Embrace: jackets for good vibrations

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Jackets: working prototypes

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Embrace jackets are wearable jackets embedded with vibration motors that are triggered by pressure. Each jacket represents the two extreme personalities of people are physically affectionate. Each jacket sends vibrations to the person they are hugging. However, when worn together, the jackets complete a circuit. The vibration simulates the transfer of energy from one person to another, while the connected circuit represents the natural connection between people.

To make this circuit, first I prototyped with alligator clips and then made sure the two circuits closed each other. I decided to put 3 LEDs in the back of each jacket. This was to make the visual consistent and ensure that lights would be visible.

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I tested the circuits by having two people hug with the conductive fabric taped to the front of the jackets.

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Once I was comfortable with the placement, I decided to start building the circuit in the actual jacket. I started with the long jacket. The challenge was the the LED legs went through the fabric, meaning that when I soldered the legs together with stranded wire, there would be no way to adjust the placement of the circuit if needed. It was also challenging soldering over fabric. Overall, this actually wasn’t as bad as I anticipated, only time-consuming. It took about a day to do each jacket.

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Although I love the look of the back with the LEDs, I definitely think I lost that simple, clean look on the front with conductive fabric. I wanted to ensure that no matter how a person hugged, the fabric would touch. This meant that I wanted to cover as much area as possible with conductive fabric, which ultimately makes the jackets look a little messy. To build on this, I would like to laser cut a design, or even cut a design in the conductive fabric to make it more visually appealing.

If you’re wondering if I’m happy with the result, the answer is very much so, yes!

Almost to the end

The past two weeks a lot has been happening in my personal life that has definitely strengthened my need for hugs. It’s been a difficult and emotional two weeks and I have honestly not put in enough work into my wearable project as I would necessarily like.

What I have are two working jackets that vibrate when people hug. I user-tested with some people who weren’t aware of the vibration motors and when they hugged, it not only gave a lot of happiness, it also made people hug for longer.

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*Full picture to come*

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Strengthening the concept: hug jacket personalities

This past week I wanted to explore more about how the two jackets could work together to create the experience I am trying to create. I had decided a few weeks ago to build two jackets that would work together to emphasize the power of hugging, as well as simulate the transfer of energy from one person to the other. There are many wearables about hugs that already exist, many of which focus on the feeling of a hug, particularly the positive effects of being comforted. One of the most well-known examples of this is the Hug Machine by Temple Grandin–a machine that emulates the feeling of being hugged for people with autism, who have problems with being physically touched. I have been thinking a lot about what I want out of this project, what I want to say, and explore. I’ve also been talking to as many people as possible about what I’m working on to truly understand how to articulate what I’m making–

This project explores how to encourage people to hug and how hugs can tap into the power of being vulnerable. We know that we need hugs and at this point of my process I believe this whole-heartedly, based on scientific research, as well as my own self-observance of when I get the urge to hug someone. However, what I’ve learned is that that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone feels confidence or comfortable enough to hug someone unless it’s the result of predictable, hugging situation, such as a friend’s family member has passed away, or simply saying goodbye. We need hugs all day long and it is not only for reasons of despair, total happiness, or sadness. It’s just because we need hugs. The question(s) I’m asking through the project is, How can I encourage people to hug? Who are the people who are naturally more physically affectionate? After thinking about these types of questions I circled back to my idea to have two jackets–okay so on the physical computing side, two jackets could complete a circle, cool. But why is that important for this project? What does a completing circuit add to the project in a conceptual way?

I decided to leave these questions on the side and focus back to the form of the jacket(s). In thinking about this, I thought again about the fabrics I should use for the final garment. I asked Jingwen if I could ask her for recommendations on fabrics and she asked what feeling did I want out of the fabric. I should her the first jacket I had made with spacer and faux leather sleeves:

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And she said this doesn’t give me the feeling for someone who would hug a lot, which is ironically the type of feeling I was going for–I wanted to convey the feeling of someone who you wouldn’t normally expect to hug to hug. Yet because this project is not solely conceptual, I thought as a designer I must create the jackets in a meaningful way that the user or viewer of the project is confused by why I made the jackets the way I did. And then I thought, what if each jacket represented the type of personalities of people who are extremely physically affectionate and those who not at all. In other words, one jacket will be very warm, inviting, and bubbly, while the other will project a type of person who isn’t comfortable with hugging or being physically affectionate.

