"We see a lot of exciting [wearable technology] projects, a lot of design prototyping going on," says van Dongen, who was speaking at the Wearable Futures conference held in December at Ravensbourne. "It's really amazing how quickly things are evolving."
Despite this, van Dongen says that unless the resulting products are comfortable and visually appealing fashion pieces in their own right, they won't take off.
"It's very important to stress the wearability," she says. "I think it's the only way to connect to the market, to connect to people and to transcend the realm of gadgets."
Van Dongen launched her womenswear label, which specialises in combining fashion and technology, in 2010. Her Wearable Solar range consists of a dress that incorporates 72 flexible solar panels as well as a coat that has 48 rigid crystalline solar cells.
"Both prototypes have a modular element where you can reveal the solar panels when the sun shines but you can also hide them and wear them close to your body,"she explains. "When you wear them in full sun for one hour they can generate enough energy to charge your typical smartphone 50 percent."
Van Dongen is aware that there will be significant production challenges to overcome before products like hers become commercially viable.
"It's important to think how all these new designs can be integrated into the production chain," she says. "An important next step to take wearable technology to another level is to look at the commercialisation of it."
This is the fourth movie from the two-day Wearable Futures conference that explored how smart materials and new technologies are helping to make wearable technology one of the most talked-about topics in the fields of design and technology.