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Project Kino Is "Living" Jewelry That Moves Around Your Body Like An Insect

Stationary jewelry is so last season. The future of fashion is all about "living" jewelry. Maybe. The MIT-borne Project Kino wasn't necessarily made for haute couture purposes and it isn't yet runway-ready, but we're picturing Naomi Campbell rockin' it regardless.

Kino robot mechanical structure.
Climate reactive clothing application: upon detecting an increase in temperature, the devices move downwards to unfold the hood.

You've Got Something On Your Shoulder

In June 2017, the MIT Media lab debuted Project Kino, "living" jewelry that roams around unmodified clothing like a curious insect. The kinetic wearable, which is a lemon-sized thing that resembles an origami beetle, is basically a miniaturized robot that uses magnets to navigate around your clothes.

While zooming around, the bots can even perform "etching," which leaves behind a visible design on your clothing as a trail. Comme des Garçons fall/winter 2017 couture collection, anyone? The MIT team is hoping these Lilliputian bots will push forward "a new on-body ecology for human-wearable symbiosis." Pair these with Shiftwear animated sneakers, the Chairless chair exoskeleton, and the Ripple smart accessory and you're practically a cyborg.

Fashion Over Function?

So far, the function of Kino sits squarely on the decorative side, but that's not the final destination. "We're thinking of wearables as a personal assistant," team member Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao told TechCrunch. "We think in the future, when they can have a brain of their own, they can learn your habits, learn your professional style, and when they get smaller, they can blend into the things you wear."

The team is looking for Kino to become something of a little robot helper creeping around your collar bones. The goal is for Kino to feel out your surroundings and respond accordingly. Need a microphone? Incoming call? Kino may soon shimmy up toward your mouth for you to chat. It could also make its way down near your wrist to deliver haptic feedback, or even tug strings to fling your hood on if it senses rain. Until the team can work the kinks out, it still may come off as "really creepy," says Hsin-Liu.

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Written by Joanie Faletto August 14, 2017

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