Reacting to the world around you can be a delicate situation even for the most outgoing of people. How do you react politely to a person who is speaking too loudly? How do you express unhappiness (and shield your sensitive eyes) from a sudden bright light? Designer Sangli Lin developed a playful way to interact with the world without having to utter a syllable: an environmentally reactive hat.
Li’s Expressive Wearable project uses clothing and accessories as more than just fashion – they are communication tools. The hat displayed here is equipped with a number of sensors that detect objects in close proximity to the user, loud noises, and bright lights. At the presence of any of these annoyances, the hat reacts immediately.
The proximity sensor reacts by unfolding a fan from the neck area that encourages the encroacher to back off. Loud sounds cause fans to swoop down over the wearer’s ears, and bright lights bring fans down over the eyes. These reactions don’t necessarily deter the actions that caused them, but they do convey a very simple non-verbal message: the wearer does not appreciate what has just happened.
Li points out that the wearable is not a “smart” device; it is simple and intelligent only in the sense that it displays the wearer’s personality and preferences. The designer poses a difficult but sensible question: is the use of this type of technology gentle and modest, or does it convey a sense of arrogance on the part of the wearer?
More from designer Sangli Lin
“Expressive Wearable explores clothing as a communication tool. This project imagines a scenario in which clothing expresses the wearer’s attitude directly without the concern of adhering to social conventions. More broadly, the project explores how people might playfully use wearables that move and gesture, what the aesthetics of these will be, and how wearables might interact with each other in group situations.”
“This project speaks up in silence, using ambiguity as a guide to explore a seemingly impromptu interaction while delivering a meaningful message accurately and expressively. It provokes social conventions by speculating on the complexity of human psychological behaviors.”