Sophy Wong interview: Meet the queen of wearable tech

By Rob Zwetsloot. Posted

One of the coolest people on the wearable side of the maker community is Sophy Wong – she’s so cool that we have a book all about her wearable tech. You’ll often find her at cons showing off her amazing cosplays and 3D-printed fabric. However, it wasn’t until college for graphic design that she started making.

“The great thing about design is that it’s a framework that can be applied to any kind of making,” Sophy explains. “So, being interested in lots of different mediums and techniques, I took as many art electives as I could squeeze into my schedule. I took printmaking, ceramics, photography, drawing, sculpture, video media. After graduating and becoming a professional graphic designer, I continued to dabble with sewing and fashion design, and eventually started my own small business designing and making clothing. From there, I moved on to costuming, working at Seattle Opera in the costume department. Along the way, I discovered DIY electronics and wearable technology projects, and I began combining all my interests together to design and build costumes and fashion projects that use technology like LEDs in artistic and expressive ways.”

What was your first Raspberry Pi project?

The first Raspberry Pi project I worked on was the SelfieBot, which was a collaboration with my husband Kim Pimmel, who is also a maker and designer. We wanted to build something special for our local Seattle Mini Maker Faire, and we thought it would be fun to create our take on a selfie booth. So we used a Raspberry Pi with a camera and thermal printer for the selfies, and added a screen with custom animations for facial expressions. We recorded my voice for giggles and cute robot sounds, and timed them with the animated face graphics to give SelfieBot a personality. The result is a little character that makes taking a selfie at an event into a fun, interactive experience.

What inspires you?

Inspiration is something that I actively search for and catalogue, so I always have ideas for things I want to make. I get inspiration from movies, books, music, art museums, or even just products on display in a store. I’m very drawn to science-fiction and fantasy, because I love thinking about the future and imagining things that don’t exist yet. I don’t like to sit around and wait for inspiration to find me, I like to hunt for it myself!

What are your favourite projects you’ve made?

Lately, I have been really enjoying working with 3D printing on fabric, and creating full garments and accessories with the technique. It’s a bit experimental and I love designing for such a new medium. I’m also a huge fan of spacesuits, real and imaginary, and making my own spacesuit was a long-time dream of mine. My custom-designed fantasy spacesuit is definitely one of my favourite projects. I’m currently working on a new spacesuit to be used in a short film, and I’m super-excited to finish it and see it used to tell a cool sci-fi story!

Any dream projects you’d like to make?

I’d love to continue making costumes and fashion pieces to be used in films and music videos, as I’ve had the opportunity to design and build costumes for two music videos and it’s just amazing to be able to tell stories through my work. One day, I’d love to make a full ensemble for someone to wear to the Met Gala.

From The MagPi store


Subscribe to the newsletter

Get every issue delivered directly to your inbox and keep up to date with the latest news, offers, events, and more.