Revisited: Critical Making Showcase

27 May, 2019

Revisited: Critical Making Showcase

Students in Eric Paulos's Critical Making course operationalize and critique the practice of making through both foundational literature and hands-on studio culture. As hybrid practitioners, students developed fluency in readily collaging and incorporating a variety of physical materials and protocols into their practice. With design research as a lens, they envision and create future computational experiences that critically explore social and culturally relevant technological themes.

This year, students were asked to design a new wearable within the landscape of cosmetic computing. That is, a new physical object (or collection of objects) that are body-worn. The in-class critique was May 7th with a public showcase at Jacobs on 9 May and a booth showcasing the work at the Bay Area Maker Faire 17–19 May 2019.

2019 Critical Making Showcase


Shreyas Bhayana, Eleni Oikonomaki, Lian Song, Bryan Truitt, Rashad Timmons​

Fashion has and continues to afford radical possibilities for thinking about embodiment and anonymity. This is especially important in our present context where the body is increasingly imagined and captured as profitable data. The mission of Collective Obscura is to craft dynamic garments and accessories that undermine systems of surveillance and identification. We firmly believe that fashion can simultaneously be aesthetically forward and technically subversive, and that sharing tools to create and design such apparel is a vital practice in the fight for privacy. Our motivations are driven by a desire to disrupt these systems of identification and tracking by mobilizing the material properties of different fabrics to achieve tactics of camouflage, obscurity and opacity. We emphasize the use of craft as a subversive tactic of embodied resistance against centralized, mechanistic surveillance.


Sonia Uppal, Bryanna Benicia, Xianxin Zhang, Soravis (Sun) Prakkamakul

The Toxic Tie is a speculative design piece intended to make a statement on misogyny in the workplace. It recognizes when misogynistic words or phrases are spoken and reacts by folding up and tapping the wearer on the face to inform the wearer that they need to check themselves and consider the impact of their words. Additionally, it rewards the wearer for saying something complimentary. We created the Toxic Tie as a way to take action on workplace sexism without people worrying about facing consequences for standing up and calling someone out. Our website allows women to input misogynistic phrases that they gave heard in the workplace to help train our tie to better react in these situations. We hope to empower and support women by showing them a a bulletin of all of the crowdsourced phrases that others have submitted to show that they’re not alone in this fight.


Aura Barrera, Lili Dai, Ivy Nguyen, Elnaz Tafrihi, Joshua Yuan

Jester is a wearable that allows the wearer to communicate to other wearers through gestures like crossing arms and arms behind head. Jesters are equipped with IMU sensors that output orientation data and gravitational vectors. Users can define mappings between gestures and meanings by repeatedly performing the gesture, which allows the Jester to train using machine learning. A few use cases include physical therapy progress tracking, spy communication, habit breaking, and secret gestures as passwords. This device is useful in situations where traditional communication through texting or talking is not possible.


Steffan Cross, Andrew Louie, Mimi Shalf, Hailey Windsor, and Meena Kaushik

Camofleur is an ecosystem of wearables—a ring, a necklace pendant, and a bracelet. Together they enable the wearer to subtly leave any uncomfortable or undesired social interaction. By placing the ring near the pendant, the wearer can trigger a phone call or text. They can customize the caller ID as well as the content of the text message through an app. By placing the ring near the bracelet, they can send a message to a companion bracelet to indicate that they need an interruption. Whether it’s receiving a text or call, or buzzing a friend, the wearer can have peace of mind that they always have an exit plan.


Annalise Kamegawa, James Smith, Melissa Su, Janaki Vivrekar

BiBO is a dynamic, responsive compression band for competitive athletes in training. With context-aware modes of sensing an athlete’s heartbeat, BiBO equips the wearer with an automated regulator for real-time muscle recovery. Upon detecting a relaxed pulse, BiBO automatically activates a gradual compression on the athlete’s arm, to help modulate blood circulation and reduce inflammation. With BiBO, athletes can engage in rigorous workout sessions without having to break the fluidity of their routines to benefit from compression therapy. Breathe in, breathe out, and let BiBO do the rest!


Nick Doerschlag, Conner Hunihan, Shirley Wang, and Debbie Yuen

Together connects caretakers of people with severe autism directly to external support networks such as doctors, school teachers, and parents. This information can help create a stronger understanding of the wellbeing of the person with autism and make keeping track of information such as bathroom breaks, meals, and emotional behaviors easy and predictive. This system fits into a convenient wearable that keeps loved ones updated with real-time data, whenever and wherever.


Arnold, Jessie, Jeremy, Angela, Franky​

Spectalkulars are glasses that connect users in real life and helps guide them through conversations. An accompanying mobile app allows users to input their interests and find other people nearby to talk to. Based on the number of common interests and proximity, Spectalkulars will select the best person nearby to talk to and help guide users step-by-step through the conversation. Starting and continuing a conversation with someone has never been easier with Spectalkulars!


Fang Fang, Patrick Lai, Yani Mai, Oliver Moldow, Tonya Nguyen

With greater pressure to perform and the popularity of social media, life has become increasingly stressful. Modern times have seen rampant rises in cases of anxiety and depression. In response, we created, a wearable device to ground users during stressful times. Designed to combat panic attacks for people with anxiety, provides on demand and discrete support. When the user feels overwhelmed, they can simply turn’s dial. The band contracts and expands around the wrist, providing a calming breathing pattern. This pattern is paired with LED lights for visual indication, and can be made faster or slower as needed by adjusting the dial.’s interaction focuses your attention on your body, calming your mind, all without announcing your panic attack to the world.