Project Lightning Bug


„Lightning Bug“ is an interdisciplinary design research project, investigating the application of light in the extension of interpersonal communication. The Lighting Bug Project is a response to the observation of the ever widening gap between social space and physical place, created predominantly by everyday use of mobile technologies.

“We wear privacy like a pressure suit. Given half the chance we’ll stuff the seat next to ours in a café with raincoats and umbrellas, stare unremittingly at posters about measles in a doctor’s waiting room… Anything but invite encounter; anything but get involved…”
- Michael Schluter and David Lee in The R Factor.

The project is part of a scientific collaboration of the Department of Fashion and The Department of Intermedia Design, of the Trier University of Applied Sciences. Subject is the investigation of the communicative possibilities of light emitting materials in clothing. The research is conducted by postgraduate student Raune Frankjaer.
Aim of the project is to counteract the growing detachment and disengagement observed with the emergence of mobile technologies. By integrating animated light into reactive every-day clothing interpersonal communication is encouraged and stimulated. The name Lightning Bug is inspired by the complex light patterns deployed for communication purposes by some species of the Lampyridae (Lightning Bugs).

As part of the research the project was exhibited at the Luminale (Biennial of Lighting Culture) taking place in the German City of Franfurt am Main. The visitors of the event were invited to become part of the experiment, by mentally becoming wearers of these new garments. Though externally placed sensors personal biometric data was mapped onto the clothing, as the pattern of the pulsating light followed the heartbeat of the participating visitor. In addition the garment reacts onto the other interactive garments through their positioning to each other.


The results of the research will be presented at the HCII 2014 under the Title: Wearable Networks: Creating Hybrid Spaces With Soft Circuits, and published in the Conference Proceedings by Springer. Link will follow.

The Lightning Bug Project was developed with the support of Daniel Gilgen, Dirk Wolfes and Marcel Schwittlick.


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