augmented facemask

A facemask that reacts to your surroundings, in this case proximity, emphasizing personal space and public interaction.

This was a project I conceived of and executed in Beijing, China in June of 2009. Green, yellow, and red LEDs indicate safe, medium, and dangerous levels of closeness that someone or something is to you. An Arduino and infrared range finder were embedded into a jacket, and worn around the city. The project was inspired by public interaction in China. Crowds on Chinese streets have no concept of personal space, and this extends even to the traffic in the street. Displaying colored light with inherent meaning on the face created a rather jarring effect, and attracted many stares in public. Facemasks are very common in China, particularly in cities, and for various reasons. Pollution, dust, and disease (we were there during the height of the H1N1 scare) are all reasons why wearing one is a good idea in public. I developed concepts for separate masks that are sensitive to each of these environmental variables, however with the technology on hand created one displaying personal space measurements.


Featured in the Parsons School for Design Re:D Design Magazine, January 2010.

More images in my Flickr set.