Together with a fashion student I made a garment that expresses your mood and exaggerates your body language.
Step 1: Research
The Google hit and Facebook page 'typing LOL with a straight face' made us realize communicating via screens will cause a lack of body language.
We investigated the research topic 'body language' and how we could make this 'forgotten' language interesting and fun again. Did you know a chameleon uses the colors of his skin not only for camouflage, but also to communicate? We didn't, but when we found out we were so inspired by this fact that we decided to base our project on it.
Amy Cuddy, who talks in her Ted Talk about how your body language shapes who you are, gave us the idea to work with the postures high power (when you are totally stretched out) and low power (when you want to take as little space as possible).
Step 2: Folding
We wanted to create a garment that expresses your body language and grows along with your mood. We decided to look for a folding technique that was really flexible. We liked the 3D pattern of the one on the first photo very much, but it lacked flexibility. The one on the second photo (front&back side) was really flexible, so we decided to use this one. On the last photo you can see how it looks like when the folding is moving.
Kade Chang explains this folding technique very well in three steps:
Step 3: Plotting
In order to produce a lot of foldings in a short time we translated the folding structure into a 2D pattern and used the plotter to engrave the folding lines into A2 paper sheets. This enabled us to fold the lines really quick. You could also use a laser cutter for this, but the good thing about the plotter is that it doesn't leave any burned edges on your paper.
We chose a firm but illuminating paper, because we wanted to add light to change the color of the garment.
Step 4: Modeling
We glued the folded A2 sheets together. The folding technique we used has the tendency to become balloon shaped. In order to avoid a big ball-shaped garment we decided to process a turn into the shape. By shaping the folded sheets around the body we created a shape that we liked. The sleeve is really important because it will fold in and stretch out when you bend or stretch out your arms.
Step 5: Neopixels
We wanted to create a garment that changes color when moving. We used 20 Neopixels to create a long string of lights. We had to solder all the plusses to the plusses, the minuses to the minuses and the output to the input of the next Neopixel. We used an adapter of 5V and 1 Ampère to solder to the Neopixels for enough power.
Step 6: Lighting
We decided that we wanted to change the color from blue when the arms were bent (low power) to red when the arms were stretched out (high power). In order to measure when the arms were stretched out or bent we used a Flex sensor. We soldered two longer threads to this sensor so we could put it into a textile bracelet you can wear around your elbow. The sensor will be placed in the inner elbow and will be bent if the arms are bent or stretched out when the arms are stretched out.
The code allowed us to create a fluent overflow of colors. It's a combination of a standard Neopixel code and a code that translates the values of the Flex sensor to RGB colors.
Step 7: The Result
Our project is selected for an exhibition about Digital Crafts at V2_ Rotterdam (Institute for the Unstable Media), you're invited to come and take a look!