Insoles monitor the way you walk

If you're thinking about movement monitoring, here's an interesting pedo-biometrics application. Research shows that each person has a unique way of walking that can be measured by pressure and your gait, so your footprint is just as much a personal signature as your fingerprint. A research team at Carnegie Mellon are fast at work to capitalize on this information and is developing special shoe inserts that can determine the identity of a person just by how they walk. These security-monitoring inserts can then determine whether or not a person has the security clearance to be in a certain area like a power plant, military base or a high-tech research facility. Continue reading on Ecouttere.

Carnegie Mellon University researchers at the new $1.5 million per year Pedo-Biometrics Lab are teaming up with Autonomous ID, an Ottawa, Canada, company currently relocating operations to the U.S. to test insole sensory system prototypes for a variety of identification uses, from security to detecting the onset of such diseases as diabetes and Parkinson's. The CMU Pedo-Biometrics Lab, headed by Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Marios Savvides, will provide the roadmap for scientific analysis and algorithm research and development for the new pedo-biometrics discipline, which uses a specially designed insole to monitor foot movement. Continue reading at Carnegie Mellon Engineering.

Image from Gent.

Experiments with kinetic and mechanical garments


Art Center College of Design Media Design student, Jae Kim, has done some fascinating structural and mechanical experiments that explore kinetic mechanics and movement in garments. The skirt exploration "is loose on top and gradually flows into a series of triangular pieces on the bottom. The triangles created a geometric form to the skirt that is then tied to a mechanical controller. The wearer adjusts the control located at the hip and the skirt reacts by moving the geometric grid, creating new rigid forms from this textile. The project hints at machine embedded fashion that can change forms at the touch of a button." Continue reading on

Some earlier stuctural exploration came out of a material and methods class. "The first assignment of this class was creating a device or object utilizing the sense of haptic. Beforehand, I studied the structure of umbrella; I dismembered and reconstruct the structure and created a new object. The process of dismembering and reconstruction inspired the making of this hood; I took the feeling of folding, flexibility and versatility. This hood can be an individual shelter. It is weather proof. It can be a shade from the sunlight and rain." (cargocollective)

Keep up the gorgeous work Jae! I can't wait to see more.

Photos from and More about Jae Kim and his work can be found on

Diana Eng's inflatable dress

This is an older project, but still worth a reminder. Diana Eng, in collaboration with Emily Albinski, created this gorgeous dress way back in 2003, which ended up making its way on the cover of ID Magazine. The designers used this project to explore how they could use electronics to change the shape and color of a gown. The dress inflates to allow you to change it's shape. Pump up the back or the sides to change its silhouette.

The designers made no attempt to hide the electronics, rather, they exposed the spaghetti-ball of wires and components as the main aesthetic. This was a pretty outrageous design at the time. Since then, inflatable and shape-shifting garments have been a topic of exploration from designers such as Hussein ChalayanExtra-Soft (XS) labsYing Gao, and Teresa Almeida.

Exploring the effects of personal volume

Designers Einar, Castillñano and Anette Andersen, call their collective the Spatials. They collaborated on a project that explores private and personal spaces and how they are affected by our surroundings and emotions. In this exploration, the collar of the garment reacts to various sensor inputs that control the strings via air pumps. The response either hides or reveals the wearer while the strings consume more or less of the space surrounding her.

A similar project is Teresa Almeida's Space Dress, which provides personal space in public places that I wrote about last month. Check out the posting here.

View more on the project on Andersen's blog.

Communication apparel

(image source)

Alis Cambol, interaction designer and design analyst at frog design in New York, has created a series of gorgeous garments that explore non-verbal communication titled Communication Apparel. Her work investigates a new language that can be expressed through clothes in combination with the wearer's gestures. She was inspired by the non-verbal communication of animal behaviors through their skin, fur, and behaviors. "By incorporating the non-verbal communication habits of animals into clothing, I proposed to enhance this capacity for expressivity. Using responsive technology, I was able to create a new visual language in human apparel, calling upon the dynamism of animal behaviors in response to danger, aggression, pleasure, and other feelings."

I particularly love the dress inspired by the frilled lizard, which raises its collar in moments of aggression. The lizard dress raises its collar when you cross your arms much like you would do if you were upset or becoming more aggressive. As you cross your arms, the collar raises, reacting naturally to the physical gesture.

Check out her beautiful videos that demonstrate the garments here. More info on the making here.

Dress provides personal space

Teresa Almeida designed Space Dress, which makes a comment on personal space in public places. It was originally designed for rush hour in New York City's subway system to help relieve stress and claustrophobic situations. The dress inflates based on the user's decision. As it inflates, people around you would be pushed away, increasing your sense of personal space, especially in crowded situations.

What I like about this is its simplicity in concept and aesthetics. Almeida's prototype proves the function and behavior while discretely hiding the componentry so that the experience is focused on the behavior and gesture of the dress in its environmental context.