Sticky, Stiff and Itchy generate power


Continuing on the topic of alternative power harnessing, the latest exploration from Joanna Berzowska and the folks at Extra-Soft Labs is a series of power-generating garments titled Captain Electric. Sticky, Stiff and Itchy harness energy both passively and actively through the activity of fidgeting, fussing, stretching and pulling at our clothes.

"Using inductive generators, we convert kinetic energy from the human body into electric energy and store it within a power cell integrated into the garments. Rather than attempting to conceal the generators and their operation, we chose to overtly integrate them into the garment concept and design." (

Here's how Captain Electric describes each of the garments:

Sticky Sticky is a hooded leather dress that impedes natural body movement. The sleeves of the dress are tethered to hard shells on the chest and hips. This restriction forces the body to move in more pronounced and powerful motions, actively generating energy to fuel the dress. The accumulated power feeds a series of LEDs integrated in silicone forms sewn into the pocket, concealed from view.

Stiff Reminiscent of the posture caused by muscular stiffness, the silhouette of Stiff draws emphasis to the back and shoulders of the individual. As she pushes her back against the wall or experiences pressure on her back from another user, the energy generated activates an mp3 player and speaker integrated into the hood, which plays soothing and comforting (though often conflicting) messages.

Itchy Itchy’s tailored leather silhouette is decorated with large reconfigurable wool necklaces. The face is surrounded with layered structure, drawing attention to its features while also offering a sense of comfort and protection from other peoples’ gaze. The layering of necklaces is evocative of bulky wool turtlenecks and their itchiness compels the user to grasp them and move them back and forth on the body.

Read more on Captain Electric. Images from Captain Electric.

A somewhat decent implementation of solar

One of the biggest challenges for personal computing devices, especially with wearable technology, is power. It's difficult to obtain and it's expensive and bulky to store. So, I'm always on the quest to find alternative sources of power.

One of the most readily available resources is the sun and there have been a variety of explorations into solar cells and panels. The problem with solar, although improving, is twofold: (1) the current can sometimes be abysmal to obtain along with the wattage, (2) most of the options for solar panels that are currently available and that generate enough power are large, bulky, and expensive. Not ideal for a soft and flexible moving garment.

With those limitations, some attempts have been made such as the eclipse solar bags. But they look as though someone slapped a large bulky solar panel on the side of a standard bag. Little attempt was made to truly integrate the technology into the product or garment. Even worse, are the solar bags from Treehugger. If you've ever carried one around, although technologically functional, they are heavy, bulky and seems to be void of any fashion consideration whatsoever.

One garment that has potential is the Zegna Ski Jacket that incorporates solar panels into the collar. What I like about this is the attempt to integrate it into the design of the garment and the implied gesture of "popping your collar" to expose the panels and activate them. However, I'm not sure that this is the right gesture for ski culture.

Overall, garments that sense and react should leverage the natural gestures implied by the garment, its culture, and its context so that they feel like second nature as you are wearing them as your second skin. Zegna does a good job encorporating a technology that is challenging and limiting into a functional fashion line.