by Jasmin Malik Chua
Dec 3, 2009
The past and future collide with composer Miya Masaoka’s LED Kimono, a high-tech garment that cuts a time-honored silhouette. But the kimono, which has 444 individually controlled LEDs embroidered along the voluminous length of one sleeve, isn’t just a flashy fashion statement—it’s also an interactive light-and-sound instrument that responds to sound and movement.
Depending on the pitch of the accompanying music, or the angle and rate of motion of the sleeve, the LEDs turn on and off to create a fluid light show. And here’s where it gets technical: The LEDs, which are connected with conductive thread to eight 9-volt batteries underneath the fabric, are driven by tiny Arduino processors that are sewn into pockets on each side. The processors, in turn, can be hooked up to a computer via Bluetooth wireless or USB.
“More than a dress, the LED kimono is an interactive light-and-sound instrument.”
Eventually, Masoaka plans on running LEDs throughout the entire kimono, an endeavor that will require more than 5,000 hand-sewn LEDs. If each point of light is considered a single pixel, the dress can function as a low-resolution video monitor that evolves with its environment.