Sensing Wearables


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In these slides I give an introduction to LilyPad Arduino and go on to talk about the myraid selection of sensors and actuators that can be used in wearable technology, followed by some examples of current wearable technology projects. I sum up with some of my thoughts on the state of play in wearable technology and what could be improved. I gave this talk at the opening plenary of Quantified Self Europe Conference in 2011.

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  • Hello, I’m Rain, work 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • What follows is an introduction to wearable sensors and acutators, plus some examples.
  • This brings me to components, focusing on sensors. I thought I should show you what actuators areas well. A sensor is defined as an input device and an actuator as an output device. A sensor takes input – that can be a stimulus, a physical quantity, property or condition which can be measured. The sensor then outputs an electrical signal – which can be current, voltage, phase or frequency and also can be via displacement for example thermometers, magnostrictive and piezoelectric sensors.Some sensors combine sensing and actuation.BTW incase you’re wondereing,magnetostriction(cf. electrostriction) is a property of ferromagnetic materials that causes them to change their shape or dimensions during the process of magnetizationActuators take an electrical signal – such as current, voltage, phase, frequency, etc, and outputs can be mechanical (force, pressure, displacement) or display function (light, display, dial, etc).
  • Here are some examples of wearable actuators - they produce an outputMotors are different to servos as the inside of a motor will just spin or work – whereas a servo contains gears and a potentiometer as well – so you can control speed and direction.Obviously you can use any actuator if you can attach it to a microcontroller or battery and the size is right!LEDs, LCD, OLEDs & electroluminescents can be seen as actuators too as they give an output.
  • There’s a huge amount and variety of sensors available, some come on PCBs and are ready to fit into bespoke housing, some are sewable, some come stand alone and some are surface mount. For wearables there’s a large variety, but we’re still at the R&D stage in many ways so some you can buy ready to sew into your work and some sensors you need and hack them together or you design your own PCB sensors and have them made up for your specific needs. Here’s a few examples, which is no way extends to everything out there and new versions of sensors are being developed for wearables all the time.
  • I’ve taken those lists of sensors and actuators and fitted them into categories of what I feel are the most important areas of wearable technology. This list isn’t exhaustive and there’s definitely a certain amount of blurring between the categories – I hope for the viewer it starts to give a bit of insight and an some idea of where the technology is lending itself in these areas. Please forgive my wibblyphotoshop skills!It’s very interesting to compare the categories. As you can see the biggest range of sensors and actuators are concentrated in military, extreme environment, self monitoring, lifestyle, are and maker’s categories. This is interesting to me for many reasons, it gives me an idea of whom is pushing the technology forward, who has the most funding and who is the most experimental and also the category with probably the least money and not much funding is equally as interested in a plethora of technologies and potential outcomes as the richest.
  • Formula 1 racing is tough on the body with forces of up to 4.5G pulling on the body as well as the driver loosing several litres of water in sweat, heightened heart rate, blood pressure, respiration and race stress.The McLaren Human Telemetry System was developed a few years ago to wirelessly monitor the vital signs of Formula 1 drivers and included sensors such as heart rate, blood oxygen levels, respiration and temperature. It came from an idea that humans could be monitored in a similar way to car telemetry data logging during races, testing and training.
  • Less than the width of a human hair, the ‘electronic tattoo’ adheres to the skin like a temporary tattoo! It is currently in development to monitor electrical activity in the heart and brain, it’s developers also feel it has potential for gamers as they managed to use it to control a simple computer game. When applied to the throat it was also able to detect differences in words such as up, down, left, right, go and stop. There’s no gels, wires or sticky pads, which often make the patient feel more uncomfortable and stressed – it sticks to the skin via water soluble plastic which makes it a bit like a temporary tattoo. It’s powered by solar cells that can generate energy or could get power from electromagnetic radiation.
