STYLE

'Personal Space Dress' Is Actually Genius (PHOTOS)

05/15/2014 10:46 EDT | Updated 05/15/2014 11:59 EDT

Ever been on a cramped subway and got a bit uncomfortable with a bunch of strangers crowding around you? Yeah, it's not fun, which is why an American artist decided to do something about it.

Kathleen McDermott, who is based in Hong Kong, created a "Personal Space Dress" that is designed to discourage strangers from getting too close to the wearer. (Genius, right?)

After experiencing too many instances of men squished around her, McDermott decided to design the motorized dress, which has proximity sensors and a plastic armature that expands when a person invades the wearer's personal space.

"I wanted to explore how wearable technology could impact a person's physical world,' she wrote on her website, Kthartic, "and help the wearers augment their personal expression and agency in public space.

"Women of different ages, races, and economic groups experience public space differently, how would they use technology to augment their experience of public space, given the opportunity?"

In an email to Huffington Post Canada, McDermott reiterated that the dress "is an art work" that's part of her MFA thesis and that it's "part of a series of open-source wearable devices that intervene in public space." Other outfits that are part of the series include a scarf that responds to pollution data by covering the wearer's face and a hat that detects CCTV and turns on infrared blockers.

Although the "personal space dress" was created as art, it actually underlies the fact that sexual harassment of women on public transit is still a problem.

In January, the Globe and Mail reported that sexual assaults and harassment were on the rise on B.C. public transit.

McDermott says she is uploading instructions and code so that people everywhere can make the pieces themselves and she is building a library of the devices which anyone can access. Check out more of her work here.

The "Personal Space Dress"