Series 7. Eco Icon No.3

‘You are what you tweet‘ The ‘printing’ dress by Microsoft Research

Asta Roseway, a senior designer at Microsoft Research , and Sheridan Martin Small from Xbox developed the’ Printing’ dress, as a visual representation of the integral role that tweeting and texting now plays in our lives. The idea behind this exploration of the use  impact of tweets in our social communication illustrates how far our communication methods have evolved.

The’ printing’ dress is a  high-tech creation designed to explore the impact of wearable text on fashion and social identity. Built almost entirely of paper ( hopefully recycled!) the dress via its interactive technology allows you to tweet your innermost thoughts in ‘text bite’ form and wear them as public art.

The concept that drove the development of the dress is a  homage to the printing press-  invention that started it all. “Almost overnight, printing transformed longhand into an assembly of glyphs comprised of letters and numbers,” say Roseway and Small. “This streamlined the sharing of ideas and made replication of the printed word accessible worldwide.”To showcase the flexibility of texting on the go, the designers integrated a custom keyboard that allows the wearer to send messages to a display.

Composed of a bodice, corset, and skirt—all machine-stitched from paper ( comforting that there remains a low tech element within this hi-tech experiment)—presumably to echo the past while acknowledging the role digital ink has on our present.  The designers integrated a custom keyboard in the form of a vintage typewriter that allows the wearer to send messages to a display—in this case, the skirt.

Technology-wise, the dress comprises four  LilyPad Arduino boards,one USB hub, a laptop, a capacitive keyboard, solid and stranded wire, and a short-throw projector. Hitting a key sends it to the laptop, which then displays the character as animated text. The ‘out there wow factor’ was intentional according  to designers Roseway and Small who wanted  their piece to be anything but subtle.

“Some may be repelled by its ostentatious presentation, while others might dare to imagine a more transparent and open world,” they say. “It is our hope that this piece will inspire conversations that go beyond fashion or technology to topics such as awareness, accountability, privacy, and identity.”

“tweet dreams are made of this………”

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