When you think "sexy," you usually don't conjure up images of hearing aids. In an attempt to give assistive technology a hotter vibe while empowering the user, computer scientists created a prototype for a high-tech party dress that flutters when it detects loud noises from a particular direction.
Appropriately named "Flutter," the the sculptural dress was developed by Halley Profita, a PhD student and research assistant in the University of Colorado-Boulder's Wellness Innovation and Interaction Lab, Nicholas Farrow and computer science assistant professor Nikolaus Correll. Hat tip to Ubergizmo's Tyler Lee.
The dress is equipped with numerous microphones embedded inside the bodice that pull in sound from different directions. The hidden system of microphones can determine the frequencies and amplitude of incoming noise, according to the researchers description.
"The microphones collectively agree on the direction of sound and, in turn, actuate small vibration motors in the leaflets to simulate fluttering in the direction of the auditory cue," they write. When those wings flutter a certain way because of a loud horn honk or fire truck blare, it signals danger. Small vibratory motors placed inside the back also help. The louder the sound, the more intense the haptic feedback.
While hearing impaired women might still want to pair this dress with other assistive tech, depending on how they feel most comfortable communicating, it certainly does express confidence. It would be awesome if the dress could also subtly convey other info, guiding the wearer toward partygoers who are good conversationalists and away from jerks. For the moment, that might be asking too much from the microphones.
Photos: The Flutter dress prototype vibrates in the direction of loud noises. Credit: Halley Profita, Nicholas Farrow, and Nikolaus Correll