Unlike migrating birds, humans don't use magnetic sensing to navigate through the world. Instead, people rely on the sun (or, more commonly, their maps app) to get their bearings. Designer Birce Özkan wants to change that. The New York-based artist created an Augmented Jacket, a garment that features feathers that move up and down when the wearer is headed north.
Through technology, the Augmented Jacket mimics birds' innate sense of direction. The feathers on the coat's collar and shoulders are attached to a servo motor. When an electronic compass—also inside the apparel—detects that the coat is heading north, those motors begin to spin, allowing the feathers to twitch. The effect is similar to a bird flapping its wings.
Why north? "During my research, I found that when humans lose their way, the easiest way to reorient themselves is to face north and visualize the map," Özkan told Dezeen. Still, it isn't entirely practical. Knowing that you're going north is only helpful if you can also pinpoint the other three directions and the points in between.
But Özkan created the jacket to be more than a functional tech garment. It's also a work of art with a message. "The piece serves as a metaphor, which highlights a method of appropriation where the human nature is enhanced through the process of bio-mimicry," Özkan says.
Birce Özkan on Vimeo
FastCoDesign, Özkan also created a matching skirt with the same embedded tech as the jacket. Eventually, she plans to update both pieces so that they are integrated with Google Maps and can act as turn signals. To learn more about the project and the designer's other work, visit Özkan's website and check out the video above.
Images via Vimeo