This is a working prototype of the very physically affectionate personality. It has a softer look by being longer and looser fit and a little color.  This jacket was much more challenging to make the right size. I ended up adding about an inch of the faux leather on each side to widen the torso, as it was too tight.

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Having two jackets now makes having two circuits complete each other make so much sense! I experimented with two circuits, one with an LED as the output and one with a vibration motor as the output. Below I also experimented the placement of the circuit on the jacket.

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Next steps:

I just received more vibration motors. I plan to make a few more pressure sensors with vibration motors. Sew in soft enclosure pockets in the jackets. Continue researching fabrics and experimenting with color.

 

Progress: form, fabric, questions

This week I focused mostly on construction of the jacket. I went to Spandex World and bought 1 yard of neoprene and 1 yard of a faux leather. To make a harder look, I wanted to have the sleeves be leather and the chest be neoprene, especially since the neoprene is very soft and gives a sensation like a hug.

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To construct the jacket I used the jacket I used last week, which is a long sleeved shirt made out of jersey material. Since I wasn’t sure how to make a pattern, and didn’t find sufficient information by searching the internet, I just used the parts of the shirt. I then cut the neoprene into the different parts.

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After I had the torso, I used the same method on the faux leather to make the sleeves. After I pinned and sewed them, I sewed the sleeves onto the neoprene.

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Although I still have a lot to do, I am happy with these results. What I learned from this experience is that I might need to consider using a third material for where the vibration motors will be. I made a new pressure sensor with a vibration motor and then sewed in a small enclosure into the inside of the jacket.

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I thought about also having other sensors triggered by closing the circuit with another jacket. Ideally, I will make two jackets that will somehow interact with each other. I considered using exposed conductive velcro, but this would mean that that placement of the velcro is crucial in order to be sure the vibration motors are triggered.

Progress: magnets + vibration + form

This week I worked a lot with how my garment would look on the body and thought about how it would feel. Last week I picked up some swatches from Mood, and I believe it will end up being a very soft, squishy neoprene material. I wanted to first lay out how it would look on the body and how a person would wear it. I took a long-sleeved shirt and decided to use that to cut out what I wanted, which I would later construct using the final material.

I want there to be a focus on the shoulders and chest. I haven’t envisioned this to be a full jacket, but something closer to a cropped jacket. I cut out the material from the top buttons down. I like the idea of keeping the buttons, as it could give me a better sense on how the final product will be put on and worn.

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Once I had a jacket that I liked, I thought about adding another piece of fabric to be meant for an enclosure for the vibration motors. This also gave me more ideas about how I could design it to have more personality.

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After this I played around with the placement of magnets in the sleeves. I had bought two types of magnets, and I just taped them to the sleeves to test the placement.

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Then I wanted to see if I could a circuit going using magnets. I used an LED as the output here and a reed switch to sense the magnetism. It took me some time but I got it working. So happy!

Then I switched out the LED and put a vibration motor as the output.

 

Switching gears: hugs

This past week a lot of changes have occurred. Lindsey and I spent all of Friday and Sunday fabricating and building a circuit for our idea to have a jacket that produces sounds based on movement. It was possibly after having a physical form of the idea that I felt personally underwhelmed with the overall concept. The moment I began thinking about this I talked to Lindsey who understood my concern. This led to us thinking about other project ideas and contemplating the idea of going our separate ways with the project.

I spent the past few days thinking about what I want to get of wearables, who I want to design for, and trying to free myself from feeling creatively blocked. After speaking with Despina on Monday I started thinking about what I believe to be one of my strengths, the ability to make people feel comfortable. As a teacher this was something that allowed me to connect with many students from various cultural backgrounds and ages, and ultimately allowed them to trust me. Having my students trust me meant that they felt safe to try new things, make mistakes, and boost their academic self-esteem. This got me thinking, how can I create a wearable that did something similar.

