Where would a lady be without a good makeup palette? You just never know when you’re going to need to go from a “day” to a “night” look, or when you’re going to feel the urge to add a pop of fun color to your everyday ensemble, or when you’re going to need to quietly break into a corporate database. Wait, what?
Naomi Wu, aka “SexyCyborg,” knows the importance of multitasking, especially where hacking is concerned. The Chinese woman has the mind of a James Bond villain, although thankfully not the intentions, as she first showed us last year when she designed a pair of sexy 3D printed shoes with concealed compartments for a wireless router, lock-picking set, and other security-penetrating tools. Wu is fascinated with penetration testing, or pentesting, which is the process of trying to hack into a computer system in order to identify vulnerabilities that could potentially be exploited by actual criminals.
In her latest project, Wu has created the “Pi-Palette,” a makeup palette with a hidden Raspberry Pi 3 inside. In a Hackaday post, she explains how she designed what she calls the “hacker’s cosmetic case,” which she uses to run Kali Linux, a pentesting distribution. It’s designed to look like a “somewhat chunky” makeup palette; while she could have made it thinner, she chose to keep it a relatively simple construction.
“The size could be reduced by at least a third if we remove the plugs and jacks entirely in favor of soldering directly to the PCBs, but it then requires quite a bit of delicate work with any mistakes being rather costly,” Wu says. “I chose to just remove the top two USB jacks (carefully) with nippers…Using the Pi Zero is also an option but processing power and usability would take a significant hit. The Raspberry Pi 3 is, for most purposes a fully functional computer and generally as quick as a low end laptop for any reasonable tasks. I didn’t really want to sacrifice that.”
The “palette” itself was created by 3D printing a plastic enclosure with brackets to hold the Raspberry Pi, WiFi adapter and battery – along with a holder for an actual tray of makeup, to hide the computer beneath. You can see the full process of creating the enclosure and wiring together the device in the video below:
Despite her theatrics at the beginning of the video, Wu reaffirms that she’s just having fun with her pentesting projects.
“This is not a serious infosec tool,” she says.
It’s clear that she knows the technology well, though, and she has a real knack for combining hacking with art, often helped along by a 3D printer. All of her skills are self-taught, and she’s passionate about girls and women learning about and using technology – as she has said before, “Any girl can and should make, code and hack.”
Wu tells us about an informal community of female 3D printing enthusiasts developing on Twitter, composed of users such as @AbuzzDesigns, @SparkyFace5, @einsteinunicorn, @loubie_3D, @TGAW, @ddhedder, @ChelsC423, @3DPGirl, @GiryaGirl and others. She wants to see female makers and designers getting more attention, and while she’s aware that a lot of the attention she gets comes from her appearance, she hopes that once the curious learn about what she’s doing, they’ll turn their interest towards her work and the work of other women.
“No one has any illusions about where most of my traffic comes from and I do my best to be bait and pass it on to the 3DP sisterhood, but they still get no where close to what they deserve,” she tells 3DPrint.com. “When people want to see a printer review and go down a list of YouTube thumbnails they just don’t click on the mom of two first.”
Being a woman in tech isn’t the easiest thing in the world, so it’s great to see more communities of female makers and tech enthusiasts coming together on the web and more conversations being had about diversity. We’ll be keeping up soon with more of Wu’s work, as well as with direct input from women in the tech community.
Go check out the work of these women, who are doing some very cool things, and if you’re looking for a fun project to keep you busy while the weather’s miserable, why not try making a Pi-Palette? No one will ever guess that your concealer is concealing a computer. In addition to Wu’s Hackaday post, you can also learn more about her project here, and download the files from Thingiverse. Discuss in the Pi-Palette forum at 3DPB.com.