Speculative Design - 3 months
In a world where physical ability enhancements through mechanics have become the norm, how far will one go to look beautiful? What does it mean to be attractive? We idolize people who are 'strong' when it comes to dieting, fitness, makeup, and more. As this kind of biotechnology becomes more readily available, where do we draw the line?
Utilizing the mechanics of a TENS(transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machine, Aestron molds the user’s face to their most pleasant visage. With different price points, the user can control the expression that they are making with an additional mood adjustment ring.
Take a current technological trend and extrapolate it into a future world where it has become the norm. Narrate what that world would look like and design a working/functioning product that would exist in that future context.
For this class, we needed to create a working prototype. As a result, the ideation phase for Aestron prioritized:
Conductive textiles were combined with ultrasound gel in replacement of standard electrode pads.
As this would be a mass consumer product, it must be able to mold to a variety of face size and shapes.
It had to appear to be a piece of luxury/quality jewelry rather than a medical product.
I conducted research around how to best alter one’s facial expression. Pathways such as electroaccupuncture, servo motors + tape, and more were considered. Upon discovery of a TENS machine, I looked into ways to rework the existing gel pad. After looking into the patents for the gel pad, I realized that only a conductive gel + conductive fabric was necessary. By hacking a TENS machine, it was easy to control the on/off of the shocks.
The set up allowed for a total of 8 electrodes. The placement of the electrodes on the face caused differe facial expressions per the muscle that was triggered. As a result, I chose to do two sets of expressions.
The most difficult part, was designing a mask that would stand alone. I pulled a lot of inspiration from traditional Beijing Opera masks as well as Harajuku street fashion, as those place a lot of emphasis on expression. Initial designs were too clinical and reminded users of medical technology. The second set utilized Venetian masks as a base, but this actually resulted in a more covered visage.
After some material research, I settled on a sleek black leather look that used wiring to mold the soft textiles. Additional jump rings and chains were added to further the look of jewelry.
The final presentation was to be done in an exhibition format. In order to fully convey this world and idea, I focused on where and how a consumer would be interacting with an Aestron pin - a retail shop. The pin was modeled on a clean white bust, with a price tag attached.
Additionally, the concept video shown above was on display in order for passerbys to see the pins in action. For the visitors who were interested and willing, I helped them wear the jewelry in order to experience the shock.For a more in depth look at my process, check out my exchange program tumblr.
Other future applications for those with nerve damage to be able to have an acceptable/non-stereotypical face wearable that allows them to change their facial expressions by choice.
Design Academy Eindhoven - Science Friction
Minor Programme - Fall 2018