shown off on the runway in Beijing and in a film back in the Bay Area, the robotic dress is meant to prove a point. "Our goal was to show the world that, yes tech can be fashionable," Bateman said.

But beyond the fashion industry helping give tech a makeover, there's another side to this. There are those who believe technology could help solve one of fashion's biggest problems. "The number one problem in the fashion industry that no one talks about is overproduction," Net said.

Net sees a world where clothing is smarter and more versatile. "If one piece of clothing does more, then you need less pieces of clothing," she said.

A dress that goes from office to ball room is just the beginning. There could be outfits that charge your phone when it's sunny or keep you dry when it rains. And even "a robotic coat which would snap its hood up," Net said.

The venture is called 360 Fashion Network, a merging of China's clothing business with Silicon Valley's innovation. And Silicon Valley is likely the venue for their next show.

Of course, you won't see Bateman on the catwalk unless his outfit can help with the signs of stage fright. "I'm sweating now. And my shirt should probably help me out before I get embarrassed," he said.
Copyright © 2019 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.