Flutter was created by Halley Profita, Nicholas Farrow, and Professor Nikolaus Correll at the University of Colorado – Boulder. An extraordinary fusing of textiles and robotics, Flutter received First Prize for both Best in Show and Most Inclusive and Usable Design at the 2012 International Symposium on Wearable Computer Design Exhibition in Newcastle, England.

Inspired to aid individuals with hearing impairments, Flutter administers vibrotactile feedback in the direction of a loud sound or alarm to help those with hearing loss respond more intuitively to their external environment. Flutter was conceived of as an alternative form of assistive technology by producing an ethereal and functional garment that calls attention to the beauty of the device – not the disability.

Flutter’s bodice is constructed using cotton and polyester textiles and an inner framework of embedded microphones that network together to determine the frequencies and their amplitude of incoming sounds.  The microphones collectively vote on the direction of the sound and, in turn, actuate small vibration motors in the winglets to simulate ‘fluttering’ in the direction of the auditory cue. 

Paper Citation:

Halley P Profita, Nicholas Farrow, and Nikolaus Correll. “Flutter: An exploration of an assistive garment using distributed sensing, computation and actuation.” Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction (TEI). ACM, 2015.