Defensive Dress Progress

A little update on what we have been doing.

The first test of thermochromic textiles. We tried to test different materials as the heating element. These small patches were woven by hand with various metallic threads and silk thread dyed with the thermochromic ink.

Here is the actual thread we are going to use:

The picture below shows us measuring the length and type of resistance wire we can use. We had two types of wire: 0.3 mm and 0.4 mm. It seems that we need about 300 mA of current to heat the wire to a point where it reacts with the threads dyed with thermochromic ink.

The lengths of wire we can use with a 9V battery:

  • ~ 4 meters of the 0.3 mm wire
  • ~ 5 meters of the 0.4 mm wire

A 9V battery is not really the ideal option since it would drain out really fast when we use 300 mA., but we also need the higher voltage. I think we need to use a bigger LiPo or NiMH battery (7.4V or 11.1V).

Emmi working on the shape of the dress.

Chips and Salsa



Some progress with the electrodes has been done! From left to right: base unit, electrode, ground electrode. Ali from Media Factory soldered the tiny SMD’s to the board (like a boss). We still need to attach the resistors and capacitors and some copper before we can test it out.

The PCB’s were designed in Eagle CAD according to [1].

[1] Y M Chi, P Ng, E Kang, J Kang, J Fang and G Cauwenberghs. Wireless Non-contact Cardiac and Neural Monitoring. Wireless Health 2010.

social feedback garment

Today I talked with Heidi about the possibilities of getting fur to move or “stand on end”.  We thought it would be great to use the inherent properties of some fibres in combination with static electricity.  The thing about static electricity is that it is high voltage, so we have to be careful when combining it with wearables!

It would be great if we could achieve it in a more natural way.  Here is a webpage with a list of materials and their natural tendency to become positively or negatively charged:

Another possibility for research is electro-magnetic fields (EMF).  Are there materials that would respond to this, apart from iron powder?

(beautiful execution, requires lots of energy)

Puolustuspuku – Defensive Dress

We (Emmi, Matti & Markus) are planning on creating a dress that changes shape and color when the wearer feels threatened. Normally, the dress would appear as any other black dress, but by squeezing the sleeves the dress goes into a defensive mode, where a protective/threatening fin-like collar rises up that also changes its color from black to red.



We were inspired by animals that change shape or color to intimidate predators, such as the frill-necked lizard:

And this octopus:


The movement of the dress is going to be done with shape memory wire (flexinol/nitinol/muscle wire). It is a material that “remembers” its original shape. The wire returns to this shape (or contracts) when heated.

We still have to do a lot of testing with this once we get the wire. We are not quite sure how much movement we can actually achieve with this technology.

A small example from xslabs:

The change in color is achieved with thermochromic inks that change color when heated. We are planning on weaving a material that combines threads dyed with thermochromic pigments and resistance wire for heating it.

A video of our initial testing with threads dyed with thermochromic ink.:

Materials/Shopping List (not final):

Ajatusmyssy – Thinking cap

Our plan is to make a hat that reads the wearers brain waves on a couple of electrodes and interpolates the signal to project the brain activity on LEDs on the hat. We would also like to add wireless communication and GPS to be able to publish our brain activity online and locate different thoughts to different parts of the city.

We will make our own capacitive EEG electrodes that don’t require direct skin contact, and will thus work through hair and fabric. The electrode is based on a circuit designed by researchers at UCSD.

The EEG data can be analyzed with FFT to recognize the spectral components. Choosing the alpha band (8-13Hz) and calculating its total power is a good indicator of brain activity, the total activity seems to be inversely related to alpha activity.

The hat will be covered with RGB LEDs and light fibre. We will use 4 electrodes, but by averaging we can make a “scalp map” with more LEDs. This is inspired by scalp maps used in brain research.

Soft Step Sequencer

I thought I’d post this as it is an idea I’ve been interested in for a while but not had a chance to work with. Idea is to make a simple step sequencer which is part of a sweater  – the pads could be actually knitted. It is a personal music machine that you wear and walk around with. I don’t know if this is easy to do, but could be fun to have a few of them and have a walking band that can walk around town…

haptic motion communication

My animation project in Media Lab involves a couple that dances together from opposite sides of the globe via robotic surrogates. Social dancers communicate lead and follow through momentum of the torso. Argentine tango’s lead and follow can be very subtle; a slight motion of the lead’s torso can send the follow’s leg in a dramatic arc.

I would like to develop a concept that would transmit this communication through motion impulses generated in clothing, instead of an external robot. Such a system could be valuable in the context of emotional communication over distance beyond text/audio/video.

Draper Space Suit Draper, with MIT, is developing a space suit that uses flywheels to simulate gravity. I think that the electronic component of a dance system could be a simplified version of this.

ahne glove Matti Niinimäki in SOPI research group made a glove with haptic feedback. His findings could be the base of our system.

There are artistic as well as practical potentials for such a system. A group of dancers could be lead by one dancer (or remote control box, for “human puppetry”). Or each dancer could be transmitting lead to the next one, depending on how the communication channels are set up. This could create some interesting feedback loops of human motion.

One practical use could be a haptic navigation system that gives directions with physical nudges in the correct direction.