Keep Your Ears Peeled Prototype with Tina and Healthy modeling the demo.

“Say what?!”

Process: Initial Prototype I originally wanted to do a prototype that focused on ears pricking up when people whispered. I wanted to base my design on the Chicago phrase “his ear grew real big” when a person hears their name. I tried to create an origami infrastructure in the fabric to create a collapsible dome ear (that would “grow” bigger when someone whispered into it). I folded everything on the diagonals as well as the x and y axis. I used valley and mountain folds throughout the original structure to try to get the piece to create a half dome shape. While I was able to get some curve, I failed at making the structure collapsible. The original intention was to have a conch-shell or cochlea-like ear structure that would expand when someone came near to whisper. I thought the larger square might be restricting the movement, so I cut the square in half and tried to make it collapse again. I was partially successful, but in order to get the structure to collapse, I had to sacrifice the dome shape. The paper only moved in a 2D plane, not 3D plane. So, I yeeted this initial prototype.

Failed origami structure: collapsible dome

Process: Second Prototype Then I remembered the saying “Keep your ears peeled” and I decided to explore a different mechanism (the tendon and V-Fold rigid structure model) to make a banana peel-like structure with fabric and stiff brown paper bag paper. I wanted to do a play on words that illustrated someone’s ears being “peeled…”

In the new prototype, I used the weight of the fabric to help the infrastructure maintain its shape and slow down its movement as it curled. The tendon had to work against the fabric in order to lift the structure so it took more effort to curl the ears. Initially I had the ears in an upright position like a rabbit, but the fabric was too heavy for the paper infrastructure to stay in an alert position. I decided on the downward position of the ears which gave it a dopey comical effect.

Below is the full extent of how this new structure can move… as well as Tina’s dance moves…

Changes I’d Make: I do wish that the actual movement was triggered by the other person (rather than self-manipulated). I wasn’t sure how to rectify this one detail – I had initially attached the pull string to the other person, but the downward motion required in this new set up (downward instead of upright ears) made the interaction very awkward and I couldn’t achieve the right angle for the lever to be pulled. If the ears had remained in an upright position, the second person would have been able to raise their hand (reverse motion of tendon) as if to whisper in the ear, and that would have made the ears unfurl. Unfortunately, that model could not hold its own weight.