Media Lab Europe
Human Connectedness research group


a spiral-shaped shawl that carries whispers of your loved ones

Elena Corchero, Stefan Agamanolis

Gifts and keepsakes allow us to remember friends and loved ones when we travel or move to far away places. The whiSpiral is a new kind of keepsake that explores how technology can enhance the way garments and accessories evoke memories of these relationships. Circuitry integrated directly in the textile allows your friends to record short audio messages at different points in a spiral-shaped shawl. These messages are whispered back each time you wrap the shawl around yourself, or by caressing different parts of the fabric.

The whiSpiral is inspired by the power of a simple human voice to evoke rich memories of a person or relationship, and by the power of a whisper as a medium of intimacy. Similarly, just as they are worn close to our skin, articles of clothing and jewelry presented to us as gifts are reminders of the closeness of our friends and loved ones, especially when we are far away. The whiSpiral is a new kind of keepsake that allows the simple intimacy of a whisper to be carried in a garment that you can wrap around you, take everywhere, and keep for all time.

The whiSpiral is a spiral-shaped shawl that consists of 9 miniature audio recording modules integrated directly in the textile, each capable of storing a 10 second message. The locations of the modules are made visible by exposing some of their electronic components on the exterior of the shawl, covered by a protective material resembling 3 white leaves. A microphone connector is denoted by a yellow leaf.

The whiSpiral could, for example, be given as a going-away present when someone leaves a job or moves to a new place. Friends of the recipient can record messages by removing the yellow leaves one by one, attaching a microphone, and speaking into each module while pressing a small button. When finished, the whiSpiral appears completely white and is ready to present as a gift. The whispers are released when sensors located in each audio module detect a soft caress or wrapping movement. The messages are stored in persistent memory that will not be erased when the battery occasionally needs to be replaced.

Publications and Links

  • Informational handout (PDF)

  • Información del proyeto en español (PDF)

  • Elena's personal web site.

  • High resolution images available upon request from Elena Corchero or Stefan Agamanolis.

    The whiSpiral has been exhibited at:

    whiSpiral is discussed in:

    • Stefan Agamanolis, New Technologies for Human Connectedness, ACM interactions, vol. 12, no. 4, July - August 2005, pp. 33 - 37. (link)