Life Dress Plays Game Of Life

The Life Dress, created by Elizabeth Fuller, consists of a set of LED panels that can be programmed to play the Game of Life. The squares of plastic material are at least partly translucent when not lit, which reminds me of something that Philip K. Dick thought about.

(Life Dress)

It is a challenge to find the right interactive balance within groups of people. We can be overwhelmed if we stretch ourselves too thin. Yet, we have a fundamental need for interaction just to survive.

This is reflected in the life and death cycles of LEDs on the Life Dress. Conforming to the rules developed in Conway’s Game of Life, LEDs turn on if the cells they represent are “alive” or off if the cells are “dead.” Whether a cell is born, survives, or dies is determined by the condition of other cells. A lone cell cannot survive by itself. Similarly, too many companions can overwhelm a cell. Thus, this algorithm expresses the interdependence of individuals.

The dress is a simple, mid length, layered piece. Remaining reminiscent of the grid form of Conway's Game of Life, this dress is a two-dimensional square grid of LEDs wrapped around the body, creating a fitted dress. The light of the LEDs is diffused by tiles of dragon skin that the LEDs are embedded in.

Furthermore, the dress has the potential to run a variety of algorithms loaded onto the Arduino microcontroller. Each LED is individually turned on and off through the microcontroller and a series of LED drivers. Thus, the dress could be programmed write messages, create images, or interact with external sensors.

(Life Dress waist and cell closeup)

At its most basic, this dress reminds me of the plastirobe from Philip K. Dicks's 1954 novel Sales Pitch:

She leaped to her feet. "Let's go out tonight and celebrate. Okay?" Her slim fingers fumbled at the zipper of her shorts. "I'll put on my new plastirobe, the one I've never had nerve enough to wear."

Her eyes sparkled with excitement as she hurried into the bedroom. ""You know the one I mean? When you're up close it's translucent but as you get farther of it becomes more and more sheer until -"

Guys who prefer that women wear dresses that are more interactive (not to mention women who prefer a bit more interaction) might enjoy the Pong Dress.

From Life Dress and NYU Winter Show via Gizmodo.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/21/2009)

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