Innovation That Matters

Smart accessories

Robotic jewellery roams around clothes during wear


This project explores the use of smart accessories to change an outfit’s appearance, act as jewellery and even create patterns in material.

A team from the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created an accessory that is no long just something that hangs from a neck, but moves around the clothes even when worn. Project Kino engineers the accessories with the functionality of miniaturised robots, giving them the ability to roam on unmodified clothing and change location and appearance according to the social context.

Each accessory is installed with sensor devices, assisting it to respond to environmental conditions. They can also be paired with mobile devices to become personalised assistants when on the body to help complete tasks. Each tiny robot can work as a different function. In a pattern changing mode, the cover designs camouflage with the underneath textile so it gives the appearance of the pattern morphing in different ways, creating a different aesthetic. Multiple accessories positioned around the neck can also create the appearance of jewellery, or a single device could act as a brooch.

In its more advanced capabilities, the robot can trigger clothing to actively adapt based on the climate or needs of the wearer. MIT created a coat and connected each drawstring of the hood to a device. Upon detecting an increase in temperature, the devices move downwards to unfold the hood. In another use, the devices can etch into specific fabrics and “draw” temporary patterns when moving. On fabrics such as velvet, the robots leave visible tracks during movement and the clothing becomes a canvas to etch designs.

Merging clothing and technology provides a multitude of uses, such as the smart suit that helps prevent back pain and temperature controlled clothing that cools or warms up the wearer when needed. How could high tech clothing help your day-to-day activities?



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