This led to paths of many different ideas. I thought about Temple Grandin, one of the most famous autistic women of the 20th century, who not only revolutionized how cattle were slaughtered, but also invented her personal “hug box”. This idea for her invention was triggered after she saw that when cattle were frightened, they would be put inside of a type of machine that would squeeze them to calm them down. This resonated with Temple, as an autistic person who couldn’t be physically touched, but felt the human need to be hugged in moments of panic, anxiety, and fear. This led me to research about wearables related to hugs, and boy are there a lot. Here are a few:

The jacket that inflates upon Facebook likes

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T Jacket: the jacket that calms and comforts kids

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The Hug Shirt: the shirt that sends hugs

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These leads to me to the direction I want to go in in this crazy hugging world. An aspect I am very interested in is why we need hugs and the cultural differences of hugs. This personal interest stems from my own experience:

As an American I grew up in a family that was loving, but not very affectionate. We hugged to say bye, sometimes, and kissed rarely. This was not rare among my friends and their families and growing up I thought it was strange to see “overly-affectionate” people in movies displaying their affection. As someone with some degree of anxiety being touched had become not just something I disliked, but something I anticipated in fear. However, two years my perspective of this changed drastically and after doing some hugging research I believe there could be some scientific proof as to why–

I began dating a Brazilian two years ago. Brazilian culture is very, very affectionate. Friends are like family. And people you meet once are even treated in a loving way. Everyone hugs. So many hugs. And you know what I learned rather quickly, it feels good! I can’t help but crack a huge smile when I get an unexpected hug, I even find something hugging in the middle of conversation. I believe it has a part of me allowing myself to be more vulnerable and open to new things. I want to explore this in my wearable project.

I began thinking about what I want my wearable to be and what I don’t want it to be. In order to do this I decided to go around and hug people. I chose 5 random people to hug and asked them how they felt before and after the hug.

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Interesting things I found: there were some cultural differences brought up in hugging that I am going to explore a bit deeper. This won’t be a main focus of my project, but something that’s helping to drive research and understand people’s responses to hugs. One of the main points I will focus on is the power of vulnerability in hugs, in that hugs make us feel more vulnerable, yet also make us feel safe and in turn refill confidence. It’s a moment between two people where one or both let each other be weak, while they trust the other will give them the strength they need. What I found interesting is that the more I went around and hugged people, the more excited I felt, and at the same time the more nervous I felt. By the last hug, I felt like I had a  lot of energy, and I was more enthusiastic sounding, yet while I was speaking to the huggee, my voice was shaking a bit.

Another experiment I did was ask someone to go around and hug other people. Renata was nice enough to be my hug model and she went around and gave people hugs.

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I began building an initial prototype to understand the placement on the body and get a better sense of how this wearable would work. Something I considered was using a proximity sensor that when someone came closer, a part of the garment would inflate, or there would be some kind of soft and comfortable reaction in order to encourage someone to hug the other person.

I connected a proximity sensor to an Arduino Uno, then I found a black piece of fabric, which I cut and folded to make an enclosure. I sewed sections on it to play with the placement. Then I put the proximity sensor inside and read the values of when it go closer. To give the feeling I’m interested in giving, I took a memory foam pillow and cut it into squares then put that inside of the black fabric. To test this, I wore it over my shoulder and asked people to hug me to see how it felt.

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In thinking about how to explore an exchange of energy between two people I thought about using vibration. I made a soft pressure sensor with a vibration motor.

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Building the initial prototype

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We started building an initial prototype for our wearable project. It really helped to understand the direction of our project after having something physical. The first thing we did was make sure we could get a working circuit. We met with Joe Mango who’s also doing a wearable interactive music project and helped us understand more about wires and sensors that are useful. We first got a circuit working with a flex sensor and two switches.

Once the circuit was good, we moved over to some fabrication. We started with a piece of muslin I found in the soft lab. I draped it over the mannequin and simple marked where arm holes could be. Then I cut out arm holes. I had this “amazing” idea to separate the piece into parts of a vest and sleeves. The vest would be for the placement of the microcontroller, whereas the sleeves would be where all the sensors would go.

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Once the vest part was made, I sewed in an enclosure in the back for the microcontroller to sit during prototyping.

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Since we had one mock sleeve with a flex sensor, we made another sleeve that would enclose the other flex sensor in order to simulate two flex sensors, one on each arm.

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The next step in the prototype was to add sleeves. I did this by cutting the sleeves off a shirt and then sewing them onto the vest.

