I recently attended the BF+DA ‘This is not a Sweater’ event organized by Pratt Institute and bkaccelerator. There were some beautiful samples of wearable circuits or rather fashionable technology. Here are three of my favorite ones:
1. Soft Button
[This integrated the tactility of archetypal buttons into the soft textile environment. It comes as an activating “sandwich” what can be sewn onto the edge of an electrical garment.]
The uses of such garments can be limitless. You can attach a sensor to the button that will broadcast a signal or send a notification or email to pre-programmed friends, which they can see on their mobile app. This can also act as a protector on jackets, where if touched, it will raise an alarm. These supplementary circuits like the alarm or the app notification can reside within a handbag or within one of the pockets of the apparel. This can help people who walk alone, or at night to help them from burglary or just giving them more courage.
You can use a flat button sandwiched between regular fabric with fine wires or you can just use a sandwich of two conductive fabrics or fabrics with few conductive threads.
2. Stroke Switch
[This uses a stroking gesture to activate a switch, like a hand wave.]
Possible uses of this can be turning on a light, activating a heat embedded garment or sending a signal to a remote device. More specifically, what I would really like to do with this is use these in my t-shirts. If a hand-wave can generate an output response, so can proximity. We can use light sensors like photoresistors and program the Arduino chips to a certain proximity, where when a body comes close, the light decreases enabling the input signal from the photoresistor to trigger the circuit output. This output can be a series of micro-LEDs arranged in a pattern, which can say a “Hi” on the front of a t-shirt.
3. Zip-o-meter with Potentiometer
[Zip up or down to adjust the volume in your headsets, change the color of an indicator light or regulate the temperature on your heat emitting garment.]
This was my favorite because of the idea that the zip of your jacket connected to the potentiometer can regulate my sound of headphones! That is something so awesome and I hope to create this someday.
A ‘soft’ potentiometer is a thin and flexible strip that can detect where the pressure is being applied. By pressing down on various parts of the strip, you can vary the resistance from 100 to 10k ohms. Otherwise, this is just a variable resistor on a normal circuit, but for a soft circuit you can achieve this in many ways; one of such simple ways is to add a metal strip, like a zip hook, onto any thin conducting material, like conducting fabric, or tape or the threading of the zip itself. This altogether will act as the potentiometer and regulate the resistance that it will generate. In a circuit, you can tap different voltages at different points on the circuit, and hence this works like a variable resistor.