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MIT's new 'living' jewelry are creepy robot beetles for your clothes

MIT's new 'living' jewelry are creepy robot beetles for your clothes


Not fashion meets function yet

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Project Kino

Last year, MIT and Stanford debuted a new type of robot that could crawl over the surface of your clothing with the use of magnets. Now, it appears to have gone high fashion. It’s no longer a “rovable,” it’s Project Kino (kinetic wearables).

The small robots now house an array of colorful shields and will ideally serve both functional and aesthetic purposes. The video shows them moving about a dress as “shape changing jewelry,” its wheels leaving marks across velvet in what Project Kino calls “etching,” and a brooch moving up a garment to become a microphone.

“We’re thinking of wearables as a personal assistant. 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,” Project Kino team member Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao said in an interview with TechCrunch.

clunky robotic crawlies

Their current size is certainly a hindrance, and most of the applications seem to be ornamental. Sure, these might be cool in a runway presentation, but do we need clunky robotic crawlies to show off the next time we attend a dinner party? Even the future of these things, according to Kao, sounds shiver-worthy. Smaller, with a brain? (Internally screams.) Perhaps that’s why they’re currently teaming up with designers. As Kao tells TechCrunch, “a lot of people saw them as really creepy.”