DEC 5th 2012 (Recap): High Tech x High Fashion (SV’s New Collection!)

“Fashion requires imagination, creativity, and originality… and allows a person to express (or hide) their identity and individuality… In a world becoming more and more virtual, fashion provides the context… that directly interacts with people on a visual, textural and emotional level.” ~ Simon Travers-Spencer (Designer)
On Wed, Dec 5th, we explored the intersection of these two seemingly disparate worlds – fashion and technology.
Our first speaker was John Rocha, CEO of MyFit, a company committed to creating a virtual fitting room experience for online shoppers.
As only 10% of clothing is currently being  purchased online (the lowest percentage in any category except for food), we can see how there is a pretty big opportunity there.  Without the restrictions posed by perishable products such as food, it would seem that clothing would be easier to buy online (no time and condition restraints on shipping).  However, John finds that the inability to try on clothing and to feel its texture still poses very large barriers.
The way that MyFit plans to attack the problem is by creating virtual replicas of potential buyers: avatars. A visitor to the website will scan him or herself with a camera from the Microsoft Kinect gaming system, which will then give an accurate online model of their body. At this point, the visitor is technically prepared to virtually try on clothes. They select a garment and it goes on their virtual body; Even things like tightness can be indicated with color gradients. As mentioned earlier, however, you still can’t feel the article on yourself; Nor can you really look at yourself in the mirror (another important factor for clothing shoppers).  To further complicate matters, John educated us on the idea of the “uncanny valley” – the region of similarity to humans in robots where humans are disgusted by the robots because their quasi-humanness is too close to reality.
In spite of the formidable challenges still faced in selling clothing online, MyFit represents a big step forward in online clothing sales. As Rocha pointed out, even modern clothing websites are generally surprisingly similar to old-fashioned clothing catalogs; You get the information and a picture of a model wearing the garment. One of the more successful online clothing retailers today is Zappos, but even Zappos’s free returns policy is not entirely new (think expensive items on clothing catalogs back in the day). With such a seeming dearth of innovation, MyFit seems poised to make a big move in the clothing space.
Our second speaker approaches the intersection of fashion and technology from the other side. To wit, if MyFit brings technology into fashion, Bespoke innovations and its founder, Scott Summit, brings fashion into technology.
Bespoke makes custom prosthetic limbs. Prosthetic limbs are nothing new, but they’ve always been somewhat neglected from the aesthetics point of view. Considering that for people who need them, they are so incredibly helpful, the idea to make them useful AND beautiful may have gotten lost in the shuffle. Or perhaps, it is the fact that the people with the expertise in making prosthetic limbs generally don’t have training in art or visual design. Whatever the case, it has been a neglected field.
Scott Summit had first gotten into the field when he started to experiment with three-dimensional printing and realized that the advent of 3D printing had made the process of making prosthetic limbs much easier than before. While the current process is to scan the a patient’s good leg (similar to what MyFit does), use a computer to mirror it, and then print it out with 3D printing, the next step is to make the new leg beautiful. Therefore, Summit set up a company that would make custom prosthetic legs; He would consult with a patient to turn the prosthetic into a great vehicle of self-expression for his customers, complete with matching lace, tatoos, and transformer/bionic qualities – each uniquely crafted to align with the individual’s unique personality and taste.
After these two delightfully contrasting talks, we had time to meditate on the new connections while we watched a fashion-and-technology-inspired dance piece by Roland van der Veen and Jessie Chen.
Transitioning from an innocent waltz (involving a laptop!) to a punk-sass hip hop (danced to Justin Timberlake’s “Sexy Back”), and concluding with a graceful and climactic rumba, the dance was a graphic portrayal of the magic that happens when two unfamiliar things like fashion and technology collide.
A lively and eye-opening (from both sides of the stage) Q&A panel moderated by Christos Chrestatos (CEO of Thoughtpusher, NYC-based creative shop for short-format films) concluded the evening; A perfect wrap for the evening.. and for 2012!
Don’t forget to join us for our first rendezvous of the new year, the SVII Innovation 2013 New Year’s Party coming up on Wed, 1/16/13, replete with a special report by Howard Lieberman himself, a special guest, refreshments, live music, and more!

