Expressive Wearables

“The Presence of Stress”


The initial concept of this piece is to let other people know whether I’m free to talk or I’m busy with my headphone on. The headphone has a great feature, it can switch between ambient sound mode which allows the user to hear the surrounding sound within a preferred distance and quiet mode for the noise-cancelling purpose. It is very helpful for me since I have many lectures to watch and the quietness allows me to focus when doing homework. The mode-switching function is convenient,  I don’t need to take off my headphone to hear other people’s taking. Yet it sometimes becomes inconvenient when other people talk to me, they don’t know whether I can hear them or not. So I want to design something that can show my availability for conversation.

As I worked on the design, I found out that it is closely associated with my pressure. When I’m relaxed, I seek people to meet my social need. When I have some negative emotional swings, I can maintain a normal conversation, but I preferred to listen to music. When I’m under excessive stress, I want to isolate myself from the outside world to calm myself down.

Instead of an indicator for my headphone mode, it is more of an indicator of my stress and willingness to socialize in practice.



The objective is to display the modes straight forward, so I picked three primary colours: blue, yellow, and red.

Blue means I’m in a relaxed mode with the ambient sound function on, people can talk to me about anything and expect me to respond. Yellow means I still have works to do; it’s okay to talk to me but I may give short responses and go back to my ongoing task. Red means I’m under stress and busy with my work, I wish to stay alone before I can deal with this stress properly.

Another important objective is easy to switch. Therefore, I chose a headband as the base material and switching between three modes by a simple shift of the headphone.



I first started with programming. After I drew the basic circuit layout on the fabric, I started with sewing.

(initial testing with alligator wire before sewing the circuit)


(testing the connectivity while sewing)process2

(It’s really hard to find the thread on patterned fabric, so I outlined the flow of the circuit beside the threads. The unconnected part of A6 and A4 are left for the conductive fabric on the headphone to complete)


(this is my original idea of the headphone, yet later I found it is too short to connect the pin and the ground)


(A reworked version. The folds of the headscarf make the circuit hard to connect, so I decided to use a longer piece of conductive fabric that can cover each place.)


Final Result

(expecting conversation, finished homework and have nothing to do)

blue1 blue2

(thinking about ongoing tasks, a little anxious)yellow1 yellow2

(stressed out, watching anatomy lectures and editing my history essay)red1 red2

Material List

  • USB cable
  • needle
  • normal thread
  • conductive thread
  • scissors
  • headphones
  • conductive fabric
  • CPX


Circuit Diagram


Reflections & Next Steps

This is an interesting and fun experience, the hardest part would be threading the needle. I tried to incorporate the sound feature yet found it quite disturbing and didn’t know how to set it to play the sound once when switching mode instead of looping.

This assignment made me interested in CPX and electronic wearables. I learned how much potential it has through my own experience. I wish to continue to explore the features of CPX in my future projects and exploration journals.


Prior, O. (2021). Digital Switches & Buttons Overview. Retrieved from

Prior, O. (2021). Sound, Movement, Light, and Vibration. Retrieved from

Assignment 1: Speculative Wearable

Student Number:3184186




Smart Sticker is a clothing sticker that functions as a digital display screen. Clothing stickers are small patches that are often used to cover ripped holes. Smart Sticker has a different concept in mind, it is an interface for people to express their uniqueness. Current temperature, news headline, you can put anything you like on it. It can put on the majority of textiles and is controlled by software and comes in different shapes.

Imagine you are listening to your favourite song and eager to share it with anyone you met, why don’t display it on Smart Sticker, so everyone who walks past you would see it. Be a walking clock and remind everyone that time worth money. Or bring some fun to the party by being a walking cinema. If you prefer to stay out of attention, simply use it to display your silly sketch. Having some freshness without buying a new piece of clothing!

For small pieces of Smart Stick such as a stripe, stick it on your beanie or bucket hat with your monthly motto. For unique shapes such as a koi fish (see image below), stick it on your skinny jeans or leggings with the mood detector, show others how you felt. For larger pieces, there is a great possibility to explore.

Smart Sticker can also be put into commercial use. Promoting a brand or a product with the video/image display function. Use it as a dynamic name tag when holding events.


The objective of this design is to use clothes as a second media space for people to express themselves. We are active online but rarely have the same enthusiasm in the real life. I hope Smart Sticker can be a bridge between the digital space and real life, allow people to explore their creativity and let them play with its functions. 




Paper Prototype


Physical Moodboard


Similar Works

Shane Richmond, S. (2011, May 08). Researchers demonstrate flexible epaper phone. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from

The flexibility of epaper inspired me the mix of digital screen and textiles.

‘BEST SELLER – the witcher sign Merchandise’ Hoodie (Pullover) by andovergaz. (n.d.). Retrieved January 18, 2021, from notset&country_code=CA&gclid=CjwKCAiAgJWABhArEiwAmNVTB3IPgI7WPg-ndCJLhy6_RJ-DrfwMu5IiwNK-cAfrN299x8DOenaX3BoCnp4QAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

I am a big fan of video games, I would choose clothes with video game characters or logos e when I’m shopping. I bought this one along with a few other even if I do not need them, and I know my interest in this games would fade out in a short period of time. So I started wonder what if there is a kind of clothes that can change its image whenever I want.