A wearable can do more than track your heart rate or notify you when you get a text message. Researchers at the MIT Media Lab are working on a new type of wearable that could revolutionize the way we think about fashion. As TechCrunch reports, Project Kino [PDF] is “living jewelry” that interacts with the wearer’s outfit.
The concept was inspired by the bejeweled beetles worn as ornamentation in certain cultures. With their creepy-crawly movements, the jewelry robots are definitely bug-like, and the researchers don’t want the device’s resemblance to living things to stop there.
“With the addition of kinetic capabilities, traditionally static jewelry and accessories will start displaying life-like qualities, learning, shifting, and reconfiguring to the needs and preferences of the wearer, also assisting in fluid presentation of self,” the project description reads.
The invention’s primary function is aesthetic. As they scoot along the body, robots can change the shapes and patterns of a clothing item. There’s also potential for more practical applications, like pulling down a hood in reaction to the weather or bringing a receiver to the wearer's mouth when they want to answer a phone call.
Down the road, researchers hope to develop a product that’s self-charging and small enough to seamlessly blend into a garment. You can watch their current prototype at work below.