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Exploring wearable technology & electronic art using microcontrollers, sensors & e-textiles


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Using sensors and actuators in wearable technology using LilyPad Arduino. Features some examples of my work.

Using sensors and actuators in wearable technology using LilyPad Arduino. Features some examples of my work.

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  • Hello I’m RainToday I’m going to talk about exploring wearable technology & electronic art using microcontrollers, sensors & e-textiles
  • I create interactive wearables and electronic artworks with electronics, code, artistic ideas and fabrics to create wearable technology and electronic artworks. My work background is in websites and interactive games and learning tools, I was a senior producer and technologist at the BBC. I have studied fine art, multimedia and electronics engineering, so it’s not surprising my passion is fusing art, code and electronics my work I use many different types of microcontroller boards and electronic components. Arduinos are possibly the best known family of microcontroller – they were first invented in Italy by Massimo Banzi and his team to address the need for a way to combine electronics and product design for rapid prototyping. A microcontroller is a small computer on a single integrated circuit containing a processor core, memory, and programmable input and output peripherals. There are many other flavours, most are open source and run on code commands written in C programming language.
  • I’m part of many communities around Maker and Hacker culture, that’s Hacker in it’s proper positive sense – defined as a person who hacks code or hardware for good! In the here’s a great community for coders, hardware engineers, enthusiasts and makers of all flavours - there’s lots of blending within groups of people and I see many friends who attend these meets at London Quantified Self meetings too. I also exhibit my work at Maker Faires and other tech and art events – I’m especially keen to try to encourage people to think about training and careers in technology.The top RH photo is Makers & Hackers, in February 2009, a one-day hack-a-thon where I first saw a sewing machine, soldering iron & Arduino side-by-side. The other’s are Maker Faires in Brighton and Newcastle, Chi-TEK hacked teapots show at the V&A and Culture Hack weekend.
  • My personal work uses lots of different components, I use various microcontrollers, but often use the LilyPad Arduino sewable microcontroller board with various, e-textiles, sewable components such as conductive threads and conductive velcro, buzzers, integrated circuits and sensors, plus electroluminescents. My work is also interactive, for example: user playable musical shirt, temperature sensing wear, musical games, proximity sensing and heart rate monitoring wearables.
  • For wearable and fabric based artworks I use the LilyPad Arduino – it’s a sewable microcontroller, which means I sew the circuitry to and from the microcontroller with conductive thread. I use this microcontroller with all sorts of kit from standard components, to bespoke ones I put together, sensors, actuators hacked electronics, e-textiles and other conductive items. I use the Arduino IDE - integrated development environment to programme my work in C-ish programming language. My work is also interactive, often has music, includes a game, something to play with or has a practical and useful idea behind it.
  • Here is a list of my thoughts on the LilyPad Arduino, what’s fabulous about it and a few things I think could be improved.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Exploring wearable technology & electronic art using microcontrollers, sensors & e-textiles Rain Ashford | http://rainycatz.wordpress
    • 2. I create interactive wearables and art, working with many flavours ofmicrocontrollers & various components…
    • 3. I’m also part of a fantastic community of hardware & code hackers, artists andmakers spread across the world
    • 4. Twinkle Starduino 2009My work intersects several areas I’ve studied and enjoy:art, coding and electronics
    • 5. I’m fascinated by the juxtaposition of self tracking combined with social interactionand visibility of emotions, self-awareness and physical states via the use of sensorsand actuators
    • 6. observing how audiences interact with my work & I’ve become a lot moreinterested in how people react to electronics in social situations
    • 7. Sci-Fi has been a massiveinspiration, but does allwearable technology have tolook like… ?
    • 8. NOPE!
    • 9. ..but I do like to challenge the notion thatelectronics has to be cold, sharp, boxy, grey &dull – by incorporating them into the overalldesign of my work
    • 10. This is the LilyPad Arduino
    • 11.’s a microcontroller & suite of modules designed for wearables & e-textilesthat can be sewn directly to fabric with conductive thread. It use it for most ofmy wearable & e-textile based artworks
    • 12. LilyPad ArduinoMicrocontroller Conductive Thread E-Textiles C (ish) Programming Sensors Actuators Repurposing Electronics Conductive items Wearables Sound Artworks Games All Interactive
    • 13. LilyPad Arduino MicrocontrollerFabulousness Could be improved! It’s sewable!  It’s not cheap! It’s open source – you can  More modules please find the Eagle files & code  Different sizes and shapes of libraries online board Good number of digital & analogue I/O  Different microcontrollers Great vector for  An industrial version with encouraging girls/ boys possibility of using different /adults/ artists /anyone / voltages to experience electronics  More competitors, to increase It’s round (dismisses the innovation idea that electronics are  Different types of I/O sharp grey and cold) Enthusiastic & helpful community
    • 14. For a glimpse of what you can do with LilyPad Arduino & e-textiles I’d like to showyou some examples of my wearable, interactive & sound artworks!
    • 15. Twinkle Tartiflette: words, image and sound into an interactive experience,brought to life by touching the words with a stylus
    • 16. I <3 0X0: an interactive artwork, game, musical fancy and experiment in conductiveVelcro
    • 17. I wanted to create something interactiveand playful and after some pondering Idecided on a musical game of noughts &crosses!
    • 18. ‘Yr In Mah Face’: temperature /mood sensing t-shirt - uses Celsius temperaturedata from a sensor, averages it, then visualises the results via LEDs.
    • 19. ‘You Make My <3 Flutter’: proximity detecting, heart ratesensing ‘techlace’
    • 20. Don’t Break My Heart is a wearable, colour-coded distance warning systemprototype for cyclists to wear on their back
    • 21. Thank you for your attention! @Rainycat http://Rain Ashford 2012