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Reflection on Reading

“Interaction is a way of framing the relationship between people and objects designed for them—and thus a way of framing the activity of design.” This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about this semester, as I am taking another class about physical interaction design. I see this as describing the process of how what we design affects and creates our choreography. In that the affordances of an object dictate our relationship with it. Taking this idea even further, my overall take away from this article is the dialogue between a human and a object is the essential part of the interaction. I see this especially with the example of the interaction between a human and a computer. The human gives the input and the computer gives the output. But is that where the interaction ends? It seems the most meaningful way in relation to what we’re trying to do in this class, is to create a continuous dialogue between the user and the object itself.

Week 3: Objects and their lives

My project idea for what I want to produce this semester in Wearables has changed yet again. I knew from the get-go that I wanted to do something with movement, which has stemmed from my belief that people learn more effectively through movements. As a teacher I would always warm my students up by teaching them the “Electric Slide”. Many think this a joke of some kind, or even something fun I would do with my students, but really, it was a critical component of how I structured my classes and each lesson. Through ITP, I am exploring how to design things that make people move more, while engaging them in an experience.

Accessible and private are two words I use to describe a lot of my ideas and projects. This is a key reason why I want to explore wearable technology. I want to create a wearable that is accessible for anyone, but also provides a private experience, and can be smoothly integrated into everyday life.

Lindsey and I will be working together for this project. Our goal is to make a wearable shirt that encourages and gives feedback of movements.

The shirt will have sensors, likely fabric bend sensors in the shoulders of the shirt that are mapped to sounds via BLE to a mobile phone.

Below is a sketch of the type of movements that a user could do to produce sounds.

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Why?

With this wearable, we will be exploring how to encourage people to move with the pleasurable feedback of sound. This will in turn help users become more aware of their bodies and body movements.

Who?

People who are interested in understanding their body movements. This is an everyday wearable, meaning that we are not making this as a performance component. A person can wear this shirt in their own time to receive feedback that can be private or shared.

What?

A shirt with bend/flex sensors woven into the shoulders that sends data to a mobile device BLE.

How?

We’re still exploring fabrics for the shirt itself, but it will be made out of a stretchy and durable material.

Here is a mood/inspiration board:

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  1. What is the purpose of the artifact you are designing?

The purpose is to encourage body movement by having pleasant musical feedback. If people are incentivized by music, will they move more? This artifact will help to recreate the perception of our bodies when it’s seen as a tool to create what we hear. Listening to music is typically a passive experience with dancing as a result of the music. We are going to explore how one’s body moves if the movement, or “dance” comes first.

  1. Why does it exist?

Music is powerful in my ways. It can excite us, or calm us down. It even can help us remember, according to Michael Rossato-Bennett’s film, “Still Alive” that documents how music improves the lives of people with dementia. This would help music become more accessible, as it would essentially be apart of your body. Another important element of this object is that it would encourage people to move. With the evolution of technology, people are more sedentary than ever. According to James A. Levine, an obesity specialist at Mayo Clinic, “It’s the disease of our time. Any extended sitting can be harmful” (www.lifespanfitness.com).

  1. What will it DO? (How will it do it – but you can only answer this if you are clear about the rest of the answers)

As a person moves it will play parts of a song, or notes from a song, enabling a person to interact and recreate music with their bodies. It will have flex sensors in the shoulders of the shirt, which will be mapped to different samples of a song or notes. Each movement will have a corresponding sound.

  1. How does it work? Step-by-step – (you open a box, a drawer, you plug it in, you charge it, you press on a button to activate it or it is always on… etc
  • Put on the shirt.
  • Connect your phone using App via BLE to activate connection
  • Move and listen for music feedback 
  1. Why would someone want to use it? What do you add to their life? Remember that value is shared, applied based on some sort of value system onto objects. So think about communication, and shared values.

Humans love music. It can be personalized to fit their emotions, taste, or activity. We love alone through our headphones, or at large events with amplified sound. When we listen to music we tend to move, but not everyone is comfortable with dancing or using their body to express their feelings. This wearable would combine an interactive experience with music, in which a person has control of what their hearing, the natural impulse to move, with the encouragement to use their body as a tool to personalize their musical experience. It can be a shared experience as well either with a performance or by two people creating a music with together.

