3D Printing

Are You Unhappy To See Me Or Is That Just Your 3D Printed Mechatronic Spider Dress?

Anouk Wipprecht has created another startling piece of wearable fashion.  Presenting the Spider Dress 2.0! Say you take a nice trip to see the amazon rain forest, you are walking along a trail, and you run into a huge spider.

Inspired by the territorial displays of arachnids like this Brazilian Wandering Spider, Anna’s mechatronic dress was designed to take advantage of an Intel Edison chip that uses bio signals and “learned threat detection” to defend the wearer’s personal space. In other words, the mechanical spider legs extend and retract intuitively in response to external stimuli. The wearer’s own breath will help to signal the defense posture of the robotic arms as someone approaches, or if the wearer feels threatened.

This might scare the shit out of catcallers, for example.  Imagine if you or someone you know is walking down the street and somebody starts with “hey baby” lines, or the “why aren’t you smiling today, sweetheart” crap, or they get too close for comfort, and mechanical spider arms pop out and display a threatening pose.  I’m sure most women would have loved to spider-scare the daylights out of unwanted harassment at some point, or all of the time.

Anouk Wipprecht 3D Printed Mechatronic Spider Dress

It’s not just for self-defense.  It wouldn’t be too much fun if the spider legs attacked everyone who came close to you who you would not want to spider-scare (a child, for instance). The speed of the approach of a presence will also feed into displays of defensive behavior.  Approach quickly and the legs will aggressively posture, but approach in a leisurely fashion and the legs will gently greet you.  So much for sneak attacks or kids running up to you.  Oh well.

Anyway, Anouk seems to be interested in what constitutes a cyborg.  Are we cybernetic organisms because we all carry around phones and are hooked into a computer more than ever in our brief history on Earth? Maybe or maybe not, but her Synapse Dress was designed in a similar way, using biofeedback to record when the user was stressed, confused, distracted or “in the zone”, and it would physically react to the wearer’s mental state.

In her own words,“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. When you wear Synapse, for example – it knows you sometimes better than you know yourself, as through Intel Edison it captures wireless bio-signals and data visualizes them while monitoring user behavior.”

Anouk Wipprecht 3D Printed Mechatronic Spider Dress

The mechatronic spider dress is 3D printed using SLS (selective laser sintering) in a ridged PA-12.  Materialise’s Magics software was used to check the complicated structures and geometry for an optimized print.  Wipprecht worked with Philip H. Wilck from Studio Palermo in Austria to create the upper dress bodice.

Wipprecht said,“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.”

Elaborating on the specs of the mechatronic functionality, she said, “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, which use inverse kinematics.  I am working with 20 small 939MG metal gear servos (0.14sec.60o / 0.13sec.60o – stall torque 2.5kg.cm/2.7kg.cm) 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.”

Anouk Wipprecht 3D Printed Mechatronic Spider Dress

The hardware design solutions are neatly integrated into the elegant aesthetics of the dress. Overheating isn’t an issue, as the Edison is neatly integrated in a housing component on the back of the 3D print, where it is cooled away from the body.   The wires come in through plugs to the housing and are “threaded into the interior structure of the piece.”The sensors are also integrated into the 3D print design, so there is no hassling with sticky medical pads to mess up your spider look.

Anouk Wipprecht 3D Printed Mechatronic Spider Dress

The video below doesn’t show much; it’s a teaser.  If you are going to CES in Las Vegas January 6-9, 2015, the piece will be showcased by Intel.

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