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Anti-NIS Accessories

Wearables to thwart neuro-imaging surveillance.

14 gennaio 2014

Area: Design

The paradigm of clothing as protector and concealer is slowly shifting: increasingly, our bodies are becoming more and more public, while new forms of neuroimaging technology are developing that may one day allow for surveillance and interception of the contents of our minds. Neuro-Imaging Surveillance (NIS) is a concept about the next generation of camera surveillance and biometric identification tracking, which could scan for suspicious thought patterns in the minds of the public.
Can the purpose of clothing be expanded to serve a hybrid purpose: acting as an expressive covering of the body, and also maintaining privacy of things like emotions, intelligence, and even more specific “brain data”?

Fabrica’s researchers Lisa Kori Chung and Caitlin Morris started from this question and developed Anti-NIS Accessories, a series of proposed objects designed as a form of clothing that maintains privacy of thought and action. Rather than simply blocking access to the brain, which would require unsubtle and complex equipment, each piece proposes a method of momentary cognitive diversion. When a scan is detected, the accessories provoke a sensory reaction that will demand the wearer’s attention, changing their current brain activity patterns and affording a moment of privacy through camouflage. The objects include a hat that transmits sound pulses through bone conduction, a collar that gives a gentle electric shock on the skin and a mask that distracts the user with flashing lights. The three prototypes, crafted out of laser-cut felt and wood, were commissioned by the Wearable Futures festival (Ravensbourne, London, UK), two days of talks, debates and discussions about the future of wearables, from smart material to new technologies. They were featured in the Futures 10 exhibition, where Fabrica was chosen as one of ten studios whose vision could shape the future of wearable technology.

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