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Hybrid Body Craft

Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao

“I consider myself a crafts person. I use the human body as an interface.”


  • Born and raised in Taiwan. Has a vibrant street culture, people frequently change their look.

  • Moved to Boston to pursue wearable computing degree, but missed the nail art of Taiwan

  • Created NailO, finger art as input device

  • NailO pairs wirelessly

  • Future wearables is blurring the boundaries b/w tech and self

  • Do we still have control over our own bodies?

  • Cosmetics like hair extensions are seamless but easily removable

  • NailO had to be minimal, unobtrusive, afford natural interactions, and stylish. Fingernails are a hard surface, dexterous

  • First prototype focused on input

  • Second prototype focused on refining aesthetic

  • Third prototype incorporated a flexible circuit to accommodate the natural curves of the human body

Software algorithm:

  • mask smoothing
  • gesture detections tracks up/down, left/right, and press actions

User studies of alternative gestures: different fingers, multi-finger. Achieved 92% accuracy

Use cases: act a as third hand. Private, subtle.

  • applications include, remote control while your hands are both busy: while soldering, scroll the screen of a laptop, or similar in the kitchen while cooking
  • in a meeting, could use it to control the display of an AR headset
  • wearables: linked to devices on your body to control them


“Your style is your visual interface with the rest of the world.”

  • Fascinated by body art/modifications and following body mod trends
    • was reading about temporary tattoos in Vogue
    • bought some to test if they were conductive
    • decided to make her own that were conductive

Result was DuoSkin

Fabrication process:

  • Enabled by gold metal leaf (copper + zinc) met the requirements: conductive, aesthetic, skin-friendly, affordable/accessible
  • Layered silicone overlay, then gold leaf, the electronics, then adhesive
    1. Create design
    2. Send to cheap electronic paper cutter
    3. Remove with stencil
    4. Apply conductive material
    5. Apply to skin

Potential DuoSkin Applications:

  • Device input: capacitive touch sensing (button, discrete slider, continuous slider, 2D pad)
  • Output display: Skin as a display with the addition of a thermochromic material layer
    • thermochromic material changes colour when exposed to heat enabling a rudimentary display
    • more magical and aesthetically pleasing than on/off LED
    • changes color depending on mood
  • Wireless communication as an NFC tag


-Gold leaf durability study a. Procedure: 5 participants (4 female) b. Task: create a capacitive touch music controller c. Result: all music controllers were functional, expressive of personal style -Small scale deployment for NYFW


  • Influenced by Taiwanese floral patterns
  • Robotic floral textiles experiment: floral kinetic robots crawl over body
    • motor drive, attached to a series of rollers, able to attach itself to fabric and move around

Why would someone be motivated to wear kinetic accessories? What does it mean?

  • Aesthetic-driven interactions (shape changing jewelry, clothing)
  • Function-driven interactions (broach becomes microphone/speaker, climate-reactive clothing)

Culture + Self-expression

  • Wearables are an expression of our identity
  • Approach via craft
  • Inspired by tin embroidery, highly involved, made DuoSkin also be a highly involved process and craft
  • Craft lives on across generation even as technology evolves
  • Shared across generations, incorporates history