This spring I’m making a series of custom masks for my four closest friends that will respond to their facial gestures by activating features on the outside surface. This project is called the “Flocking Masks” and will hopefully yield some fun summer shenanigans later this year!

Any hoo… the way in which I’m making these masks reactive involves a somewhat simple capacitance circuit that exploits the properties of the materials forming the circuit. Connected to my circuit are several copper pads; one to act as ground, the other two for sensing. The charge of your body effects the charge on the pads, so the amount of skin contacting the pad relates to a degree of capacitance, and can act as a granular trigger!

flocking masks capacitance circuit spetku

While this works nicely in a bread board with some red LEDs, I need to mount these pads inside of a mask and test the viability of facial skin consistently triggering this spooky tech in its proper context before moving on to the engineering phase of the project.

At the start of the week, I sat down and built some test fixtures that plug into an Arduino and have BIG obvious LED indicator antennas for signaling when the copper pads are sensing skin contact. Below is a video about this endeavor:

With the testing modules built and the four masks roughly surfaced, I invited my flock over this past Friday for a “face fitting” date… and to help me determine whether or not my circuit would work the way I planned.

flocking masks spetku

Before everyone arrived on Friday, I stitched together some quick temporary harnesses for the outside of the masks to hold them firmly on the face meat of the wearer:

flocking mask harnesses spetku

Once everyone arrived, the *fun* began. While my friends socialized and reclined, I buzzed about like a busy bee and collected my data; summoning them into the kitchen for measurements and the like throughout the evening.

Originally, I envisioned my whole flock sitting at the kitchen table all at once wearing their masks, rigged up with their own individual test fixtures… but things never came to a head in that way. Cooking dinner and drinking, while socializing and working don’t make a well oiled machine.

Several hot fixes were made, but I did manage to get the feedback I needed in spite of things not going exactly to plan. One at a time in a somewhat jankie manner, my friends held their masks to their faces while I held the Arduino up next to their heads as they squeezed out expressions on command.

This is a fun summary of the encounter. Pandemonium and all, it was a perfect example of a typical social night in this life that I live. It should give an idea of everyones personality *winks with both eyes*


If you don’t feel like watching the video, here is some of the concept art I drew up this weekend for the individual masks themselves. Again, the features of the mask should represent the wearer’s persona within the social setting.

Where I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to engineer the features mechanically… I have some abstract ideas about their general function and appearance. This is what I’m thinking:


flocking masks bird of paradise Matt robohemian


flocking masks phoenix mask spetku


flocking mask spetku wearable owl


flocking masks wearable tech spetku tangram

Readers Comments (1)

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