This year’s South By Southwest conference in Texas brought a lot of exciting perks, but one that definitely stood out was the recognition of Hyphen-Labs, which consists of a group of women who are taking afrofeminism to a whole other level…a level of counter surveillance and virtual reality.
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These aren’t just any group of women from around the world, they are engineers, neuroscientists, artists and architects who have come together to create one of the most unique visions to date. They have launched products that also consist of virtual reality and anti-spy fashion wear. Their innovative creations include a virtual reality beauty salon for Black women where the beauticians are braiding electrodes into the hair of their clients giving them brain power. What’s the message their trying to deliver, you may ask? “What we’re projecting here is that Black women are the pioneers of brain optimization,” says Carmen Aguilar, who is the co-founder of Hyphen-Labs.
Another interesting invention the women introduced was the purple and pink scarf made of silk that comes with a design to camouflage facial recognition programs mainly used by law enforcement and social media. “We’re looking at like, what if people were to wear this to protests? When you have so many faces on a garment, you can ultimately, if enough people are wearing it, break the surveillance system entirely.” says Ashley Baccus-Clark to NPR, who is a neuroscientist in the group.
Then there’s the “door knocker” earrings with hip-hop style influence that come with hidden microphones and cameras. The purpose of this interesting jewelry is to use them during police stops or to record any adverse incident that may be taking place. There’s an entire collection of anti-surveillance products, including anti-drone burkas to throw off thermal-detecting spyware, and a ScatterViz vizor to control identity. “Whomever you’re looking at can’t see in,” Clark explains. “What they see is a reflection of themselves. So if they’re saying something to you that isn’t nice, then they’re forced to view their own maliciousness in the mirror.”
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Hyphen-Labs is on the verge of something huge. They are teaming up with artists and scientist around the world to create anti-spyware through fashion and design, and the products they’ve come up with so far are simply fascinating!
To learn more about Hyphen-Labs and the women involved, go here.