BIOdress: a body-worn environmental interface

a work in progress: the BIOdress, a body-worn interface, challenges anthropocentric thought by acting as a “living” display, bringing imperceptible information, such as plant well-being and other environmental data, into the human realm. By supporting the development of interspecies communication, the BIOdress grants the non-human realm a voice and highlights the human species symbiotic relationship to its environment, and so aims to increase human empathy towards other living systems BIOdress_sketch_01and contribute towards the sustainable development of the planet as a whole.

The BIOdress connects the wearer with the environment and surrounding context by reacting and changing in accordance with the ambient conditions. The dress responds to three particulars; (i) particulate levels (dust), (ii) air quality, and (iii) organic (plant) EMG readings.

Environmental sensors enable the BIOdress to read what the plant is ‘sensing’ on a quantitative level. Design and technology then allows us to articulate this state qualitatively in three different ways: 

  • Thermochromic dyes allow the garment to change colour according to the particulate levels detected in the air. The dyes are activated through heating up of embroidered conductive thread (i).

  • Actuators expand and contract pleats situated on the shoulders of the BIOdress, so that they appear to ‘breathe’, in response to the air quality. Faster breathing equates to poorer air quality, to the point of exhaustion (ii).
  • The fabric leaves attached to the garment are fashioned using a shape memory alloy, which allows the leaves to move synergistically with the plants internal energy, measured by an EMG sensor (iii).

The BIOdress project is an international collaborative work by Sara Adhitya (University College London), Beck Davies (Griffith University), Raune Frankjær (Trier University of Applied Sciences),  Patricia Flanagan (Hong Kong Baptist University) and Zoe Mahogny (University of New South Wales) and was developed as part of the Haptic Interface 14 Workshop hosted by the Wearables Lab at the Academy of Visual Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University.