Project description

Live Skin  is a project that explores how to keep balance with technology.  While we are more dependent on digital devices and spend increasing time on them,whether it’s for work, communication or entertainment, how do we balance the virtual and the physical world?  Inspired by human nature skin,practice-based research was conducted to explore the possibility of “new skin” - a shape-changing interface that communicates information through its movement and tension. This is intended to helps people notice and reflect on the time they spend on digital devices and the data they encounter. Different from the existing solutions,this is an attempt to look away from digital devices that brought the problem,  focus on the physical world and human body extension instead. The texture and the materiality of the new skin give users a new sense of the digital data, promoting reflection and motivation to keep balance with digital devices.


This video presents one of the using scenario: when the user spends too much time in digital world, the skin (Skin H) around her neck starts to grow longer. She needs to stop using the phone to make it return back.


Model: Alda  Music: Akira Kosemura

Three Types Skin

W(wrinkle),H(hair),F(feather) were designed and disseminated through concept design. These artefacts are not practical products in daily life yet, but can be a speculative design to promote awareness and reflection.

The Skin Kit

Part 1 - Detector: this is required to be attached to the device that user wants to monitor the time that they spend on it. This is preferable made with Zigbee and light dependent resistor(LDR), but in the prototype making, the LDR is connected to the Arduino board with wired. 

Part 2 - "Skin": transform the data signals into its shapes and tension. When the screen time is accumulated over the limit (default 20 minutes), it will start to change the shapes,to make it return to normal, user has to stop using the mobile phone for 20 minutes (can be changed). 

Skin Material: polyester,soft PVC leather,nylon string,yellow bead.

Part 3 - The electronic components: Arduino nano 33 IoT,servo motor, wires, resistor, battery (preferably Li-Polymer battery).

using scenario

It might look like this is a design solving the problem of another design. Maybe the more appreciative solution is not through design, but changing systems, principles and business models of the attention economy. In this context, the video that I present here is also a critic and reflection about the current difficulty that people have: it is hard to keep balance with technology that they need new skin and new technology to boost their ability. And ask the questions of who is the owner of the body and mind. Do we need extra help to keep us live a more balanced life?

As technology immerse with the physical world,I was also wondering what else that they could be? will they part of our body? what does that mean?

using phone


I would like to express special thanks to my supervisor: Lynne Craig. Thank you so much for your guidance through this process, and always available to help. It’s a great pleasure to have you as my supervisor.  

Thanks all my cohort for you guys’ encouragement,especially Wenyun Deng,thank you for your listening,feedback,dinner and help when I am in rush. 

Thanks Mark Kobine, Billy ( William Edwin Dixon ), uCreate studio team,and my friend Peixian Gong for your technical support and advice.

And Alda, thank you for making time to shot video with me. You makes this video amazing. And all my friend (Huang Qian, Jinlin, Jinhua, Ivan...) and anonymous participants who helped this work.