JULY 18th 2012 (Recap): Innovator’s Showcase (Happy Birthday in Style!)

Thank you to all who participated and attended our 7th Year Anniversary Celebration!


Here is a little recap of the evening by our own Adam Kauk:


It was a pot-luck of talent from around the SVII community; We had a schedule of presentations and performances that were so varied, it looked like a microcosm of SVII’s history. (The delightful setting and delicious food were provided by Angelica’s Bistro in Redwood City, and the soup within that bowl was provided by the SVII community…)


We started with creative and engaging melodies from Neubop, the duo of Howard Lieberman (founder of SVII) and David Solhaug.
Then there was a tantalizing presentation on dark matter by Thomas Buckholtz.




This was followed by three different presentations of visual art. First, Elzbieta Holsztynska talked about how her own art teaches her different things about science..



Then, Jason Marsh played a video taken by an iPhone on a bunch of helium balloons (and dazzled us with some out-of-this-world violin looping)..



Finally, Geri McGilvray did an animated live portrait painting demo… 



…with Jessie Chen as the model.



The final third of the night came around with Adam Kauk transferring a guitar song onto the piano (Signe, by Eric Clapton).



Next, Birgitte Rasine transported us to a hot day in Rome with a reading from her own book.



Finally, the evening ended with a bang as Andy Markham and the Polyglot Quartet played their unique blend of various genres and took us to the finish line.


A good time was had by all–especially me (Adam).

Join us next time (After the summer fiesta, we will be back to our first Wed of the month schedule!) on Wednesday, September 5th, 2012!  We will be discussing how to engage your clients and audience through emotional relevancy in media (graphics, photos, and film).


Mark you calendars!

Virtual Worlds, Real Collaboration

Robin Harper, Consultant and Linden Lab veteran
Robert Ketner, The Tech Museum of Innovation

Online virtual worlds have enabled countless users to meet, train, learn, play, socialize, create and collaborate on complex tasks without regard to geography. The level of interaction provided by virtual worlds is proven to be deeper, and with more impact, than other online experiences. Some would say they have become indispensable elements to their core businesses.

Recently, the benefits and promise of multi-user, real-time environments have become better documented, and scores of variations on the basic product theme serve the diverse needs of users in all sectors. Still, many virtual world proponents say that the full impact of virtual worlds’ possibilities is yet to be seen on a vast scale. They maintain that the potential of virtual worlds extends far beyond what we experience today, and that the model is transforming not only online interactions, but the economy and our notions of community as well.

Tonight, two of virtual worlds’ strongest advocates will engage a discussion on the latest trends and successes in the medium. Bring your own input and experiences about how the real is becoming virtual, and the virtual is becoming real on many levels. Learn about the state of the art, and get an advance view of the state of the future as well, in this interactive session.

Bob Ketner is Virtual Community Manager for The Tech Virtual, a 2 year old project by The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose which is using virtual worlds to design, test, and prototype museum exhibits. Bob’s background encompasses product design, ecommerce, social media, and loyalty programs. In 2006 he founded the SDForum Virtual World SIG, and is the author (via an avatar) of the Metaverse Manifesto.

Robin Harper is partner and consultant at First 30 Services, a firm specializing in beginnings — creating new businesses and driving transitions in existing businesses. Previously Robin was VP of Marketing and Community Development at Linden Lab, where she led the emergence of the Second Life brand and supported this life-changing technology. Earlier, Robin was the VP of Marketing at Maxis, a division of Electronic Arts where she established SimCity as one of the most recognized brand names in entertainment software. She was named one of the Marketing 100 by Advertising Age/Newsweek .