Skinny’s Jeans is a fun hardware hack – trousers that dance with cultural activity, created at Culture Hack Scotland 2012.
Data used: a slice of the events listings data from The Skinny.
What was ace about your hack?
Skinny’s Jeans was a very playful hack. In our studio we always like to have a strong element of fun to our designs. It simply makes the products fun, interesting and most importantly engaging.
Tell us the starting point for your hack?
To begin with we always like to come up with as many ideas as possible. Our studio normally uses a method that we are developing called ’100 ideas’. This basically means at the start of any project the team comes up with 100 ideas, helping us to really explore the area that we are working in. Obviously for Skinny’s Jeans time was against us (as well as going mad due to lack of sleep) so we generated roughly 50 ideas that we could have gone ahead with.
What information or prior knowledge did you have about the arts organisation and the data set and did it influence your approach?
We as a team wanted to try and keep to the true essence of a hack-a-thon and go in with no prior knowledge of what we were going to do. As a team of product designers we thought that the Skinny’s data set was both interesting and extensive and saw lots of potential to create fun products around. We had all obviously heard of the Skinny and knew that creating a playful product would fit nicely with their identity.
What tech/programming languages/platforms did you use and how does the hack work?
The brains behind Skinny’s Jeans was an Arduino micro-controller, and the muscle, a servo motor. If the prototype ran from live data it would be quite boring to watch as it’s dancing pattern would not change, so we decided to program in a full days worth of data to run over the space of five minutes. This allowed everyone to see how the Skinny’s Jeans would dance through the space of 24 hours.
Describe the process of development and your team dynamic.
Our team was four strong, and at the beginning we were unsure about which data set to use. We spent some time chatting to other hackers about the data sets and found that we were most interested in the Skinny’s data and the Trackman data, so generated ideas around both. In the end we split into two groups and created a prototype for each data set, with Roy and I working on Skinny’s Jeans and Tom and Jack working on the Trackman installation. From then on it was your fairly typical seat-of-the-pants problem solving approach, with more and more bits of the design that just weren’t working getting excised as the deadline approached! Being physical hacks, there were the old laws of physics to consider, as well as what tools and materials we could gather.
Any developments following CHSCOT?
Roy proudly has The Skinny’s Jeans mounted in his studio to remind him of the glorious night that was CHSCOT. We are still awaiting a reply to our tweet to Levi’s, but we presume they loved it.
What was your Culture Hack Scotland highlight or light bulb moment?
Just before we arrived at CHSCOT we did a spot of shopping, I bought myself the nicest jeans I own and I wanted to show them off somehow…… There was a moment of absurd realisation at breakfast on Saturday when we realised we were now committed to making a pair of dancing jeans.
Also Jonnie Common’s hacked sound performance was amazing!
You also developed the Trackman Installation, can you give a few details about that too?
We felt the Trackman Installation was a great piece of curios. It was an interactive, discrete installation that was as much about the appropriate use of the physical space of Society M as it was about the Trackman content or the interaction with that content. The most appropriate place for the installation was at the end of one of the tables within the CHSCOT space. As you approached the table, text from the Trackman book would slowly appear line by line, via projection on the table in front of you. We wondered if by isolating this text, the audience engaging with the installation would reflect on the text differently and whether additional meaning could be drawn from it.