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Where Neurotechnology meets Fashion-Tech.

Dutch Fashion-Tech Designer Anouk Wipprecht, the Institute for Integrated Circuits at JKU/Johannes Kepler University Linz and Austrian neurotechnology company g.tec medical engineering GmbH announced PANGOLIN SCALES BCI+Dress. The new project combines EEG and brain signals with fashion and art in unique and innovative ways.

In this new EEG meets Fashion-Tech collaboration, 1024 channels (over 64 PCB’s on the head) from a newly developed Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) are connected to a 3D printed Robotic Dress with 64 outputs. The dress mechanisms function like animatronic elements, moving and lighting up according to the brain wave signals. In other words, the dress becomes a real-time data visualizer of brain data.

The BCI and Dress will be displayed and demonstrated during Ars Electronica Festival September 9-13, 2020 and accompanied by an (online) Symposium and Hackathon.

The Pangolin Scales project demonstrates the world’s first 1.024 channel BCI (Brain-Computer Interface) that is able to extract information from the human brain with an unprecedented resolution. The extracted information is used to control the Pangolin Dress interactively and will be shown live on a model during the Ars Electronica Festival. The 1.024 channel brain-computer interface is also used as an input device for the BR41N.IO Designers’ Hackathon during the Ars Electronica Festival.

Leveraging a unique experience in creating interactive, 3D printed wearable products, which dates back several years and includes several successful works (with Rolls Royce, Cirque du Soleil and Audi, among others) Anouk Wipprecht designed the 3D printed dress with the aim to hold more than 64 elements. “Since we [along with partners at gtec and JKU] are using 64 PCB’s on the BCI, the dress needed 64 outputs”, Anouk exclusively told 3dpbm. “I divided that into 32 servo motors and 32 LED’s that all are connected to each of the Pangolin grids and to PCB’s on the head of the model, creating the live visualization effects.”

The dress is also inspired by the pangolin, cute, harmless animals sometimes known as scaly anteaters. They have large, protective keratin scales covering their skin (they are the only known mammals with this feature) and live in hollow trees or burrows. They are nocturnal and tend to be solitary animals, meeting only to mate. Pangolins are threatened by poaching (for their meat and scales, which are used in Chinese traditional medicine) and heavy deforestation of their natural habitats, and are the most trafficked mammals in the world (Wikipedia). As such, Pangolins and considered an endangered species and some have theorized that the recent coronavirus may have emerged from the consumption of pangolin meat. These – and other recent issues – may have provided the inspiration in current events themes, which often characterizes Wipprecht’s production.

Wipprecht’s main challenge in the project’s development was to not overload the dress with additional weight. She teamed up 3D printing experts Shapeways and Igor Knezevic in order to create an ‘exo-skeleton’ like dress-frame (3mm) that was light enough to be worn but sturdy enough to hold all the mechanics in place. “It definitely is a dress that is ‘out there’ – the designer added – we are using a lot of wires to create a well-behaved data communication system, and we wanted to go for a very ‘cyborg’ look. Very ‘H.R. Giger-esque’. Which fits the theme of the festival as it mixes art x fashion x technology.”

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