Narrative and wearables – the Digital Creator Jumpsuit

Created for:

Project length:

  • Short (one week, design document).


  • Heather Kim
  • Matt McGowan
    • my principle contributions: “Research prototype description,” “Illustrative example” and “Storyboards”
  • Cooper Wright


  • The class was asked: “How can you enable kids to experience an artistic or scientific concept on a visceral or kinesthetic level?”

Our answer to this question was the Digital Creator Jumpsuit. Below are a couple of storyboard sketches and an illustrative example I wrote for the

Digital Creator Jumpsuit group design document (pdf):

Illustrative example

Anna, a 4th-grader, has decided to create, along with two of her friends, a short–digital–movie about a mouse who learns how to dance by watching the human family whose house he lives in. Anna is responsible both for the film’s set and for the background sound and music to be played during several of the short’s scenes.

Working on the sets first, Anna orients her jumpsuit to “painter mode” and calls up–on the sleeve of her non-dominant arm (in Anna’s case, her right)–the palate of colors that she and her friends agreed upon for the mouse’s hole-in-the-wall home. Anna decides she wants to use her left arm to paint with blue, so she taps that color on her palate and swipes up her arm, watching the color flow up her right arm, across her chest and down her left arm–“filling up” the entire left sleeve of the jumpsuit with that color. For her right arm, Anna needs yellow, so she taps on that color and swipes down, filling up her right sleeve. Done with color selection for the time being, Anna triple-taps the palate to close it. Now she’s ready to paint!

Suddenly remembering one of her art classes from last week, in which she and her classmates learned about Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Anna decides to go with a “giant swirly” pattern for the mouse’s living room wall. Facing the wallscreen and touching her hands to her shoulders (which signals to the screen that she’s about to paint with her arms), Anna walks from the left of the screen to the right in long, loping strides–swirling, twisting and waving her arms as she does, seeing her multi-colored movements registered on the giant digital canvas in front of her.

Once she reaches the right side of the screen, Anna surveys her work and thinks that the pattern she’s made looks like “some crazy waves.” “So maybe,” she muses, “the house the mouse lives in is by the ocean, and he can hear it from his home in the wall!”

Wanting to play around with the idea before she forgets about it, Anna puts up the hood of her jumpsuit, which is her setting to automatically switch to the suit’s “sound and music” mode. Next she triple-taps her right arm to call up her music and sound effects board to search first for “waves on the beach” and then for “pebbles on the beach”–two of her favorite ocean sounds. Anna then tasks (by selecting and swiping different sound/music icons) “waves on the beach” to both of her arms and “pebbles on the beach” (which she thinks will go well with the star-dots she’s planning on painting in and around the swirly pattern she’s already created) to both of her legs/feet, as she wants to be able to mix the two sounds in real time. She’ll make the wave sounds rise and fall with the movement of her arms and make the pebble sounds by running in place with “quick little baby steps,” listening to the mix through the surround-sound array embedded in her jumpsuit’s hood.

As she’s planning all this out in her head, Anna realizes that she’s probably going to look pretty ridiculous doing it; but she doesn’t really care–that’s why the museum gave each of the students in this program their own “studio.” And, anyway, she knows her friends wouldn’t laugh. Actually, she can’t wait to finish this sound piece (and maybe the star-dots, too) so she can call up a chat window and have her two co-creators come down the hall to see what she’s got so far. Their movie is going to be so awesome–she just knows it!