RESHAPE19 | Cognified matter
Wearable technology category

Designer: Yin Yu



I. Introduction
airMorphologies is a voice control pneumatic wearable device for people living in an air-polluted environment. airMorphologies provides soft and elastic material with a modular approach designed for diverse needs. The goal is to rethink the future of human body shape and the social space around us.
The toxicology of breathing Air pollution is a problem for much of the developing world and is believed to kill more people worldwide than AIDS, malaria, breast cancer, or tuberculosis ¹¯⁴. In China, air pollution was previously estimated to contribute to 1.2 to 2 million deaths annually²¯⁴. In 2012, China adopted the Ambient Air Quality Standard⁵, and began development of a national Air Reporting System that now includes 945 sites in 190 cities. Chinese residents now have access to air quality information and can take measures to protect themselves in the short term⁶.

Body architecture and its social behavior Wearing a mask has changed the way we communicate with others. A mask can attach to the human face seamlessly to avoid airborne particulate matter that comes in between the gap of the skin and the mask.
However, most masks are evaluated based on their filtration rather than personalization and ergonomics. As part of the wearing outfit for residents, masks also influence humans’ facial expressions and socialinteraction in our daily life. How to design a wearable device that not only provides a customized multi- function mask but also allow the users to express themselves through their body?

II. Method
Pneumatic control system
The human voice controls the actuation of a soft wearable structure, changing the body’s appearance, and the social space around the user. In the image, the first prototype of the pneumatic control system is displayed in an acrylic box that houses all the electronics elements (a microcomputer, solenoid valves, and a pump). The system is designed as a model for interaction between two users. However, it can also be used by an independent single user. Future versions of this controlsystem will expand its portability.

Material Experiments
To create these inflatable structures, I designed and fabricated a mechanism using multiple layers of materials. A laser-cut transparent film sits between two silicon layers. This provides enough space for air to come in and fill the structure. A polyester layer provides extra strength for the bottom silicon layer, and helps to control the inflating direction.

Color studies
This project used Ecoflex soft silicone. I arrived to the right proportion of pigments and silicon after severaltests of colors and mixing rates.

Pattern studies
To design expressive shape-changing performative behaviors, I explored how different geometrical shapes would transform themselves by the presence and absence of airflow. Most of these geometry experiments were inspired by behaviors found in nature, such as animal skin. These prefabricated layers were designed with 3D printed molds using Rhinoceros 3D.

Five steps to fabricate airMorphologies. First, a 3D printer creates a physical mold from a digital file. Second, mixed silicone liquid is poured into the mold. Third, a laser cutter transparent film is placed over the first silicon layer. Fourth, another layer of mixed silicon liquid on the top of the film. Fifth, vinyl tubings to connect each silicon module.


III. Design
Early prototypes The first prototype used a single piece of a laser cut acrylic. It was used as a mold to shape the profile of a silicone piece. The benefit of using this acrylic sheet is its capability to fabricate large size pieces. This approach gives a seamless continuity object with a large pattern design and freedom.
Towards a modular approach For the final design, I decided to use a modular approach as the design method, because of its flexibility and low cost. A 3D printer can easily fabricate smaller molds with a high degree of detail. The silicon modules are then connected to each other using vinyl tubes. This type of connection allows the air to flow in any direction. Since it can be easily customized, we can design a wearable device that could be easily attached to different parts of the body or even an architectural space. In this scenario, our own bodies can connect to different environments in new modalities.