Dec 23, 2014 | By Simon

When it comes to the intersection of fashion and technology, it seems natural to bring to mind how fashion is directing technology... such as Google Glass or other connected wearables. On the other hand, new technology such as various digital fabrication methods are helping to shape how fashion garments are fabricated and ultimately, designed.

Among others who are starting to use digital fabrication as a medium for creating their fashion designs is electronic wearable artist Anouk Wipprecht. The 'Fashiontech Designer' is just as familiar with microcontrollers and 3D printers as she is with dressmaking and is able to seamlessly blend the two into complicated and smart garments.

Among her creations is the recent Spider Dress 2.0, which is perfect for somebody who needs a little "space"'.

The mechatronic dress, which is inspired by arachnid features, features an Intel Edison chip that uses biosignals and learned threat detection to defend the wearer's personal space. Needless to say, this 'smart' dress resembles more of an alien exoskeleton than a traditional soft garment.

The dress, which is fully 3D-printed using the selective laser sintering (SLA) technique in PA-12, features mechanical arms that extend and retract as people approach based on the intensity of the wearer's breath. If the user is breathing heavily, the arms will act in a more aggressive posture while a softer breath will allow the arms to act in a friendlier (and more inviting) manner.

"If you wear a design that you partly control and it partly extends your agency through its autonomous actions, you start to question where you end and my system begins," says Wipprecht.

As for how she approached the design of the dress, Wipprecht utilized Materialise's 'Magics' software in the design to ensure that the final print was cohesive. The software, which is considered to be one of the most advanced of its kind, guides a user through each step of the rapid prototyping process to ensure that the final prints come out as intended. Additionally, Wipprecht teamed up with Phillip H. Wilck of Studio Palermo in Austria to create the upper dress bodice.

As for the wearable aspect of the hardware, Wipprecht and Wilck designed the dress in a way that keeps the heat generated from the on-board computer off of the wearer's body and also embeds all of the cables and sensors into the 3D printed design. The result is a fully-integrated system that hides all wires and sensors.

The final design also features black shells that are embedded with LEDs resembling spider ideas that also react based on how a user feels like their space is being threatened.

"Together we have been straddling difficult geometries and making all the mechanics (press) fit and work to be both mechanically, aesthetically as interaction-wise correct," said Wipprecht.

As for the hardware and software components of the dress, Wipprecht adds:

"The Edison module runs embedded Linux, the design is programmed in Python. The dress interactions are defined in '12 states of behavior' through two Mini Maestro 12-channel USB servo controllers from Pololu and uses inverse kinematics. I am working with 20 small 939MG metal gear servos (0.14sec.60o / 0.13sec.60o – stall torque all servos run back to the system. I am also working with Dynamixels (XL-320 series) of Robotis, which are super nice to work with as they are smart, strong and very accurate."

Previously, Wipprecht has worked on a similar dress that used biofeedback to initiate behavior based on the user's mental state called the Synapse. Similar to the Spider 2.0, it also relied on various states of calm and stress in order to control its mechanical features. The Synapse also features a fully-3D printed design and Intel Edison integration.

"Connecting raw data driven in real time by wireless bio signals was never before that accessible for me, since the microcontrollers that I used were either low in processing power or big and bulky. This means they are hard to integrate into fashion," she said of the Synapse.

"Edison allows me to integrate a super small piece of technology which can quickly compute complicated sets of signals, on-board storage and interconnect wirelessly to a lot of input data at once in a more advanced and intelligent way, to run my designs."

If you're curious to see the 3D printed Spider 2.0 in person, Wipprecht will be unveiling it this January at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2015) in Las Vegas, Nevada.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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