Skin examines the future integration of sensitive materials in the area of emotional sensing. Two of the garments created for Skin identify a new way of communicating by using clothes as proxies to convey deep feelings that are difficult to express in words. 

The Bubelle, or blushing dress, has two layers. The inner layer is equipped with sensors that respond to changes in the wearer’s emotions. These are then projected onto the outer textile layer.

The Frisson body suit has LEDs that illuminate according to the wearer’s state of excitement. Both of these garments measure skin signals and change light emission via biometric sensing technology.

According to Clive van Heerden, project manager of Skin and senior director at Philips Design in Eindhoven, the project aims to be inspirational.

“This concept is meant to provoke ideas and to push technical frontiers,” said van Heerden. “There are lots of biometric solutions on the market that can detect heart rate, breathing and oxygen levels. But we are trying to understand emotional rather than physiological conditions.

“The complexity of human skin provides an interesting model and metaphor for our project, which is an artistic representation of a series of biological and physiological processes. Blushing, for example, involves a change to the skin that results from a physiological process.”

The Frisson garment even reacts to being blown on. “Frisson was very much inspired by the function of human skin and was intended to be the second skin,” explained van Heerden.

There are very fine hairs on the surface of the garment that are sensitive to movement, touch and airflow, much like the microscopic hairs on our body.

“With Bubelle, the blushing dress, we were stimulated by the idea of creating a filament within a light bulb. The form lent itself to projection, to create an atmosphere.

“Most human communication is indirect, using gesture, facial expressions and posture. We thought it would be interesting to let the body do the talking in an honest and amplified way.

“We’re interested in products – fashion pieces and the technology we surround ourselves with – that exhibit greater sensitivity and emotion.

“Most technology over the last decade has involved interaction though keyboards and LCD displays which is very abstracted and even alienating. We are trying to find more sensual, more sensitive interaction modalities. We are intrigued by the possibility of communication with machines being non-literal, non-textual, less digital and more sensual.” 

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