  • SLIVER cells are touted to revolutionise wearable solar cells, especially for use in military and extreme environments where carrying heavy kit is sub-optimal and battery management can be difficult. Developed by the Australian National University Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems. They are the thickness of paper or human hair which makes them very light, they are also tough, flexible and bifacial, meaning they can absorb light from both sides. They can convert light into energy in various environmental conditions.
  • For me the most exciting prospect in sensor development is in micro components, for example miniature sensors and actuators in yarns and textiles. It would be so handy to have the ability to have our components already situated in the substrate of our garments. It would be fantastic to chose a fabric or a yarn that already encapsulated a sensor or actuator that I wanted to use in my work. I was very interested then, at Smart Fabrics 2011 conference to hear about the work of Nottingham Trent University, from Professor Tilak Dias. Their Centre for Research in Advanced Textiles are looking at a variety of methods for doing this. One example being micro-device encapsulation technology, in which devices are encapsulated with a flexible, hermatic seal for mechanical, thermal and electrical protection. Uses for these yarns could be in creating garments for self monitoring, medical, fashion as well as for industrial sensing purposes. I’m also hoping that this research will improve the longivity of sensors by making them washable and more sustainable.
  • Rainbow Winters is a designer who uses reactive inks, such as thermochromatic and hydrochromic as an intrinsic part of her garment design for fashion and performance. For example her Rainforest Dress changes colour when exposed to water and / or sun. In her collection she also uses sensors for her sound reactive dresses which light up electroluminescent panels.
  • If you fancy making your own wearable sensors then the KOBAKANT website is the place to go. It is full of really clever ideas for making a whole host of electronic components from sensors and actuators, plus other components. It also lists materials, tools, techniques and code for making things. KOBAKANT is an open source collaboration between Mika Satomi andHannerPerner-Wilson.
  • So to sum up, here are some of my thoughts on wearable technology & e-textiles as an emerging technology.
  • Finally, some thoughts from me on how wearable technology and e-textiles might be improved.
  • Thanks for your attention!
  • Sensing Wearables

    1. 1. Sensing Wearablesexploring sensors for wearable technology Rain Ashford | http://rainycatz.wordpress
    2. 2. Agenda Introduction  Hello!  Microcontrollers  Makers, Hackers & communities Sensors vs. Actuators  What’s a sensor?  What’s an actuator? Examples of usage in wearable technology Conclusions on wearable technology
    3. 3. I create interactive wearables and art, working with many flavours ofmicrocontrollers & various components…
    4. 4. LilyPad Arduino Microcontroller Conductive Thread E-Textiles C (ish) Programming Sensors Actuators Hacked Electronics Conductive items Wearables Sound Artworks Games All Interactive
    5. 5. LilyPad Arduino Microcontroller Fabulousness Could be improved! It’s sewable!  It’s not cheap! It’s open source – you can find  More modules please the Eagle files & code libraries online  Different sizes and shapes of Good number of digital & board analogue I/O  Different microcontrollers Great vector for encouraging girls/ boys /adults/ artists /anyone / to experience  An industrial version with electronics possibility of using different voltages It’s round (dismisses the idea that electronics are sharp grey  More competitors, to increase and cold) innovation Enthusiastic & helpful community  Different types of I/O
    6. 6. A few examples of my wearableelectronics & artworks…
    7. 7. There’s a fantastic community for hardware & code hackers, makers & enthusiasts in the UK
    8. 8. ..oh yes I was going to talk about sensors!
    9. 9. Components: Sensors vs. ActuatorsA sensor is an input device / an actuator an output deviceSensors Actuators Input: stimulus / A physical  Input: electrical signal - current, quantity, property, or condition voltage, phase, frequency, etc, which is measured  Output: mechanical (force, Output: electrical signal - pressure, displacement) or display current, voltage, phase, frequency function (light, display, dial indication, etc)Variations: output can sometimes bedisplacement:thermometers, magnetostrictive andpiezoelectric sensors.Some sensors combine sensing *and*actuation.