  1. What is your anchor?

The key idea is that we love music and need to move more. With this wearable the movement controls the music, rather than the other way. It gives people the chance to express how they want to interact with the music they hear through their bodies.

  1. Describe in 1 paragraph your project

We will be creating a shirt that has flex or bend sensors in the shoulders. In possible later iterations, we will have sensors in the elbows and wrists. The sensors will be mapped to sounds of music programmed in a mobile device via BLE. Our main demographic of users people interested in increasing their awareness of their body movements and encouraging those to move more.

Next steps:

-Explore different bend and flex sensors

http://stretchsense.com/

http://www.bebopsensors.com/

-Create soft bend sensors

http://www.instructables.com/id/Fabric-bend-sensor/

-Exploring and research movements

-Research and understand stretching limitations

-Explore different elements of sounds, i.e, will the pitch or tempo change by movement?

Sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GM0MJBnLENA

https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/hackers-in-residence—sound-and-motion-reactivity-for-wearables

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/376537646/remidi-first-wearable-instrument-to-record-play-an?ref=category

http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/11/moff/

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/the-power-of-music-mind-control-by-rhythmic-sound/

http://www.bendlabs.com/

Reflection on readings

Again I am drawn to this new perspective that textiles are technology. Although we went over this in the first week, I’m still so fascinated and inspired by this. This quote from “The Hand-Helds” put everything into a clear site, “The device on which you’re reading this essay is technology, but so is whatever you’re wearing” (Chaplin). In some ways this is a lesson on gratitude and simplicity. There is so much technology everywhere, and some of the most successful pieces of technology have become so seamlessly integrated into our lives that their innovation is overlooked. Through wearable technology we have the choice to design things that are obtrusive or unobtrusive to our lives. That choice alone impacts so much on my thinking, in that it shows how powerful wearables can be.

Week 2: design, wearability, and the human body

After class on Monday I thought more about what I wanted to achieve in this class. Despina talked a lot about the design process and everything that goes into a design. What stuck out the most, is something I’ve tried to stay true to even before ITP, and that is making something meaningful.

Right before this semester started, almost a week exactly to the first day of Wearables, I found out via a group chat with my dad and three siblings that my grandma was in the hospital. This is a difficult thing to hear when someone you’re close with, who is far away, is sick or hurt. The morning before my mom had taken my grandma to her favorite place in the entire world, her beauty shop, that she’s been going to for 20+ years, in the southeast side of Chicago, two blocks away from the apartment she lived in for 50 years. That night, looking fabulous as ever, she slid, yes, slid, out of her wheelchair and broke her femur bone. That is one, if not the largest bone in our body. And it cracked like stale piece of bread. She didn’t fall, she wasn’t trying to do anything out of her physical capability. The material of her pants was too smooth against the wheelchair seat, and she wasn’t able to stop herself. Since the break was so large, she had to get surgery. The issue is that is 91, but everything looked safe enough for her to proceed, and they did the surgery in order to implant a metal rod into her leg. She thankfully survived the surgery, but the recovery she is now in, is gruesomely painful.

It really makes you think about your health. Your bones. We have bones and sometimes we break them, but we rarely talk about them until we are older. Bone health isn’t something we discuss on a daily basis, yet it becomes a huge part of lives as we grow into a later age. We are told to drink our milk as children, and then our bones are put on the back burner. Another thing is circulation, something that could affect so many other parts of our day to day health.

With all of this said, I am inspired to create a pair of pants that create vibration when a person is sitting. How this would be made is creating a soft button that would be sewn in the seated part of the pants. When a person sits, it would activate the vibration sensors. The sensors would be placed in sewn in pouches in 4 parts of the pants–the left thigh, right thigh, left ankle, right ankle. The vibration sensors would then turn out for a timed period in intervals while seated.

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Problem/opportunity: to create circulation throughout the legs and improve bone health.

Target user: a person who spends most of their times seated, due to old age, injury, etc.

Questions/Issues:

Would there be a way to turn off the vibrations for a person who spends more than 90% seated?

How can the vibration sensors be connected to the soft button, and allow them to be changed out if necessary?

Why vibration?

Vibration is seen (or felt) in many wearables today. It is something that has become a way for us to receive information in a more personal way, i.e. getting a text from a vibrating phone. We also see benefits in vibration with things like teeth cleaning, and even massage chairs. But this concept is more about vibration as a means of therapy and improving one’s life.

