Earthquake Skirt: The Glamorization of Disaster

For my final project I would like to construct a skirt whose movements are driven by near-real-time data of earthquakes around the globe.

The skirt would be programmed to grab, at preset intervals, global earthquake updates from the US Geological Survey Website. Through  USGS, earthquakes are broadcast within a few minutes for California events, and within 30-minutes for worldwide events. When there is an earthquake, the skirt would “rumble” by way of several small vibrators sewn into the inner fabric.  Red leds would flash and flicker as the skirt reacts to the earthquake.  The effects would be scaled to the magnitude of the earthquake (1.5 magnitude earthquake would set the vibration and LED activity to 15%, 7.0 magnitude earthquake would set the vibration and LED activity to 70%, etc.).  The fabric of the skirt would be light and airy so that the movement of the material would be noticeable.  Additionally, there would be a small LCD display attached to the garment that would print the magnitude and region of the earthquake.

Conceptually, this piece would illustrate what I am coining “the glamorization of disaster”.  This is the sensationalizing of natural disasters in mainstream media and conveying them with fleeting entertainment value rather than presenting them as the (ongoing) humanitarian crises that they are.  To turn devastating natural events such as earthquakes into a fashion piece is a simplification of this process in order to highlight the issue.

Parts:

  • Lilypad Arduino
  • Lilypad Xbee Shield
  • Lilypad Xbee Radio
  • LCD display
  • 6 vibrators
  • Red leds
  • Misc. electronic components
  • Software: Arduino, Processing

Some Wearable Tech Skirts:

Skirt Full of Stars

I like the design of this skirt

Skirt Full of Stars

Kinetic Mechanical Skirt

Stir It On

HearWear Skirt

Update(Sunday): I plan to make this skirt more like it’s made of debris, rather than my initial idea to have it some kind of fabric. “Much of the debris generated from earthquake is not hazardous. Soil, building material, and green waste, such as trees and shrubs, make up most of the volume of earthquake debris.”

It will mostly be building materials such as metal and wood. I need to be conscious of the weight of the materials in relation to the strength of the motors, as well as how they will sound when rumbled.  For this reason, I plan to use more metals than woods in the skirt.

Also, found the vibrating motors I need; at $2/each I’m pretty happy.

Update(Monday): I’ve been looking at photos of debris.  It always strikes me how debris, though composed of many things, often seems to be full of long sticks, as though the earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, etc. completely shredded these buildings.

Debris contains lots of long objects.

Workplan

Skirt Materials

–       visit scrap yard, metal shop at school

–       check Freecycle and dumpster behind my place for wood/tin scraps

–       test materials (tin, light wood, fabrics)

Skirt Construction

–       make vibrating motors (attach a weight to offset motor; encapsulate motor)

–       build the circuit

–       sew inner layer of skirt (infrastructure)

Code and Circuit

The preliminary code currently pulls latest earthquake data from USGS.gov website.

– Correlate motor activity levels to earthquake data (actuate).

– Add a “test” switch for demo purposes (variable magnitude).

This Week’s Workplan

Saturday:

–       test motors, dirty circuit

Sunday:

–       Explore materials for construction of skirt (tins, woods)

–       Visit scrap yard, metal shop, look for street garbage

Monday:

–       Code integration

–       Test swatch of materials against motors

–       Prepare documentation for Tuesday

Tuesday:

–       present prototype

Wednesday – Monday:

Construct, test and refine.

Preliminary Code (PROCESSING):

Code by schien@mail.ncku.edu.tw (2009-04-26)

and adapted by Erin Lewis, March 2011.

import processing.serial.*;
//import cc.arduino.*;

//Arduino arduino;

//Serial myPort;
String serialString;

void setup() {
size(100,100);
background(0);
loadData();
}

String URL = “http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/catalogs/eqs1hour-M1.txt”;
String[] data;
EarthquakeData[] myArray;

class EarthquakeData {
float name = 0;
float date = 0;
float latitude = 0;
float longitude = 0;
float magnitude = 0;
float depth = 0;
float nst = 0;
String region = ” “;
}

void draw() {
//  println(myArray[i].date+”,”+myArray[i].time+”,”+myArray[i].latitude+”,”+myArray[i].longitude+”,”+myArray[i].magnitude+”,”myArray[i].depth”,”+myArray[i].nst+”,”+myArray[i].region+”:”);
}

void loadData() {
data = loadStrings(URL);
println(data);
println(data.length);

myArray = new EarthquakeData[data.length];

for (int i=0; i<data.length; i++) {
myArray[i] = new EarthquakeData();
String[] noaaEarthquakeData = data[i].split(“,”);
println(noaaEarthquakeData);
if (noaaEarthquakeData.length == 8) {
//  myArray[i].date = noaaEarthquakeData[0];
//  myArray[i].time = float(noaaEarthquakeData[1]);
myArray[i].latitude = float(noaaEarthquakeData[2]);
myArray[i].longitude = float(noaaEarthquakeData[3]);
myArray[i].magnitude = float(noaaEarthquakeData[4]);
myArray[i].depth = float(noaaEarthquakeData[5]);
myArray[i].nst = float(noaaEarthquakeData[6]);
myArray[i].region = (noaaEarthquakeData[7]);
} else {
//  myArray[i].date = noaaEarthquakeData[0].replaceAll(“\””,””) + “,” + noaaEarthquakeData[1].replaceAll(“\””,””);
//  myArray[i].time = float(noaaEarthquakeData[1]);
myArray[i].latitude = float(noaaEarthquakeData[2]);
myArray[i].longitude = float(noaaEarthquakeData[3]);
myArray[i].magnitude = float(noaaEarthquakeData[4]);
myArray[i].depth = float(noaaEarthquakeData[5]);
myArray[i].nst = float(noaaEarthquakeData[6]);
myArray[i].region = (noaaEarthquakeData[7]);
}
}
}

Incoming Data Test (Processing Serial Monitor)

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