Dress Makes Data Exposure More Literal


A New York designer has created a dress that exposes her skin in proportion to the amount of data she has — knowingly or otherwise — exposed about herself online.

Xuedi Chen says the project is designed to explore questions about how personal information is made public when somebody uses online services: “Since I have already ceded control of my data, I wanted to go a step further and broadcast it for anyone and everyone to see.”

Chen runs the project using a custom mobile application that collects the data transmitted by her phone. The dress itself has a mesh pattern (3D printed, of course) which is based on a map put together from her location data recorded over the course of a month and thus covers an area of New York City.

The panels between the mesh are made from electrochromic film. By default it’s opaque, but when an electric charge passed through it, it turns transparent. It’s the same technique used in privacy glass found in awesome houses which my wife won’t let us move to, citing financial constraints.

The app tracks the data transmitted by the phone and sends a signal to the dress via Bluetooth. An Arduino processor in the dress then sends out a charge to turn panels transparent based on the amount of data the phone is sharing and Chen’s current location, which is effectively mapped on her dress.

The project is understandably attracting lots of attention, some of it concentrating on the artistic message and the technology involved and some of it… not. One wag even suggested the technology might be ideal for bringing strip poker into the online era.


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