Most of the areas of the body listed on the PULSE board are open and waiting to receive something to control: arms, thighs, head, buns, nips, and neck!
Each comes with its own challenges and list of potential ideas. After much thought, I decided to direct my attention to the nipples for my next project…
The first nipple augment is called the “Propellor Pasties”! As its name suggests, it senses fluctuations in the size of the wearer’s nipple using IR distance sensors and then indicates the fluctuation by spinning a geared propellor mounted to the other breast.
SENSING FROM THE NIP
Initially, the brainstorming session for this build took place in the kitty pool with an electronics engineer, a machinist, and plenty of beer to go around. As these *meditations* go, we first discuss the WHAT, and then mulled over the HOW. What am I sensing from the nipple, and how will I do it?
Likely, you’re thinking to yourself that this is a matter of detecting fluctuations in size and stiffness. Which realistically, if we’re talking lowest hanging fruit, those are the branches to pick from!
What sensors might a proper hardware hacker pick for the task of sensing discrete changes in stiffness or size? I personally can think of at least a half-dozen. The most accessible to me (as a broke af artist right now) was what Mark happened to have on hand in the lab: IR reflective sensors.
The little IR reflective sensor boards (Which mark designed himself long ago) turned out to be excellent at reading small changes at a close distance. When placed near a form-shifting Nipple, they might work to tell when there has been a shift in size/girth/stiffness.
To test this out, I designed a pastie stand-off in CAD, mounted one of the sensors to it, and watched the serial line plotter in Arduino while moving my pinkie finger in and out of proxy to the chip. It turned out to work stellar!
INDICATING TO THE NIP
The second half of the problem involves the matter of indication. After something is sensed from the subject (nipple)… then what?
This is typically the part that allows me to exercise more creative freedom and silliness. As mentioned earlier… the name of this meditation includes the word, “propellor”. So you see where this is going.
Right out of the chute, I knew there needed to be some spinning entity mounted on the end of the breast. The spinning propellor came to manifest as a geared and driven indicator whose speed directly related to the distance read by the IR sensor.
The challenge in this was:
- creating a gearbox that mounts to a breast!
- the gear box must spin a central propellor over the nipple
- the gears probably shouldn’t shred the nipple
- I get bonus points if the function somehow stimulates the wearer in a pleasant way
On an unrelated note, I had recently assembled a toy rover kit that I had picked up while in Tokyo. It had a somewhat showy planetary gear system on the top of it, that stuck in my mind for some reason. Three smaller gears rotated within it… creating a nice circle-within a circle effect:
Alas, I recreated this system with my own printed gears and it worked just as imagined:
THE COMMON PASTIE ADAPTOR
Once I had the properly calibrated sensor stand off and a working planetary gear box + propellor. Now what? These two key assemblies won’t do me any good unless they are mounted to an actual breast, and in the correct location at that.
The part of this build that took the longest amount of time, was creating a “common pastie adaptor” that both the IR mount and gear box could screw onto… and also seat in the correct location relative to the nipple.
This took a lot of trial and error in CAD because I could not simply create a boobie *stand-in* model to design around in Fusion360. I couldn’t get a sense for how something would fit until it was assembled and tested on my body irl.
I made slight adjustments to each assembly until both systems fit universally on the same pastie adaptor, and were locked in the correct position once screwed in place.
The adaptor and assemblies are threaded so that they can couple and decouple with ease!
Here is the IR sensor standoff seated on a pastie adaptor:
You can see the sensor chip centered over the middle of the housing from below:
Here is the gear box seated on the pastie adaptor:
The “common” adaptor isn’t truly common, in that the one for the gear box is modified with a mounting point for a tiny DC motor on the side (other than that though they’re the same shape/proportion):
BONUS CHALLENGE: STIMULATION
I stated back when I first announced this project: the point of all these wearable augment IS NOT to arouse the wearer. The goal is to sense and indicate arousal. HOWEVER… if the indication happens to stimulate the wearer as a byproduct- then this is allowable.
This creative challenge manifested with those three seemingly useless internal gears part of my planetary gearbox. Secretly, when I looked at that little rover toy, I saw them doing something very useful indeed… like facilitating in a kneeling motion.
I added some thick rounded bumpers to the ends of my gears. The not only massage the nipple, but also help keep it a safe distance away from the working gears that would otherwise SHRED IT:
Once positioned in the proper direction, the three oval-shaped bumpers produce an undulating… kneading effect around the middle:
TESTING THE SYSTEM
Since there are obviously potential pinch points in the design of my apparatus, it was clear I had to make some form of test fixture to use while testing and calibrating my system.
It made sense to use something soft and nipple-like that changed shape like nipples do… so I decided to use some of the earplugs that have become a necessary part of my sleeping ritual (living with someone who snores):
To help keep everything in place, I 3D printed a guide rail that ensures the ear plugs are held at the proper height relative to the augments. It also keep the augments from sliding around all whil-a-nil:
Here is the first iteration in action on the test fixture:
It is also important to note that some other concepts have also been mapped out for the “nip” area. They are COMPLETELY different from this meditation, so likely after the HackaDay Hardware Developer’s Didactic Galactic next week in SF, I’ll tackle one of those ideas as a follow up.
If you happen to find yourself in the Bay Area next week on the 12th of July, come stop in and say HI! I’ll be there ready to talk NIPS and wearables!