This Year's Best Halloween Costume Is Cheap, Easy, and Awesome

Last year around this time, a NASA JPL engineer blew us away with a Halloween costume that used two iPads to create the illusion of a gaping hole in his chest. Cool, if you could afford two iPads. For the 99 percent of us that couldn't, he promised that his 2012 costume would be equally awesome and infinitely more affordable.

He hasn't disappointed.

Mark Rober gave us an exclusive first look at DigitalDudz, a project he and a small team have been working on since last Halloween (y'know, when he wasn't busy with that whole Mars Rover thing). The concept is simple. You download a free app (for iOS or Android), snag a custom designed t-shirt, duct-tape your phone or tablet to the inside of it, rock party. The app has 21 different animations and videos that bring the t-shirts to life by animating the eyes, inserting a beating heart, or doing other freaky things. The combinations range from cute, kid-friendly stuff, to things of the genuinely disturbing, "I need to not be looking at you right now" variety. There's also the iWound, which is a fleshy, bloody, gaping latex wound. It has a built in sleeve that will hold just about any phone securely (we tested it with the small iPhone 4S and the large Galaxy S III).

Mark was kind enough to send us a sample of the iWound and the rather upsetting shirt entitled "Safety Pinned". We can confirm that they really do look great. Especially if you turn the brightness down to 10 percent or so, they just blend right in with the t-shirt's art, which definitely ups the creep-out factor. The apps are in beta right now but they generally work well. Mark is confident that the gremlins will be worked-out well before Halloween.

He's selling the custom t-shirts for $24 and the iWound for $35, but if that's not cheap enough for you, he encourages you to download the free app and make your own costume around it. Additional tweaks can be unlocked within the app for a buck or two. We love seeing a super high-tech looking costume that anyone with a smartphone or tablet can afford. Sure, it's a little inconvenient that you can't use your phone because it's part of your costume. But for a Halloween guise designed by an actual rocket scientist? That's a small price to pay. [Digital Dudz]