Shared Skin

With the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference going on, we were motivated to create something that can demonstrate how together – as a human race – we can solve the energy crisis that we are facing. We showed the project at KlimaForum09, as a way of protesting and pushing for a more resolute decision by the world leaders at the Conference.

Shared Skin is a shoulder-worn suit with embedded solar panels, enabling individual human beings to collect and store solar energy during their daily routine and to share that solar energy with one another through friendly gestures such as hugging, holding hands, and patting on each other’s backs. We were fascinated with the idea of having ubiquitous solar energy stored in each and every individual’s body; we were also excited by the possibility of enabling human beings to share energy among one another or aggregating our energy together for some greater purpose, such as powering a building.

We wanted to design Shared Skin in such a way that the solar energy is collected without the user paying much attention to it; we also wanted to merge the technology seamlessly into people’s everyday lives. When a person wears the Shared Skin suit and walks around conducting their daily routine, the solar cells on the surface of the suit automatically collect and store solar energy whenever they are exposed to sunlight.

Later, the person can use the stored solar energy to charge his electronic devices. If the person wants to transfer his energy to a friend also wearing the suit (but running out of energy), he and his friend can hug and pat each other on the back.

When three or more people want to aggregate their energy together to, say, power a computer, they can hold hands to form a circle allowing the accumulation of energy. Share Skin was implemented with Arduino and with various embedded sensors and devices, including rechargeable batteries for demonstrating energy transfer. The suit also comes with a glove that has embedded sensors and wires connecting it to the suit.