A 3D printed dress that disappears when you tweet
Are you one of those people who post every single little detail of their lives on social media? From pictures of what you’ve had for dinner, to endless selfies, comments that reveal your location and more? Are you even aware of how much you are revealing about yourself when you make these seemingly innocent posts? One company thinks that we have greatly underestimated just how much information we let slip about ourselves, every time we go onto our favorite social media platform, and has decided to do something about it.
X.pose is a piece of 3D printed wearable technology with a difference. It is a corset-style dress, which Pedro Oliveira and Xuedi Chen created and manufactured for their NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program thesis show. However, this is no ordinary dress, the 3D printed frock connects to the wearer’s smartphone, and every time they post on social media, the dress becomes more transparent.
The designers wanted to highlight the connection between digital exposure and exposure in real life, stating that it was all too obvious to control just how much we revealed physically, but digitally it is a different story. Simply by signing up to certain social media platforms, users are implicitly giving their permission for various organisations to use their data as they wish. So when you are posting up your likes and dislikes, this is all data for these organisations to use and possibly target you in the future.
The designers explained that they wanted users to get this message when they created the dress.
“In the physical realm, we can deliberately control which portions of our bodies are exposed to the world by covering it with clothing. In the digital realm, we have much less control of what personal aspects we share with the services that connect us. In the digital realm, we are naked and vulnerable.”
To create the 3D dress, the designers used a mobile app and server, which collected the user’s body measurements in order to produce a perfect size fit for the mesh style. This bespoke pattern was then printed using a soft and wearable material. Once the person is wearing it, the app downloads real time data, which then affects the transparency of the mesh, according to how much “passively generated information” is created.
The designers explain how exactly the mesh material works:
“These displays are divided up into patches that represent neighbourhoods and change in opacity depending on the wearer’s current location. If she is in the NYU neighbourhood, that area will be the most active, pulsing, revealing her current location, revealing the fact that her data is being collected and, at the same time, exposing her skin. As her data emissions are collected, the more transparent and exposed she will become.”
Although we don’t think that people are going to rush out and buy this dress, it does highlight and bring to our attention just how lax we are at monitoring our online activities. We live in an age where we post every little detail of our lives online, without a single thought to who is picking up this data, and what they are doing with it.
If this 3D printed dress has caused us to stop and think about posting that picture of our dinner on Twitter tonight, then it is certainly one thought provoking design.