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New in fashion: a 3D-printed cape that lets you know if someone’s staring at you

Do you feel like you’re always being watched? Well, there’s now a weird-looking solution that will let you know for sure.

Behnaz Farahi is a cyborg-obsessed architect who has created a 3D-printed cape that warns you if you’re being watched.

“I’ve been reading a lot of British philosopher Andy Clark, and his theories about how we have already become cyborgs. Our iPads, our iPhones, our laptops have already made us cyborgs. I’m interested to explore that further,” states Farahi.

Caress of the Gaze, Fahari’s latest project, is a 3D-printed animatronic garment that resembles a cape and detects not only when but where you’re being stared at, and it moves in response to let you know.

“Caress of the Gaze refers to the haptic quality of our gaze. It’s taking something from invisible to visible,” says Farahi, who’s a University of Southern California PhD candidate. “The idea for this project was really to create a garment that becomes an extension of our actual skin.”

Both the concept and the actual, physical garment are hard to envision and imagine. So, how does it work?

The garment is covered in spines that resemble quills of a porcupine, though it was modeled after fish and snake scales. When someone’s staring at you, it’s detected by a camera lens that’s smaller than 3 millimeters. A computer algorithm then calculates and maps exactly where they’re looking, and spines attached to that spot sway and stiffen. The movement is modeled after the way goosebumps appear on skin.

“It’s really exploring the logic of our skin. Our skin is constantly in motion: it expands, contracts, and changes its shape based on various stimuli–temperature, moisture, or even feelings such as excitement or anger.”

Farahi’s inspiration for creating this is simple: “Sometimes the gaze can be invasive, sometimes it can be soothing and reassuring. I’m interested in the roles it can play.”

Caress of the Gaze has attracted tons of attention from all sorts of industries, including technology, fashion, and news publications, based on its engineering, coding, fashion design, and critical thinking. It’s being branded as something that reacts to the eye and something that can tell if and when someone is checking you out. It’s said to be way cooler than a hookup app.

“In a way, my story is the same. Am I an architect or am I a designer? Am I a fashion designer, or am I a kinetic artist? It’s an open story. You’re waiting for the audience to write the ending for themselves,” says Farahi.

Though she says she realizes there’s a long ways to go before she gets her project to this point, Farahi states that going forward, she would like to add recognition technology that would help define the gazer’s age and gender. She hopes that the possibility of future developments and growth opportunities will continue the conversation of advanced wearables.

“How can our clothing or fashion items become an interface with the world around us? What kind of scenarios are there for the future of fashion? We need to think about how this sort of technology is changing our notions of our bodies and our notions of ourselves.”

Though Caress of the Gaze has been described as “both anti-ogling armor and wearable Tinder,” there’s a very strong possibility that most of the stares a wearer will get while sporting this new garment will be attributed to the absurdness of its look and its unconventional statement as a piece of fashion.

About Alyssa Knoop

Alyssa Knoop
Alyssa is a Communications student from Edmonton, Alberta. Her biggest passions are reading, writing, music, and oxford commas.