Jasna Rokegem has many talents, including fashion design, modeling and my fave, wearable tech. Her project, Exaltation, is really a personal fashion response to her own life issues.
This project is kind of a self portrait, because I started with a problem that I am dealing with every single day. I can’t shut down my brain anymore and I am constantly thinking, being very ambitious to make my dreams come true; I run from the one place to the other and am working the whole time. This causes me to have no time for myself anymore and I don’t enjoy the little moments.
The idea of Exaltation is that the dress transforms to fit the needs of the situation. So, if you are feeling overstimulated from too many people talking around you, the neckline of the dress may slowly unfold upward and create a partial cowl to shield you. If you are witnessing an argument from a nearby couple, the neckline may rise even further creating a cocoon. Check out the artistic video.
The main brains of the outfit are Atmel 328 controllers, RF12 transceivers for wireless communication and servo motors. Servos are definitely popping up in fashion now, and Jasna’s origami style cowl makes good use of them to control movement. What’s interesting is that the movement can be based on two different triggers. One of the triggers is a photo resistor which can act like a proximity sensor. So, if someone is too close, they will shade the sensor causing the neckline to activate. The other trigger utilizes a hacked Mindflex, which is a toy from Mattel that reads brainwaves (as a toy lover, I had to look that one up!). The Wiki on Mindflex states that there has been some controversy as to whether the toy tricks the user into believing there is control. However, it appears that Mindflex uses the same chip as Neurosky’s product, so it should really work. It’s cool to think that your thoughts can control the movement of your outfit, and that’s exactly what Jasna is after.
With this design I created a feedback loop (neural feedback). When your theta level (your state of meditation/relaxation) is low, you are feeling uncomfortable, stressed. At this moment, the design will move and blow up or open in stages, depending on the data of your Theta level. The lower the level, the bigger the design, so you have to calm down to shut it down again. The design is making you conscious of your own behavior and the final goal is to learn to control yourself and do some self reflection.
All of this points to my main reasoning for sensors–to get back in touch with the self. It reminds me a lot of the ’70’s when biofeedback and mood rings became a thing. Many people laughed at it back in the day, and now people are wearing Fitbits and wishing to understand everything about their body and mind. It also reminds me of one of my fave flicks–Firefox. Remember how Clint Eastwood had to think in Russian? It seemed like a joke then, and now I know students working on thought controlled robots. We’ve come a long way in a short amount of time.
Jasna’s idea is right on time, and now she is finishing her graduate degree and working on a full line of clothing that will be accompanied by another artistic fashion film and photos. If all goes well her work will be on display in Belgium and the Netherlands. She is certainly as busy as you might imagine, and who knows, perhaps she is even wearing one of her origami cowls now to make sure she stays focused. I know I’ll be keeping my eye on her future designs as I enjoy her sci fi/spiritual themes.
So, let’s get to part that includes you making wearables that shift and slink. If you haven’t worked with motors before, it may be good to do a quick read of our Types of Motors learning guide. You’ll find the right one to fit your needs and match it to the right controller. Have fun and keep learnin’!
Exalation Photo Team: Models: Cheroney Pelupessy (Top) and Isaura Flint (Bottom), Make-up: Caroline Tombrock, Hair: Sandra Krouwer, Photography: Jasper van Gheluwe.
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