Elegant Evening Dress Sports Servo-Actuated Flowers

A milled PCB next to a woman wearing a dress that includes it

There’s been plenty of research into “smart fabrics”, and we’ve seen several projects involving items of clothing with electronics integrated inside. These typically include sensors and simple actuators like LEDS, but there’s no reason you can’t integrate moving electromechanical systems as well. [Rehana Al-Soltane] did just that: she made an elegant evening dress with flowers that open and close on command.

It took [Rehana] a bit of experimentation to figure out a floral design that opens and closes smoothly without crumpling the fabric or requiring excessive force to actuate. She finally settled on a plastic sheet sandwiched between two layers of fabric, with pieces of fishing line attached that pull the edges inward. The lines are guided through a tube down the back of the dress, where a servo pulls or releases them.

The mechanical flower can be operated by touch — [Rehana] made one of the other flowers conductive by embedding copper tape between its petals and connected it to the capacitive touch sensor interface of an Atmel microcontroller. The micro is sitting on a custom PCB that’s worn on the hip, with wires going to the servo at the back. You can see how the system operates in the video embedded below.

The dress is [Rehana]’s final project for the famous “How To Make (almost) Anything” course at MIT, and required a wide variety of skills: the cable guide was 3D printed, the flower petals were laser cut, the PCB was milled, and the end product was sewn together. [Rehana] has a knack for making electronics-infused clothes and accessories, including the flexible PCB crown that she’s wearing in the image above.

13 thoughts on “Elegant Evening Dress Sports Servo-Actuated Flowers

  1. Wow! Well done, a very creative application of simple things, executed brilliantly!

    It appears to me that men really lack behind in integration of tech with certain fields, especially clothing, emotion, and body sensational interactions.

  2. I think this is great. Perhaps adding sensors to synchronise the flower motion with breathing and touch sensors to make the flowers close rapidly and open slowly again would add to the overall effect.

      1. I also think that the sound of the actuators are kind of a no go. But…. The Visual effect is incredible, specifically if you want to trigger something with regard to emotion. Ok – I think it might be possible to dampen the sound by a slower and smoother control of the motor or servo, the sound may be less annoying. In combination with some kind of “introductory sound” like ” Hi its so wunderful to see you” it may be possible to completely mask it
        I also remember a post where someone used a memory metal ( Nitiniol) wire that could move a braid by current.
        There were also some recent Hack a day Posts about that Material.

        1. I believe an In person Evaluation is required to check the validity of the servo motor complaints.. Electronic Mics make mechanical noises sound worse than they really are.

          I think this is a GREAT Concept.. Thank you for Making these..


  3. I really like the idea. It looks creepy, though. I can’t help but thinking about 70th horror movies.

    Regarding touch sensitivity: I think the intention isn’t being touched at chest height by other people playing with the dress.

  4. This is really awesome. Great design aside from a little servo noise. The next step would be to add a scent that would be emitted every time the flower open. I would add the optional water spray…. Hey.. come close and smell my flower 😀.

  5. Y’all in the comments remarking about the sound of the servo need a chill pill. Since when was this “polished and ready to market-a-day”? This dress is awesome and it’s a fantastic hack! We do not see enough clothing hacks in the world so let’s celebrate this for what it is which is just as cool as anything else seen on here!

    Great job!!!

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