Robotic Spider Dress defends your personal space

Fashiontech designer Anouk Wipprecht has updated her personal space defensive Spider Dress with Intel Edison and 3D printing.

Michelle Starr Science editor
Michelle Starr is CNET's science editor, and she hopes to get you as enthralled with the wonders of the universe as she is. When she's not daydreaming about flying through space, she's daydreaming about bats.
Michelle Starr
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Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET

It's my considered and educated opinion that Anouk Wipprecht's updated Spider Dress is fabulous on sheer aesthetic value alone, but the spectacular grotesquerie isn't simply for its own sake. The dress has been integrated with a number of technologies leveraging Intel's Edison chip to keep people from entering your personal space.

It's actually an update of a design released by Wipprecht in January 2013; compared to the new Spider Dress, though, the earlier work looks much more like the prototype it is. For the new version, Wipprecht has tapped into 3D printing to create fully integrated a bodice that looks like a species of alien skeleton, rather than just electronics mounted on the shoulders.

If wearing sets of spider legs as epaulettes isn't enough to keep people away -- three on each shoulder -- they're also roboticised. They're connected to proximity sensors, linked by way of Intel's Edison chip, as well as a respiration sensor. When these sensors notice the wearer's respiration heightening, and the looming proximity of another person, the legs react.

Video gif by Michelle Starr/CNET

"Approach the wearer too aggressively and the mechanical limbs move up to an attack position," Wipprecht wrote. "Approach the system under calmer circumstance and the dress just might beckon you to come closer with smooth, suggestive gestures."

Along the sides of the bodice, black shells are embedded with LEDs resembling the eyes of a spider. When approach is sensed, these, too, react: flashing warning signs or glowing steadily in welcome.

This is the second of Wipprecht's creations to integrate Edison -- although we suspect her work with it is far from done.

"Connecting raw data driven in real time by wireless bio signals was never before that accessible for me, since the micro controllers that I used were either low in processing power or big and bulky. This means they are hard to integrate into fashion," she said of her first Edison design, the Synapse dress.

"Edison allows me to integrate a super small piece of technology which can quickly compute complicated sets of signals, on-board storage and interconnect wirelessly to a lot of input data at once in a more advanced and intelligent way, to run my designs."

The Spider Dress will make its debut at CES 2015, so if you're headed that way, keep an eye out for its spindly, skeletal legs.