FEBRUARY 14 - 19, 2021

ONLINE, Anywhere on Earth

Cyborg Crafts: Second SKIN (Soft Keen INteraction)

Suyun “Sandra” Bae and Mary Etta West

Image of the Swatches applied an a human arm: four blobs on an arm and the other hand manipulating one of the blobs


Traditional handcraft and modern cyborg culture share a common goal: democratize creation through demonstrations and education. Cyborg Crafts blends techniques from the fiber arts with cyborg-inspired technologies (e.g., open-source biosensing EEG headsets and RFID implants). Second SKIN (Soft Keen INteraction), intended to support this practice, is a handmade collection of four modular soft wearable sensors with a temperature-dependent dynamic display. Each sensor has unique sensor-specific outer shell textures based on non-woven textile techniques, and each supports a different sense: momentary switch, pressure sensor, pinch sensor, and a gesture-detecting, capacitive touch sensor. The interactions of pressing, pinching, and touching are encouraged by sensor-specific extruded designs lending to finger placement. The outer shell textures are made from a mixture of flaxseed mucilage and silicone rubber. Thermochromic pigment additives endow display functionality to these passive devices through the application of heat in excess of 86◦F.


Ecoflex 00-30, 00-35 (Part A and Part B), whole grain flaxseed, Uniglow coffee-to-green and red-to-yellow thermochromic pigment, stainless steel conductive fiber, 30 AWG copper wire, PLA filament.


3D printer, felting needles, foam pad, paint palette, mixing cup, squeeze bottles, stir sticks, multimeter, wire stripper, cheese cloth, food scale.

Schematic Overview - momentary switch, pressure sensor, pinch sensor, capacitive touch sensor






The raw aesthetics and materiality of this swatch are very evocative and provocative as they look like a fake, second skin. The mix of materials and approaches are clear and easy to follow yet innovative and unexpected. The accessible use and explanation of the biomaterial and additive construction of the fabric sensors adds an important sustainability angle, without it needing to be overt. Also the modularity of the electronics components. The design logic used is a well-considered format to be further developed.

This swatch was awarded the CRAFT AWARD for it’s well crafted visual effect which sets it apart from similar skin-like designs. The final sensors are indeed uncanny, yet a notable balance of playfulness offsets the often creepy nature of silicone skin, to make them compelling.