My final project has taken many forms and shapes over the course of the month. I think I was just super eager to tackle four of the ideas I’ve been sitting on for a year that I had trouble committing to them which caused a couple bumps in the road.
I wanted to use Cyrus Kabiru as inspiration for the aesthetic of some kinetic body wear. This took the form of mountable shoulder sculptures that moved with servo motors.
At the play test I brought a small physical proof of concept and an idea around a pair of these that would communicate with one another depending on their distance apart.
I user tested and received a lot of great feedback. The most common feedback was that people would rather be the operators of the movement and use it as an outward method of self expression. I have mild regret in following this advice as I think I would have been happier with the final product if I had stuck with my original idea.
Anyways, I began trying to strike a balance between a system that would operate on its own but could also, momentarily be controlled by the user/wearer. This process was a little more difficult than I expected.
I gave my moving prototypes to friends to wear and tried to observe the bodily positions that they took on when they wore them for long periods of time. I also asked them a series of questions as to what they liked about the experience and what they felt they needed to do or who they felt like they could be when they wore it. I spent a lot of time observing their body movements.
Once I had come up with a system that felt right, I started to create little modules that could be mounted to the jacket. This part took a long time because mounting rigid things to soft materials is much more challenging than I remember. Perhaps it was the specific fabric of the jacket but it pulled often and acted one way on the Judy and a totally different way on the body. I had a lot of fun figuring out a few homemade strategies to make the process a little simpler. I started sewing with fishing line instead of thread which made it easier to see and easier to see and had no fibres that would catch on the jacket’s material. I also made a bunch of flexible plastic board inserts that I would put between layers or sandwich between electronic components that would add extra support and malleable rigidity.
The final piece had several components:
- servo powered triangles that breathed like gills. Their natural pattern could be interrupted by a force sensor sewn into the pocket
- small low, triangular pyramids were sewn like barnacles onto the front of the jacket. Beneath each is a superbright LED connected to a pulse input sensor that is sewn inside the other pocket.
- a set of three tubes are mounted to the back, each one with a super bright led beneath it. These tubes are connected to a flex sensor that changes its resistance based on the bend in the back of the neck.