EmPowered is a wearable experience that explores how design and technology can facilitate conversations about consent and empowerment. The dress is relatively simple in design but is equipped with electronics that give its wearer explicit agency over their own undressing. By combining subtle human gesture with embedded electronic sensors, EmPowered acts as a tool to give (or not give) explicit consent.
Part of “unlocking” the dress invites the wearer to assume a stance commonly referred to as the power pose: by placing one’s hand on the hip where a button is embedded in the built-in belt. The wearer fully steps into the act of giving consent. Once the wearer decides to press the button, a fingerprint sensor is activated to confirm their identity, which is pre-programmed to recognize the wearer. Once the correct identity has been established, the sensor breaks the current to an electromagnetic closure at the left shoulder strap. By breaking the current, the magnet closure opens, releasing the shoulder strap, letting the left side of the dress fall open, revealing the wearer’s chest.
EmPowered, dress that unlocks a shoulder strap when the wearer takes on a power pose.
How it works
EmPowered is designed to work for a specific wearer. The dress is programmed to the wearer’s fingerprint so only that wearer can reveal themselves. The garment comes undone by an electromagnet at the shoulder. On the top piece of the shoulder is the electromagnet while the bottom has a piece of metal. When the electromagnet is powered, there is a magnetic attraction between the piece of metal and the magnet, creating a connection between the back and the front of the shoulder. When the specific wearer scans their finger, this releases the pull from the electromagnet, and thus the garment comes undone. To alert the wearer of the dress coming undone a tiny pager motor vibrates against their skin. The main components inside the garment are an electromagnet, finger scanner, push button, pager motor, and pro trinket. Everything is programmed with Arduino code.
When the pushbutton is pressed a blue light turns on activating the finger scanner.
The finger scanner is activated, and the wearer scans their finger releasing the pull of the electromagnet.
Collaborator: Emmeline Franklin from Rhode Island School of Design.