Iridescence is an interactive 3D printed collar, inspired by the gorget of the Anna’s hummingbird. It is equipped with a facial tracking camera and an array of 200 rotating quills. The custom-made quills flip their colors and start to make patterns, in response to the movement and facial expressions of onlookers. In the process, each quill starts to make a sound not dissimilar to the sound of a humminbird’s wings. If you are the wearer, even with your eyes closed, you can just hear what emotions people are expressing as well as sense where they are standing relative to you. If you are the onlooker, you know that your movement and facial expressions have been detected and reflected in the behavior of the wearable. For instance, if you have an angry face, the collar will start to tremble. This might influence your behavior.
What did you create?
The hummingbird is a remarkable creature. The male Anna’s hummingbird, for example, has feathers around his throat that appear at one moment completely green. With a twist of his head, however, he can turn them into an iridescent pink. He does this by exploiting the capacity of the microscopic structure of the feather to refract light like a prism, so that the feathers take on different shimmering hues, when viewed from different angles. This is how the Anna’s hummingbird attracts mates during his spectacular displays of aerial courtship. Iridescence is an interactive collar, inspired by the gorget of the Anna’s hummingbird. It is equipped with a facial tracking camera and an array of 200 rotating quills. The custom-made quills flip their colors and start to make patterns, in response to the movement of onlookers and their facial expressions.
Why did you make it?
The piece was commissioned by the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago for an exhibition that would last for 15 months entitled "Wired to Wear". One of the pragmatic challenges in this project was to provide an interactive kinetic piece which would be both capable of surviving that length of time, and of being serviced and maintained based on a comparatively easy set of instructions. A modular system was therefore selected that would allow each lenticular element to flex and flip individually in order to change its color. The challenge was to build a mechanism that could flip each lenticular element in one degree of freedom, in order to mimic a hummingbird’s flapping motion and color change.
How did you make it?
This project addresses a number of challenging technical issues. (please watch this process video: https://vimeo.com/332480589) Firstly, the design and fabrication of color changing materials was informed by the logic of lenticular behavior. Not dissimilar to how light is refracted by the feathers of a hummingbird, Iridescence uses lenticular lenses laminated onto an array flat colored surfaces to provide color changing effects. Secondly, the rotation of the quills is controlled by a series of custom made electro-magnetic actuators, carefully designed to withstand the natural wear and tear of being part of an exhibition that lasts 15 months. These actuators can be easily removed and replaced by substitute actuators, if any of them fail. Another major engineering task has been to design a PCB driver boards to control and orchestrate the actuator's behavior.
Your entry’s specification
10 ibs, Human-size