Head In The Clouds

Project Description

Head In The Clouds is a head wrap that visualizes the changes in the sky from the sun to the moon. It is both a fashion and art piece meant to represent the mind in its most pensive and introspective hours of the day, early mornings and late at nights. Using a switch, located in the center of the headwrap the user can change the ambiance of the neopixels from a serene blue, to a hopeful sunrise orange.

The night state symbolizes intentional deep reflection into one’s hopes, and dreams, thoughts that often creep into one’s mind in the late hours of the night. Sometimes these thoughts can evoke a sense of peace and optimism but they can also create intense anxiety and uncertainty of the future. I wanted to reflect this emotional state by creating a soft pulsing blue-violet light that occasionally becomes disrupted by flashing white lights, reminiscent of lightning. This light pattern is meant to represent the calmness and tranquility of nightly reflection being threatened by a storm of self-doubt.

The morning state symbolizes the more autonomous aspects of the mind, these are implicit thoughts that we may not even realize are present but effectively make life more meaningful. For example, the hopefulness of creating a family, or the simple pleasure of having a cup of tea in the morning. To reflect this subconscious state of mind I wanted the light pattern to fade from a dark red-orange to a bright yellow-orange and red gradient. This light pattern is meant to represent the rising sun giving energy to the interconnected networks of life around us.

Part List 

  1. Circuit Playground Express
  2. Conductive Thread
  3. Non-stranded wire roll (red, yellow, black)
  4. Neopixels (2)
  5. Cotton Balls
  6. Hot Glue Gun
  7. Fabric Belt

Final Photos






Github Link to Code

Circuit Diagram 



Originally, I wanted to create a surgical face mask with a flower at the mouth that would visualize the real-time breathing rate of the user by blooming in and out with the pace of their breath. I put together a mood board that reflected the aspects of fashion, technology, and fabrication that I wanted to incorporate in my own piece.




Then I did some research to analyze the various way in which breath can be sensed using wearable sensors. I found three examples of breath sensing wearables that I found to be particularly impactful and I noticed that they were all geared towards promoting some aspect of health. For example, the Baby Blanket is geared towards measuring the breadth and stability of a baby while sleeping. I also found the Everyday Health Tracker which is very similar to the baby blanket but it’s for adults and is a clip-on that is more practical for the office. 

Next, I did some research to try and figure out how I would build a servo-controlled flower that could bloom in and out. I found this Blooming Origami Paper Flower Tutorial and built a rough prototype to try and understand what kind of mechanics would be necessary for the final build. Once I had the prototype I had planned on 3D printing a similar model for the final build.


Prototype: Blossom Flower Skeleton Video

Prototype Blossoming Flower Video

Furthermore,  I came across this Breath Sensor Mask – Adafruit Sensor tutorial which I found really helpful. However, when trying to purchase the gas sensor needed to build the project I came to realize that it was not available in any stores near me and to order it online would cost way more in shipping costs than the sensor itself. At this point, I had to pivot my project and brainstorm other ways that I could execute an expressive wearable technology. 

I started by solely working on the code and the neopixels provided in the Circuit Playground Express. My idea stemmed from a particular day when I was watching the sunset into what seemed like a  kaleidoscope of colors. I wanted to see if I could recreate the color and ambiance of the setting sun, so I created a variety of light patterns. The first task was to create a code that made the lights fade in and out very smoothly. Next, I programmed the switch on the CPX to change the states when switched on/off. Then, I focused my attention on creating color schemes that I thought were expressive of the changing patterns that I saw in the sky. Some of the light patterns I created were: The setting sun, the night sky, the starry night sky, and the bright blue day sky. From these four I found that the sunset and the starry night sky were the most impactful in the dark. However, I had some problems trying to get the string LEDs to work so, I had to discard them and settle for a more clear night sky light pattern instead.

Starry Night

Prototype Starry Night Light Pattern Video
Furthermore, I had to solder the additional neopixels to wires so that I could sew the conductive thread around the wires, through the belt fabric, and onto the CPX. Lastly, I hot glued cotton balls to diffuse all the neopixels. Originally I had planned to use a Tulle fabric but when I tried this the fabric did not diffuse as well as I would have liked it too. Incidentally, I had some cotton balls nearby on my desk so I tried them  I really liked the cloud-like diffusion effect they brought to the piece. One lesson I learned from this process is that hot glue and conductive thread don’t work well together. I had no trouble getting the neopixels to work before hot gluing the cotton balls onto the fabric. However, after I had smeared hot glue all over my connections I noticed that the consistency and reliability of the light patterns began to change. In future projects, I will definitely make more efforts to glue around conductive areas to prevent any conductive interference.

Final Video 

Night State Video

Day State Video






This entry was posted in Expressive Wearable Project. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


Use of this service is governed by the IT Acceptable Use and Web Technologies policies.
Privacy Notice: It is possible for your name, e-mail address, and/or student/staff/faculty UserID to be publicly revealed if you choose to use OCAD University Blogs.