A Haptic Social Interface with Inflatable Fabrics

Abstract. Wearable electronics endow us a great capacity to see clothing as an extension of our body and an interface to interact with our physical and social environment. The fashion industry is experimenting with new tectonics and materiality, however, few projects have explored wearables in the public and social domains and how it can dynamically respond to a wide range of interpersonal distances in social interaction. PNEU-SKIN is a pneumatic wearable that uses critical making as a research strategy to explore interactive and soft interfaces to create soft boundaries between private and public space. 

This paper proposes an embodied computation agenda and describes the design and prototyping process of a multi-sensory smart skin in response to varying social distance in interpersonal communication. By looking at adaptive behaviors in nature and the way that certain animal species respond to external stimuli by increasing their size and providing multi-sensory responses, PNEU-SKIN looks into how our clothing could become an adaptable skin to redefine interpersonal communication experience within everyday social interaction.

This research was supported by Tongji University College of Architecture and Urban Planning and developed in DigitalFUTURES Shanghai 2018 Workshop with team members Pengfei Kang, Wenzhen Yi, and Zhiyi Rong. The authors would like to express great appreciation to the instructors and teaching assistants of the workshop, specifically, Behnaz Farahi, Jifei Ou, and Yuqiong Lin. The authors would also like to extend grateful thanks to MIT Media Lab Tangible Media Group, whose work laid the hardware foundation of the case study and
motivated the authors to do the research.

The research was presented at the 26th International Conference of the Association for Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia CAADRIA 2021. Organized from Hong Kong  

Session: Digital Fabrication and Innovative Material Systems

Session Chair: Nic Bao

See the paper here.