Butterfly Dress

Alexander Reeder

You are gorgeous and cutting-edge in the Butterfly Dress, catching looks and conversation as the butterflies on the dress flutter with your heartbeat and rise to greet strangers as you're reaching for your glass.


Classes Mechanisms and Things That Move,Wearables Studio

Any night out begins with a dance in the wardrobe to decide what
delectables to wear. Where are you going? Who will you be meeting?
How will you capture the attention of that gentleman across the room
What if your clothes could function as an ice-breaker and literally invite
a conversation - or better yet - instigate him to do so? The Butterfly
Dress is just that, a beautiful dress which catches attention, but also
serves as your personal ambassador, even while you are preoccupied.
Will he notice the fluttering of the butterflies as your throat catches
and heart races?

Clothes, which function as an insulating layer between their wearer and
the outside world, are in the perfect position to instigate
conversations beyond branding and style. The Butterfly Dress is aware
of her surroundings in two ways: first, the distance of people around
her using infrared sensors, and secondly, the heartbeat of her wearer.
Using this data she controls the flapping and vertical motion of golden
butterflies attached to her surface. As you approach the butterflies rise in greeting.
The magic is in the movement, and the flying butterflies will carry you both away.


User Scenario
With a nervous step Jill enters a room full of strangers.
Quick, to the bar for a drink, she thinks.
As she stands waiting for her martini a couple waiting behind
her notice the rhythmic fluttering of the butterflies on her
dress. "Hey, honey, it almost seems like a heart beating...".
Jill turns, "Why yes"...

Jane stands in the subway. A stranger enters the car, surprised
that when he walks by her, the butterflies on her dress
move - seemingly in greeting. He stops and asks,
"Did your dress just move?" Conversation ensues...

The dress itself is simple and white, made of silk. The butterflies are
laser cut from gold metallic linen. The butterflies are then attached
to brass rods, and the flapping motion is accomplished with small wire,
a spring and gear motor. The vertical motion of the butterflies is
achieved using a 3D rapid prototyped enclosure and gear mechanism, all
built from scratch. Sensing is done with Sharp IR sensors and a Polar
prototype board for heart rate sensing. Control of the circuit uses the
Lilypad, and power comes from a Studio 5050 rechargeable unit.

Making clothes people wear is one of the most challenging and rewarding
endeavors I have ever embarked on. Especially when it involves
electronics. And water - being washable.