I made vibrating pants to empower and delight stylish paraplegic women. The initial goal of this project was to help prevent the formation of bedsores (pressure ulcers). Knowing personally a few paraplegic people, I recently learned about this problem. Their paralysis puts them at risk of developing bedsores which once formed, become a source of chronic pain and in some cases can lead to life threatening complications.
I believe that if we can make spacesuits we should be able to make well crafted clothes designed to meet the needs of people with disabilities here on Earth.
I spoke with a few paraplegic women who gave me insight to how they hoped the pants they wear would be; They wanted pants that are easily pulled on, and so I used stretchy fabric, made opening at the side ankle seams and have no fastening at the waist. They wanted the back waist to be higher as when sitting the pants get pulled down and needed less fabric at the front waist. Lastly they said that the length of the pants should be longer as pants hike up when sitting.
When designing the pattern of the pants I wanted to have as little seams under the thighs and bum to avoid unnecessary friction which is also known for affecting bedsores. I wanted to design pants that will engage and promote touching the legs in order to add natural occurring small movement s created by playing and feeling the pants. Movement helps blood flow which is good in prevention of bedsores. I realized that the thighs when sitting could be an easily accessed layout for an interface so i decided to insert a series of vibration motors to add engagement with the body and playfulness.
It was important for me to design pants that will stand out and will have their own fashion statement. I wanted to use the shapes created by the legs when sitting as part of the design and add unique texture.
As my final prototype I decided to incorporate vibration motors on the thighs as an added value to the pants. Vibrations are studied in relations to helping skin blood flow and known to help heal pressure ulcers at stage I. Vibration Healing uses mechanical vibration to prevent, treat, and promote recovery from a variety of physical ailments.
Furthermore, adding vibration buttons to the pants promotes engagements with the legs and movement.
My goal is to help increase the blood flow of the legs, and I believe that by adding stimuli on the thighs, the engagement with the legs will serve as a reminder to actively touch and move the legs, while the small vibrations could help the blood flow and serve as a form of entertainment.
I took visual inspiration from Space Age aesthetic and looked at athletic wear for comfortable construction. I made this moodboard and then designed and created a few samples.
Eventually I settled on this pants design
sketched the style lines and made the pattern
The making of the vibration circuits:
I began testing vibration motors and worked on how to incorporate them in the pants’ structure.
I tested the soft switch that I made using a sandwich technique with a neoprene layer that has holes in it. Once pressed the it closes the circuit and the vibration motor works.
I decided to make the vibration motor the into a pressure switch so where you press the vibration will start. Also I wanted to use one battery per each thigh and connected the vibration motors in parallel.
I used a tape which has 3 conductive yarn woven in parallel into it. I used conductive tape and conductive thread to create the switch.
I wanted the batteries to sit inside the fabric and be easy to switch when needed so I used tiny 1/4” magnets inserted as an enclosure for the batteries.
I made the vibration motors circuits removable so that the pants will be washable. To construct the pants in this way, I made a pocket insert using the thigh dart seam which has the piping. To open and close this pocket I used 3/8” velcro tape.