Dress Reacts Like Lizard #WearableWednesday

There seems to be an interesting theme going on with wearables right now dealing with personal space, and this particular dress really makes its point. Check out the video to see the lizard like reaction with the collar. Not only is it gorgeous, but it is indeed fashioned after an Australian Frill-Necked Lizard. This amazing collaboration is by two grad students –Kristen Weller and Rodrigo Carvalho. Rodrigo shared their story.

Kristen  is a Costume Technology MFA candidate at The University of Texas at Austin, and I’m a Digital Media PhD candidate at the University of Porto, Portugal. I was spending one semester abroad at the University of Texas in Spring of 2014 as a visiting researcher, when Kristen was seeking an Arduino tutor for her thesis work.  We decided to make a prototype that explored some of the products Kristen wanted to use in her thesis work, and a movement-as-output product for me.

Needless to say, they were a great team and designed a costume that creates both curiosity and caution as people approach. Here’s their parts list:

– 4x SG90 mini servos;
– 1x aArduino board Duemilanove
– 1x hc sr04 Ultrasound Sensor
– 10x ultrabright white LEDs
– 1x Lilypad Arduino

There were many considerations given to how the costume would move, but equally respectable were the considerations given to its design. It was important that things would be modular, so they would be easy to program. So, pieces like the LED collar snap off, and the fiber optic fabric is separately mounted on the underdress.  Both the servos and the board mounts use velcro, so they are easily removable for laundering. One special ingredient is the Bare Conductive Paint used on the bodice.

Kristen was especially interested in using the paint as she felt it was a more graceful choice than traditional embroidery or seaming.

It seems as though it was a success. The duo is hoping the dress will be accepted in the March 2015 United States Institute of Technical Theatre  (USITT) Young Designer’s & Technician’s Forum. Either way, it seems like there will be opportunities to perform as a robotic  Galactic Empress for some lucky dancer. You can get jealous or you can start hacking. Want moving wings or a flippant collar?  Then you might want to take a look at our guide on motors.


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