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Fiber Optics in Fashion
Jun 2008
FLORENCE, Italy, June 26, 2008 – With 15,000 individually addressable optical fibers totaling more than 40 miles in combined length, the interactive art installation, called the Cloud, was quite a spectacle at this year’s Pitti Uomo fashion show in Italy.


Photos courtesy of MIT's Mobile Experience Lab.

Standing over six and a half feet high, the Cloud is actually an organic sculptural landmark constructed from carbon glass that responds to human interaction. It is capable of detecting presence and engaging with users through its
multi-fiber touch interface. Tactile engagement with the individual fibers provokes a variety of responses from the cloud, ranging from ambient lighting to animation and sound.

The Cloud is part of a long-term collaboration between the Mobile Experience Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Pitti Immagine called “Redesigning fashion trade shows,” which has been dedicated to promoting innovation and using technology to alter perspectives and sensory experiences. Cloud-cluster.jpg

The cloud is equipped with 20 proximity sensors that cover the entire object. It can detect if someone is near the object, but also the direction they move, if they go to the back of the object, if they are walking around, etc. Three-quarters of the cloud is covered with touch sensors for precise touch-area tracking. In addition, the cloud is equipped with two cameras and microphones for long range detections.

“Cloud is a technology platform that makes it possible to test and understand truly innovative forms of interactivity,” said Vicenzo Maria Franco, general manager of Pitti Immagine. “It is not only a work of art to be appreciated, but also a new form of interactivity. It will provide information, spark ideas and stimulate new ways of thinking about fashion events.”

According to its creators, the shape of the Cloud originates from a plastic movement in space that is frozen in time, a still image capturing an instant of a volume in motion. The Cloud’s form is continuous, soft and curvaceous.

It was designed to be seen both from inside and outside, so it turns on itself revealing a convex curved surface to the exterior while embracing the interior space of the pavilion with its internal concave shape. The surface treatment is of a highly polished gloss, as the Cloud displays at the same time that it reflects its environment, it becomes a witness of the space and its inhabitants.

Cloud-daylight.jpg“Technology changes how we look at and interact with the world. At the MIT Mobile Experience Lab, we are committed to helping businesses and organizations to change the way they engage and interact with people,” says Federico
Casalengo, director of the MIT Mobile Experience Lab and associate director of the MIT Design Lab, who heads up the research project. “Through the design and deployment of new technologies, and by working with forward-looking organizations such as Pitti Immagine, we can fundamentally change the way people perceive and experience events.”

The Cloud is located in downtown Florence outside the Fortezza da Basso and has been financially supported by the Tuscan Regional Government.

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The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
cloudConsumerFederico Casalengofiber opticsFlorenceItalyMITmobile experience lab. Pitti ImmagineNews & FeaturesphotonicsSensors & DetectorsVicenzo Maria Franco

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