After the let-down from the camouflage route, I was gone for a 2 AMAZING conferences (GHC & UIST). While I was away, the groups got together and thought of how to make the suit work! It was through actual shape shifting. Though not exactly, chameleon-like, the suit would change it’s physically appearance according to input from the user or based on ambient input!
To be frank, I was a little intimidated at first, by the idea. I couldn’t imagine how we could muster the power to make long sleeves-short sleeves, without making it uncomfortable for the user in some way. But with some research my dismay was put to rest.
At UIST, as a matter of fact, I saw several projects that were related or useful for our new suit. One such project was about live paper! The student took memory wire and embedded some into paper and made origami creatures. He then, set the pose he wanted the creature to go to and then set it to a resting position. He demonstrated that with heat, the metal would contract causing the paper to move and the creature to look alive. Indeed it did! A very promising project for us!
Another project that was very interesting was one that used the lily pad arduino and sensors to make ones t-shirt sleeve a control. The students demonstrated to us that the sensors were so refined that they could sense fine tuning as well as robust tuning. The perfect interface for a music player or phone! What was truly useful for our project, however, was how small the footprint could be on the article of clothing. This gave me hope for the user’s physical comfort while wearing the suit.
With these works for inspiration and new energy, we moved toward our first prototype.