Sep 25, 2015 | By Kira

Wild animals have all sorts of ways of attracting the opposite sex. Some howl or perform complicated dances, peacocks and exotic birds are known for parading their bright feathers, and others will engage in deadly conflicts to beat out their competitors. As for humans, well, we flirt, wink, stare…and often resort to Tinder. Now, architect and interaction designer Behnaz Farahi has created a 3D printed wearable that provokes a sort of modern day mating ritual by detecting and then reacting to other people’s gaze with organic, life-like movements.

Farahi’s work has often used 3D printing technology to combine fashion, art, interactivity and bodily experiences. Her goal is to enhance the relationship between human beings and their environments. Previously, she collaborated with 3D Systems to design the protective Victorian collar Ruff, and more recently, we wrote about Synapse, a 3D printed headpiece that can respond to the wearer’s brainwaves.

For Caress of the Gaze, Farahi worked with AutoDesk, PIER9 (where she is currently an Artist in Residence) and MADWORKSHOP to create a kind chest-covering cape covered with a beautiful layer of feather-like quills. While they appear soft to the touch, the quills can actually detect the gaze of another (a man, as shown in the video below) and expand and contract as his eyes move around the body. A microcontroller connected to the cape’s camera can also detect the age and gender of the onlooker, perhaps helping the wearer to discern their motives.

Farahi used a Stratasys Objet500 Connex 3D printer to execute the responsive life-like design. This printer “allows the fabrication of composite materials with varying flexibilities [and] densities, and can combine materials in several ways with different material properties deposited in a single run,” said Farahi. This permitted her to incorporate both soft and rigid materials allowing for more dynamic movement, which was inspired very much by the flexible behavior of skin itself.

Much like her other work, Caress of the Gaze is part of her ongoing mission to explore the potentials of 3D printed wearables, not only in creating unique aesthetic fashions, but in augmenting our bodily experiences and giving us entirely new ways to communication and mediate with our surroundings. This seems to be a trendy area of exploration, with creations such as the Adrenaline dress and Curie-powered sports bra recently making headlines.

A PhD candidate at University of Southern California and Artist in Residence at Autodesk, Pier 9, Farahi’s work has been exhibited in the USA, Canada, China, and has won her several prestigious awards.

While the concept for Caress of the Gaze is speculative, it would be interesting to see how it could affect our behavior in real life. I might be old-fashioned (eyes up here, gentlemen), but there could soon be a day when modern-day courtship involves more gaze-detecting microcontrollers and fewer awkward date nights. 



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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Charles wrote at 9/27/2015 8:51:34 PM:

" . . . when modern-day courtship involves more gaze-detecting microcontrollers and fewer awkward date nights. " Well, maybe . . . My best guess would be there will always be awkward date nights, extruded through the mandrel of newly emergent forms of awkwardness.

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