UNO R4 Stars: Meet Anouk Wipprecht
The launch of the Arduino UNO R4 marks a huge leap forward for our community. For us, it’s also the chance to celebrate the people who bring our ecosystem to life with their bright ideas, radiant enthusiasm, and shining insight.
That is how the UNO R4 Stars blog post series began: to highlight makers who have not only created amazing projects with Arduino, but who are giving back to the community by sharing as they go and helping others make anything they wish.
We invite you to discover each profile, hoping you might find a North Star to navigate around an expanding galaxy or venture into completely new universes.
Many of us think electronics are a beautiful thing, but Anouk Wipprecht takes it to the next level. The Dutch designer creates interactive dresses that turn garments into sensorial experiences, pushing wearables into the field of robotic couture she is pioneering. Check out her YouTube or Vimeo channel to see the Spider Dress, which attacks anyone getting too close to the wearer, or the Smoke Dress, inspired by octopi’s defense mechanisms.
Wipprecht began exploring #FashionTech over 20 years ago, when computers were still big and bulky – and very difficult to hide in a dress. For her, everything changed when she discovered Arduino by attending an interaction design course held by our very own David Cuartielles and the Arduino team in Malmo, Sweden. That’s when she learned to leverage the technological platform Arduino provides to create increasingly smaller wearable systems, and most importantly, with that she became part of a diverse and eclectic community of makers. Using the same simple boards her teammates were working on projects ranging from RC cars to early drones. Meanwhile, following her passion for fashion, she was especially interested in the potential of smaller and more flexible hardware components to bring her creations to life.
Over the years she has furthered her research with every new technological advancement, up to her latest creation: the Chroma dress for Chromatic 3D, which senses other people’s proximity and lights up accordingly, mimicking the bioluminescence of fireflies with LEDs embedded in an innovative elastomer mesh fabric.
For this particular garment, Wipprecht chose the new Arduino Nano ESP32 because of its outstanding combination of small form factor – easy to integrate in the design and comfortable to wear on the body – and great power. Not to mention, the module made interconnections easier than ever and helped speed up the entire project: “The process went super rapidly from ideation to final experiment, and we were able to switch back and forth in order to optimize it.”
“The coolest thing about Arduino is it makes working with electronics really fun,” she says. The experience is so enjoyable thanks to great ease of use and flexibility – which also allows Wipprecht to use Arduino when she teaches, encouraging a whole new generation of makers to turn their ideas into reality.
“The great advantage we have today is we have a lot of accessibility to really cool tools, from powerful machines, to all the latest electronics and technology, and it doesn’t cost as much as it used to. It makes it really easy to make cool stuff.”
We asked Wipprecht, “What’s your favorite part of the UNO R4?”
- The higher processing power: “Everyone wants better processing power, all the time!”
- How easy it is to use: “It’s basically plug-and-play,” making it perfect for prototyping as well as teaching.