Robo-jewelry could be how you talk to your digital assistant in the future

(Image credit: Jimmy Day)

When digital assistants first started appearing on our phones a few years ago, they were rare, and good for making them say funny stuff and not a great deal more. Now, with Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana and others, the digital assistant is starting to become a part of our everyday lives.

If you’ve been wanting to use your digital assistant and been frustrated that you have to take your phone out of your pocket to make it work, a team at MIT may have come up with a solution. 

It has created a little robot fashion accessory called Kino that can act as a conduit for your digital assistant, allowing you to talk into a device on your shoulder, more than a little like the communicator in Star Trek.

The little robots are also able to change the aesthetics of your clothes by having a pattern on them that changes the overall pattern of your clothes, being attached to items like scarfs that change the shape of the garment when the robot moves, and by leaving patterns behind them on fabrics like velvet.

Creepy crawlies 

We don’t know if it’s just us but the robots crawling over the garment look more than a little like insects. This isn’t helped by the wording of the press release from MIT: “With wearables that possess hybrid qualities of the living and the crafted, we explore a new on-body ecology for human-wearable symbiosis.“

The team envisions a future where: “the accessories we wear are no longer static, but are instead mobile, living objects on the body”. At the moment the robots are still bulky and look a little clumsy, but the team has big ideas about what the future of this tech could look like:

“It is our vision that in the future, these robots will be miniaturized to the extent that they can be seamlessly integrated into existing practices of body ornamentation. With the addition of kinetic capabilities, traditionally static jewelry and accessories will start displaying life-like qualities, learning, shifting, and reconfiguring to the needs and preferences of the wearer, also assisting in fluid presentation of self.”

As this is just a project coming out of the MIT Design Lab, there’s no idea of when you’re going to actually be able to have your own digital fashion ecosystem, but if we hear any more about this project we’ll let you know. 

Via designboom

Andrew London

Andrew London is a writer at Velocity Partners. Prior to Velocity Partners, he was a staff writer at Future plc.