Clothing is a terrible oversimplification of the person inside of it, whether someone wears the hautest couture or budget denim from Farm & Fleet. There are 86 billion neurons in the human brain, after all.
But what if your clothing were a direct reflection on yourself? What if it could literally visualize what you were thinking? That’s the idea of the Pangolin Scales Project, a new brain-reading dress by Dutch fashion designer Anouk Wipprecht, with support from the Institute for Integrated Circuits at JKU and G.tec medical engineering.
Wipprecht is known for creating future-forward fashion. She has built everything from dresses that poke spidery arms at unwanted advances to clothing that turns transparent when its wearer is aroused. A unifying theme of her work is that she often uses clothing to signal unconscious intent.
Her Pangolin dress, which takes inspiration from the animal it’s named after, is no different in this regard. A total of 1,024 brain-reading EEG sensors are placed on someone’s head to measure the electrical activity inside their brain. These sensors have a faceted design that resembles the keratin scales of a pangolin.
As the sensors read brain waves in real time, the dress translates that information into dynamic motion and patterns of light that play out across the canvas of someone’s body. It’s not a message that you can understand just by looking at it. You won’t suddenly know if someone is hungry or thinking of their favorite book just because they’re wearing this dress. But it’s still a captivating visualization of the innermost working of someone’s mind, as well as a proof point: Maybe one day, you really will be able to judge a book by its cover, because that cover will say it all.