    10. 10. Actuators for wearable technology include… LEDs  Electroluminescent Wire LCD / OLED Display Servos Motors Piezoelectric buzzers Speakers Electroluminescent Panels
    11. 11. Sensors for wearable technology include… Optical, Light & Sound  GPS Temperature & Humidity  Compass / magnetic field Energy Harvesting  Weight Radiation / Environment  Pressure / Force Heart Rate  RFID Proximity / object detection  Electric Current / Potential Gas & Liquid / Chemical  Touch Inertial  WiFi Biosensor  EEG
    12. 12. Some examples of projects using sensors in wearable technology…
    13. 13. Sports McLaren Human Telemetry SystemOriginally developed for F1, also used in sports such as football, rugby, & cycling Combines several sensors:  Heart  Blood Oxygen  Respiratory  Temperature Future:  Looking into core temp via swallow-able thermometer pill to combat heat exhaustion  Sensors woven into fabrics  Bespoke sensor shirts
    14. 14. Medical University of Illinois: Epidermal ElectronicsLess than the width of a human hair, adheres to the skin like a temporary tattoo Currently in development to monitor:  Heart  Brain  Muscle activity  Could also be used for gaming Powered from energy from:  Solar Cells  Electromagnetic Radiation Features:  Stretchy – moves with skin  Less invasive than traditional sensors  No gels / sticky pads / wires  Adheres to the skin via water soluble plastic
    15. 15. Military / Extreme EnvironmentThe Australian National University: SLIVER cells Lightweight and tough bifacial solar panels Features:  Lightweight – paper/ hair thickness  Tough  Bifacial – absorbs light on both sides  Flexible  Can be used in various environmental conditions
    16. 16. Self Monitoring / Lifestyle Nottingham Trent University: Micro‐device Encapsulation TechnologyElectronically Active Intelligent Yarn for Self Monitoring, Medical, Fashion & Industrial Sensor Yarns might include:  Strain measurement  Temperature Measurement  Fluid / Gas Measurement  Radiation Sensing  Light measurement  Acoustic measurement  Motion detection  Pressure measuement
    17. 17. Fashion / Performance Rainbow Winters: Sensing FashionUses sensing inks and components for fashion & performance garments Garments include use of:  Thermochromatic ink  Hydrochromic ink  Sound sensing  Electroluminescents  Holographic fabrics
    18. 18. Art / Making KOBAKANT: How To Get What You WantOnline database of range of wearable technology and soft circuit solutions Sensor making instructions inc:  Conductive PomPom  Crochet Button  Crochet Tilt Poteniometer  Fabric Stretch Sensors  Felted Crochet Pressure  Knit Contact Switch  Knit Accelerometer
    19. 19. Wearable Tech / E-Textiles An emerging technology Is at a stage similar to where personal computing was in the 80s, but it’s on the verge of an explosion of ideas & manufacture Interest in sensing wearables is predominant in entertainment, sport, medical, extreme envirnoments, military and lifestyle areas and is where the funding opportunities are Obviously lots of opportunity al for innovation and room for more start-ups/creators – but artists and makers need more industry support working as sole traders with expensive components & flaky business arrangements Exciting advancements in research for creators – such as embeded micro components, MEMS, inks and fabric pick & place sewing machines Conductive embroidery / weave which has embeded LEDs, electroluminescents, sensors & acutators will change the aesthetics of designing circuitry
    20. 20. Wearable Tech / E-Textiles will be improved by… Emerging tech could thrive faster with more open source collaboration and sharing of ideas Smart fabrics & wearable technology is still looking for a killer app to bring it closer to mainstream acceptability / integration Necessity for more standards and classifications Sustainability – recycling, reusing, repurposing - supply chain isn’t yet set up for wearable tech A lot of focus on the technology, but not enough on what the consumer wants: design, uses, size Marketing focus – sales, dissemination, tech know how - how do we help the public understand and use? Developments in battery / power supply tech: less bulky, better longevity, lighter, comfortable Washable circuits, sensors and microcontrollers – to gain acceptability they need robustness and logivity
    21. 21. Many thanks! @Rainycat Rain Ashford 2011