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© 2009 Elizabeth Quick demo hack of the game of life dress, day 2

Life Dress [aftershow wrap up]

Life dress
Life dress
Life dress

The Life Dress is a garment constructed of dragon skin silicone with leds embedded inside.  The dress is largely a conceptual experiment in constructing a dress our of unusual materials. I chose dragon skin for three reasons. [1] The dragon skin diffuses the light of the leds into a halo effect, [2] the dragon skin has an odd, pseudo organic feel, and [3] it is named dragon skin and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to tell certain geeky friends that I had a dress made of dragons skin.

The dragon skin is poured as tiles with an led embedded in each tile. The tiles are then linked together in a grid formation to construct what is, in effect, a platform for dynamic patterns, animations, and interactive displays.

The form of the dress is inspired by the grid layout used in running John Conway’s algorithm, the Game of Life. The algorithm is a simple set of rules that determined weather each cell in a grid is either alive (on) or dead (off). I was intrigued how, with a simple set of rules, the algorithm generated simple animations which I could visualize on a dress as a dynamic pattern. Thus, each tile on the dress represents a cell on the board so that the dress becomes a board that envelopes the wearer. The pattern is also easily reinterpreted as a cylindrical screen with three inch square pixels so that the dress can easily be repurposed for other other patterns and interactive displays.

After constructing the dress and experimenting with lighting, I made an additional and rather amusing discovery. I was aware that the the tiles were somewhat transparent, that serves my interest in diffusing the light. However, what I later discovered was that, when lit, the tiles obscured whatever was underneath so that an observer could only see vague shadows. Thus, depending on what tiles are on and what tiles are off, the Life Dress can be considered an exercise in public indecency.

I am, quite frankly, shocked by the reception of the dress. I had considered pulling the dress out of the show when I couldn’t wire all the tiles in time. But the night after the show’s first day, I received some very unexpected validation: a writeup in Gizmodo. Aside from being the best birthday present ever, the Gizmodo article also caught the attention of many attendees to the second day of the show. Several individuals came up to my dress and noted that they had read about it in Gizmodo the night before.  Better yet, the dress is now the top Google hit for “ITP Winter Show.”

The interest keeps snowballing, though it will probably wear out soon.  All the same, there are some things in the works now.  I have been approached by some other publications to submit work in collections for wearable technology.

At the after-party, I was glowing and it wasn’t only due to the vodka (and I wasn’t wearing the dress).

image from Jon's photoshoot
Close up of the Life dress on a model.


Talk to my shirt which seems to be getting a lot of activity.
Empathic Design

Related posts:

  1. Life Dress [Prototype] Life Dress Redux For those who followed the ridiculousness...
  2. Life Dress [Proposal] The Life Dress has a maintained page at I...
  3. Life Dress [Mold v3] The Life Dress has a maintained page at Today,...
  4. ITP Winter Show [Day 1] The Life Dress has a maintained page at After...
  5. Life Dress in Gizmodo…AGAIN The Life Dress has a maintained page at Yes,...

8 Trackbacks

  1. By Life Dress [Review] | Uploading on December 30, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    [...] the phenomenal people I worked with, Startup Weekend and the dedicated team Startup Matchup, or the Winter Show and my short lived flirtation with the press.  My compromises have lead to some surprisingly [...]

  2. By Wearable technology….um, yeah | Uploading on January 15, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    [...] coming across a blog post referencing my Life Dress as a realization of a piece of science fiction, I have finally decided to catch up on a few of the [...]

  3. By Life Dress [Photo Shoot] | Uploading on January 24, 2010 at 12:38 am

    [...] the same, the long awaited photo shoot took place.  Ever since the winter show, I have been meaning to get some decent pictures of the life dress in it’s illuminated form. [...]

  4. By Paper Lanterns | Uploading on January 28, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    [...] had lovely components but, when all wired up, didn’t really work. Possibly like a certain Life Dress I might know. Regardless of past experience, Despina assigned me to “make a connection” [...]

  5. By Yeah, I Know Her | Uploading on January 29, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    [...] conversation.  His conversation partner noted a dress just in Gizmodo, a certain light-up, silicone dress.  My friend was proud to say that, yes, he knew that girl.  And, what strikes me the most is that [...]

  6. By Materiality | Uploading on March 11, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    [...]  Silicone is a material that I find particularly fascinating.  I’ve talked before about my rational for using dragon skin: it’s translucent, tactily engaging, and is named dragon [...]

  7. By Life Dress [Leads] | Uploading on April 4, 2010 at 8:03 am

    [...] of the major differences between the original Life Dress and v2 is the embedded circuitry. Before, the life dress acted more as a means of suspending lights [...]

  8. By Dragon Skin and Feathers | Elizabeth Fuller on February 1, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    [...] Silicone is a material that I find particularly fascinating. I’ve talked before about my rational for using dragon skin: it’s translucent, tactility engaging, and is named dragon [...]

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