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.
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?