If you travel by public transport there will have been the odd occasion when a stranger gets a little too close for comfort. But what if your clothing could detect this and automatically expands to give you more personal space?

The Personal Space Dress features proximity sensors which detect when someone gets too close and the skirt expands accordingly. When the space is clear, the skirt retracts back to normal.

Check out the video above to find out more.

The dress is actually a piece of artwork developed by Hong Kong-based artist Kathleen Marie McDermott and is the second item in her ‘Urban Armor’ series of electronic clothing for women.  

The aim of the project is to encourage women to take more ownership of their personal space she says: “I wanted to explore how wearable technology could impact a person's physical world, and help the wearers augment their personal expression and agency in public space.”

Copyright: Kathleen McDermott

Certainly the dress seems a little excessive for public use and McDermott admits it “treads the boundaries of the ridiculous.”

The first piece in the Urban Armor series was a scarf called The Auto Filter. It includes a built-in pollution sensor which, when it detects pollutants such as alcohol, cigarettes and a car exhaust, causes the scarf to rise automatically to protect the wearer’s face.

Urban Armor 3 is a CCTV-detecting hat called Miss-My-Face. When a sensor in the hat detects a camera is in the vicinity it activates infrared LEDs that interfere with the camera, making the wearer ‘glow’ in the recording.

Sadly, McDermott has no plans to turn the artwork into commercial products, instead her aim is to create a ‘library of devices’ online so that people can make their own.

Future planned projects include collaboration with different types of women and their perceptions of personal space.  Check out her website to find out more. (Via: DesignTaxi).

Video credit: Kathleen McDermott