According to this article in Hypervibe, these are 5 reason vibration is good for elderly people:

Benefits of vibration exercises
1. Vibration exercises decrease the risk of falls and improve balance
2. Whole body vibration improves endurance and body composition
3. Exercising on a vibration machine helps with lower pain
4. Whole body vibration exercises improve speed of motion in older women
5. WBV reduces arterial stiffness in the middle-aged and elderly
These are amazing benefits for elderly, especially that 67% of elderly people are sedentary for more than 8.5 hours a day (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3881132/).
This project below was done by Smart Textile Services (CRISP), which is a wearable sweater that has vibrations embedded into the fabric. The vibrations are triggered with touch. (http://dqi.id.tue.nl/sts/vibe-ing/nggallery/page/2/; http://fashioningtech.com/profiles/blogs/wearable-tech-for-vibration-therapy).
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This shows that people are becoming more aware of the benefits of vibration therapy. If wearables are starting to be developed for people recovering from injuries and bone loss, then I believe this is a great opportunity to approach this idea from the perspective aiming at elderly people.
Current wearables for the elderly
There are many wearables created for wearables, and also many startups that are popping up with the elderly as their main focus http://newsroom.cisco.com/feature-content?articleId=1709602
http://technical.ly/baltimore/2015/09/14/7-startups-helping-seniors/

The wearables now that are aimed at seniors are mostly hardware, e.g. watching necklaces, etc. These tend to track data for fall risk, monitor their daily activities for a loved one to track, or help organize a senior’s life.  This issue with these is they can be stigmatizing for elderly people. Many don’t want to bring more attention that their lives are less independent and they constantly need someone to look after them.

In particular, my grandma even though she is 91 and hasn’t had a car in almost 10 years, she still talks about how she wants to just go for a drive. It seems she is almost disappointed in her state that her daughter and grandchildren do everything for her, when she did everything for them. This is why I want to create something that isn’t obtrusive and also is something that could help her feel more in control. If I use BLE to control the vibration sensors, then she could set the vibration cycles to her liking.

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Reading reflection:

All three readings were very helpful in forming my idea for my project. I was very surprised by the reading, “Design for Life”–as someone who has only began thinking about design since beginning ITP, I find it really fascinating that biomimicry isn’t about designing for humans, but about using nature to help us understand how to design things we need. We want to design things that will last and have the promise to be natural additions to our lives. This is something I find very interesting about wearable technology in general. Only in the short time of this course, my perspective of wearables has changed significantly. Wearables seem to be more about how to design and create things that help us improve our lives without making something intrusive and overwhelming.

In “Designing for Wearability” I found it helpful to start considering all of the components that go into designing a wearable. Weight and size are two things I hadn’t considered much in the design of my project, and are especially important to consider. I think I will need to do a lot of user testing to ensure the vibration sensor vibrate in the same capacity on different body sizes.

I have mixed emotions from the article, “Why the Human Body will be the Next Computer Interface”– I do believe that wearable technology allows us the opportunity to use the human body as its own medium. I know that Kate Hartman talks a lot about this in a more art-based perspective, which I find interesting and something I had never considered. However the perspective of Fjords took it a little bit out of my imagination. And it’s funny to me that I’m having this reaction the reading, because I often think about how our phones will eventually be apart of us. But I guess I’ve always thought of it in a Jetsons kind of, this won’t actually happen in the time I’m living in. And now from the reading, it kind of makes sense with the progression of computers. Not sure how I feel about it. I guess my question is how do we design this that creates more movement in people’s everyday lives. With embedded interaction, it basically means we are embodying our mobile devices in our mobile bodies. How do we create external environments that encourage or force us to move more than just a small swipe, or moving our fingers to press keys?

Weave a circuit (part 2):

I re-did my assignment from last week and am much happier with the result. This time around I only used the felt fabric to make the soft button and sewed the circuit on muslin. I also made the ground line much longer than the power, which I think helped.

