For my main project this semester, I will be pursing wearable technology. For the functionality of the artifact I was first inspired by a collaboration with Levis and Google. Together, they designed a jacket for bicycle commuters that utilized conductive thread to recognize hand gestures. This meant you could control basic aspects of your phone just by touching your jacket.
Another interesting example of wearable technology is the company The Unseen. They developed apparel and accessories that changed colors based on environmental factors. In the following example, a bag changes color based on heat (hand prints).
Both of the above examples are very interactive, which I would like to replicate in my artifact. As for the aesthetics, I was inspired by the Instagram user interface. Therefore, I plan to implement a flat design aesthetic in my artifact. Flat design is common in graphic design and characterized by minimalism, color gradients, and borderlines [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_design]. The Instagram logo in particular is a great example of this aesthetic.
Instagram served as more than just the aesthetic inspiration behind this project. It also informed the motivation of the project. I want to replicate the psychological effects of receiving a “like” on social media. When people receive likes on Instagram, they get a rush of dopamine. This is done in part through the use of bright colors. Many of us associate excitement with the following image.
What if instead of motivating online connections, we could motivate in-person connections. That is the goal of this project, which I will be entitling Dopamine. It works by lighting up your clothes in fun and exciting ways when you make a connection with someone (shake hands, high five, fist bump).
Display – Addressable LED strips along the sleeves and neck of an existing long sleeve t-shirt or sweatshirt.
Interactivity – Turn on lights when user shakes hands, high fives, or fist bumps another person.
Power source – Operate with 5V, 4A power source: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/15352
Color – High resolution, high saturation color gradients utilizing primary colors (red, blue, yellow).
Wearability – Fit power source in pocket, optional glove with capacitive touch sensors, conductive thread between LEDs
The design for Dopamine could be divided into three different elements; aesthetics, mechanical, and electrical. For the aesthetics, high saturation color gradients will be utilized. The following image was made in Illustrator to demonstrate what the desired final artifact will look like from an aesthetic perspective.
For the mechanical design, an existing shirt will be modified as opposed to creating a shirt from scratch. Additionally, I will be creating a glove with multiple capacitive touch sensors that allows for multiple kinds of interactions to be detected. In the image below, the green boxes indicate capacitive touch sensors. Utilizing one on the front of the pointer finger and one on the back should detect a large variety of interactions.
For the electrical design, the WS2812B addressable LED’s will be utilized. This PCB can be used to wire the LED to conductive thread. Libraries used in this design can be found at https://github.com/sparkfun/SparkFun-Eagle-Libraries.
A capacitive touch sensor can be made utilizing a large resistor and a small metal plate (tin foil for example). If the plate is touched, a “capacitor” is created which changes the time constant of the RC circuit. This change can be detected using the Arduino CapactiveSensor library. The following PCB can be used to make this sensor.
Because I have experience with addressable LEDs and electronics, I’ve focused the first weeks of this project on learning to sew. I have taken the sewing workshop at the ITLL and have practiced standard forward stitching.
I do however need additional practice with seam finishes and creating a clean looking final product.