Micro-Environment Gear merges the performance of medical gear with fashion’s affordance for self augmentation and personal expression.
As the frequency of global pandemics continues to rise, our collective health in the twenty-first century will increasingly depend on the physical and virtual apparatuses used for tracking and identifying infectious diseases within the urban context. This project proposes clothing, an intimate architecture as a site capable of mitigating the spread of airborne germs while providing customized psychological comfort and personal expression in dense urban environments.
An intervention at the scale of the mobile individual, the body, rather than one’s collective enclosure, is opportune for minimizing the spread of diseases: personal devices can anticipate the conditions when one is most likely to become infected and respond with protective measures. The project proposes a series of shirts and personalized face masks. The shirts are equipped with temperature and galvanic response sensors. Upon detecting a change in the state of the body, the shirt’s collar – sewn with shape memory wire – is released to cover the wearer’s face. The shirt mutates with the subconscious physical signals detected by biosensors. The body’s internal nervous system is extended to the exterior, manifesting itself in the electric circuit that is incorporated into the textile.
The design of the mask takes current advanced medical mask technology — such as silver nano particle impregnated filter textiles for germ deactivation — and adds performance through form. By multiplying the mask’s surface area through the folding of the fabric, an increased level of protection is gained. The prototypical medical gear then transforms towards a more complex form, one that converges with the presentation and augmentation of the self through fashion.
The project builds on current trends in wearable computing, along with the increasing proliferation of self-monitoring health initiatives, biosensors and electronic hobbyist tools in customizing everyday life. As ubiquitous technologies become more adept at sensing elements invisible to the human eye and acting on this function invisibly, to what extent do we desire a visible representation and form of these operations?.
This thesis emerged out of an interest in airports as the frontlines of disease control. The prevalence of biometric scanners for temperature detection, airport quarantine rooms and on-board health checks all collapse here onto the surface of the body. The clothes argue for an integration of systems designed to enhance the perception of our milieu.
*Advisor: Carol Moukheiber