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Week 1: weaving, spinning, design

 

Last semester for my final project I got a small taste of wearable technology. The tech part came second, but I had an idea to make interactive gloves and a cape that reacts when a user puts it on. I had no idea that would lead me down the road to wearables. Since then I have become slightly more aware of the wearables around me and their ingrained presence in our everyday lives. In all honesty, before ITP I didn’t even know what “hardware” meant and had no idea that something like an Apple watch would be something I would identify as a wearable. Same goes for soft circuitry; I remember being utterly confused as to why we had sewing machines. I didn’t understand how sewing had anything to do with technology.

Why of all this is relevant is because I found the same theme in the reading, “Losing the Thread” by  Virginia Postrel. I found this essay very interesting on multiple levels–the most obvious is the connection between textiles and technology and the misconception that all wearables are clunky, hard gadgets that we wear. Rather than being the fabric we wear. This reminds me of an article I read after CES 2016 about a sports bra that was presented. The OmBra by Omsignal is a sports bra that not only functions in the traditional wearable sense, as an activity tracker of many sorts, but also a very comfortable bra that accommodates the many varying issues women face while exercising. When the Co-Founder and CEO of Omsignal, Stephanie Marceau was asked about the future of wearables, she responded that soon the hardware will disappear, as smart textiles emerge. Both of these articles have helped to change my perspective in wearables, that’s less about making clothes light up and more about how to make everyday clothes have a greater purpose in making our lives more meaningful. I am very interested to explore this during the semester.

Weaving a circuit:

To weave a circuit, I ended up just sewing a circuit. I used 2 LEDs, two small pieces of conductive fabric, a 3 Volt battery, felt, and two types of conductive thread. I have very little experience sewing a circuit, but I do know that the longer the conductive thread, the more resistive it is, which I learned the hard way. I wanted to do something with a soft button.

Supplies: glue, sticks, conductive thread, conductive fabric, 3V coin cell battery, and felt

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The first thing I did was draw out the circuit.

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The first thing I did was roll the legs of the LEDs in order to sew the thread into them. I tested the sides a few times with the coin cell battery to ensure I knew which was positive and ground. Then I cut small slits in the pink felt (I found in the soft lab), then I pushed the LEDs through. Once I had that I tested the conductive thread with the battery. Everything was good. Then I began to to sew. Once I sewed them in, it seemed everything was fine. My next step was to make a soft switch. My plan was to use a small piece of a hard foam I found in the soft lab. I cut a rectangle in side of it and then attached conductive fabric to each side. To adhere it, I just used electric tape. Since I didn’t have a coin cell battery holder, I cut out two very small pieces of conductive fabric to attached to each side of the battery. I used duct tape to attach them. After testing this, I decided to make a small enclosure for the battery with the same pink felt. Of course, after sewing this, and testing it again with my circuit it didn’t work. I spoke with Teresa about it, and she played with it, and concluded that the thread was so thin that it was too resistive for the circuit. She suggested going over each power and ground line with another round of conductive thread, which is shown below. Although this allowed me to close the circuit, I still wasn’t able to execute my original plan of having a soft switch. However, I learned a lot from sewing this circuit and excited to continue practicing.

 

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Mood/Inspiration board:

This semester I really want to explore smart textiles and create something that is useful for everyday life. In conjunction with my Muscle class with Nancy Nowacek, I want to create something that inspires, requires, and celebrates movement. In my mood board, I chose pictures of “everyday” women, as I would like to focus on making something for women. I chose a lot of soft, but bold colors.

I want it to feel like something that feels natural, and not intrusive. My goal would be to create something that looks like something a woman already wears or uses, but function in a way that makes people feel good and get more enjoyment out of mundane tasks.

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Inspiration board

Track a garment:

I chose this vest as my favorite garment. It’s actually a new addition to my wardrobe, but I love its versatility, texture, and it’s balance of hard and soft. The outside of the vest is made to look like distressed leather. The texture looks rough, sort of like a worn leather motorcycle jacket. However, the touch is smooth. It’s a nice contrast to the fur on the inside of the jacket. The fur also has a lot texture and feels soft, and pillow-like.

In order to make this, I think that the outside of the jacket was cut first. The vest does not close although, in fact, not only is there only one button near the bottom of the fur lining, it is also cut so the bottom is open, which gives a very casual look. I think once the shape of the vest was made, the fur lining was cut to fit the faux leather. It seems that another centimeter was left, so that the fur is visible in the pockets, arm holes, and inside lining.

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