For a Human-Centered AI

Fashion & technology together against violence on women

January 14, 2017

At the presence of Council Member. Sara Ferrari (PaT), the FBK Povo premises turned into a catwalk. The models were the students of Centro Moda Canossa. The garments worn, equipped with multi-purpose sensors, are the result of an experiment which sees research and school work side by side. The objectives: create new opportunities for young people and fight violence against women.

“Fashion is a careful observer of social and cultural transformations, it takes an attitudine of continuous search, exploration of new frontiers of aesthetics and materials, discoveries of possible new combinations. Like science, also fashion looks to the future. Dealing with fashion involves more and more often looking at highly functional fabrics and many technological and digital solutions that inhabit our daily lives. Attire is called today to be an important instrument in many work and life situations, as is the case of the awese project. ” (Claudia Mammani, Director of the fashion center CENTRO MODA Canossa – Trento)

Starting from this parallel between research and the evolutionary trend in making fashion today, Fondazione Bruno Kessler and Centro Moda Canossa have initiated a school-work program that makes the collaboration agreement signed between the two organizations on June 24, 2016 operational.

The target of the of the agreement is a collaboration that will allow young students to join the FBKJUNIOR “Research as a profession/Technology in professions” program activities.

Each training and orientation activity is co-designed and jointly tested by a tutor (a teacher), designated by the Institute and by a scientific coordinator identified by FBK.

These activities include: encounters with research; curricular internships both individual and in groups, and annual or multi-year joint projects.

The “awese project to wearable security” has opened this program and showed all the players. The presentation meeting involved and gathered input from local authorities, who have witnessed great interest in the initiative.

After the welcome address by Andrea Simoni, FBK’s Secretary General, Claudia Mammani and Micaela Vettori, the coordinators for the FBK-Junior program, presented the project with an emphasis on the exploitation of its results, and in particular on the interest that its products arouse, as recently demonstrated in Rome at the last edition of MAKER FAIRE. Indication that reveals a potential market to be looked into and explored.

The students wore clothes equipped with sensors that can be activated with ease by the victims of aggression, sensors capable of setting off a 130 db alarm that can cause disorientation in the attacker.

Sara Ferrari (PaT Councillor for university and research, youth policies, equal opportunities, development cooperation) stressed the interdisciplinary nature of the training proposal and addressing the girls present invited them to remain vigilant in the face of physical or verbal violence, urging a change of mindset so that the phenomenon of violence, too often tolerated or hidden, is further unveiled.

Deputy Police Commissioner of Trento Anna Maria Maggio echoed the Councillor’s words and formulated the question at the center of reflection: are there rules to live in contexts and relationships respectful of my safety and of my person?

Lieutenant Colonel of the Carabinieri of Trento, Giovanni Cuccurullo, probed another aspect: the number of reported cases is  a tenth compared with the total of the estimates, the “tip of the iceberg”.

With awese, school and FBK research test themselves on the ground of a real need as that of the safety of women, and build together a solution which, without affecting the aesthetics, produces immediate benefits and also carries out a strong educational action.

The technical aspects, i.e. the functionality of the sensor installed in the clothing and the design of the research activities, were presented by FBK researchers Amos Collini and Mario Zen, with the Center for Materials and Microsystems.

The school’s standpoint was heard as well, with the approval of Dr. Laura Pedron (PaT Department of knowledge).

Finally, there was a “parade with surprise”: an FBK researcher acted as an aggressor and the girl under attack promptly pushed him away by setting off the alarm.

The spotlights are not being turned off: we will follow the developments in the near future!

The author/s