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A dress that defends your personal space

Artist Kathleen McDermott makes a fashion statement and prevents physical contact with her Personal Space Dress.

No one will ever "accidentally" brush up against you thanks to the Personal Space Dress. Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

It's not easy getting personal space on a crowded subway train, but you might be able to gently shove strangers away with this Personal Space Dress created by artist Kathleen McDermott as part of her Urban Armor art series.

"The Personal Space Dress is a dress that uses an ultrasonic sensor to detect when someone, or something, is too close to it," McDermott writes on her website. "Then, it uses continuous rotation servo motors to expand the dress and protect your personal space."

The Personal Space Dress is made from an eclectic mix of materials, including an Arduino Uno microcontroller board, four continuous rotation servo motors, a battery pack that holds four AA, two ultrasonic distance sensors, a breadboard, Plexiglas, an umbrella, empty deodorant containers, wire, packing foam, mat board, Velcro, and dress fabric.

If you want to make your own Personal Space Dress, McDermott has a step-by-step tutorial on her website that explains everything from making the structure, to calibrating motors and draping the fabric.

"Urban Armor is an artwork consisting of a series of playful electronic wearables for women which investigate the ways women experience public space," McDermott writes on her video page. "These devices are, for the most part, not actually viable solutions for societal problems. However, they do provoke conversations, not only about social issues, but about the future of technology in our everyday lives."