Touch Music – Work from Home Edition

Project Description

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic the new norm became working from home which led to monotony during the lockdown period. Despite the slight semblance of normalcy of being able to go to work or school in-person we have slowly adopted the work from home notion as it has been popularised over the past two years. Touch Music – Work from Home Edition is the extension of a previous project I did in the Creation and Computation studio class back in 2020. The project explored capacitive sensing using and Arduino Nano 33 IoT connected to a capacitive sensor which was attached to conductive material wrapped around a wine bottle. Once connected it was activated by touch and would display a visualizer that reacted to the beat of a song.


In this version of Touch Music – Work from Home Edition, I further explore the concept by designing a wearable sweater that is worn while someone is working from home. The wearable sweater has two capacitive sensors one on the left cuff of the sweater and the other on the back of the sweater and the idea is to have the sensor play different types of music when someone is studying or working and when they are taking a break. The capacitive sensor on the cuff is activated when someone is placing their hand on their computer while they are typing and plays focus music. Whereas the capacitive sensor on the back is activated when the user is taking a break and leans back completely on their chair and the music genre changes to the users’ preferences. The wearable is intended for use by people who work or study from home and enjoy playing music while they work.

Project Context

The Bose SoundWear Companion Wearable Speaker (Bose n.d.) is one of the inspirations of the Touch Music project. The wearable speaker is designed to be worn on the neck and offers the best of both worlds’ portability and great sound output. The speaker is well designed and sits comfortably on the neck and is great for people who work from home. The wearable has two speakers that are upward-facing and point toward the ears with good sound quality which is an alternative solution for hands free use such as answering calls while driving. While the wearable is not exactly designed for use in public spaces as it is a speaker and can get loud it has other potential uses which include use at home or in the backyard, taking a walk, speaker calls, virtual reality, and driving. Touch Music is designed for use at home specifically for people who work or study from home and spend most of the day using their computers. Like the Bose speaker the wearable sweater’s microcontroller is designed to sit on the shoulders of the user as it is unobtrusive and not distracting to the wearer.

Liquid MIDI is an experimental modular textile interface for sonic interactions, exploring aesthetics and morphology on contemporary interaction design (‘Liquid MIDI’ n.d.). It uses experimental textiles and conductive ink for the sonic interaction and is a tangible interface. The piece consists of textiles, screen printed with conductive paint. The paint creates a network of intersecting lines with pronounced circles at specific junctions. The lines are connected to an Arduino through alligator cables which helps it to communicate with a desired software, using midi protocol. Trigger pads and fader board are screen printed modules focused on AV performances, allowing the performer to build its set up regarding its needs. Sound is a medium that has been increasingly gaining ground in the visual arts during recent decades, despite this seeming contradictory (‘Liquid MIDI’ n.d.). Liquid MIDI relates to Touch Music which uses the concept of fusing conductive material on a fabric in this case a sweater to trigger a sound output when touched. The unique interaction of Liquid MIDI is foldable and morphable which allows for interesting uses and interactions where the interface becomes a part of the process of creation itself.


Photo Credit: Liquid MIDI

Woojer Vest is one of the most powerful haptic experiences it delivers high fidelity tactile sensation which reproduce the rich emotion of sound(‘Vest’ n.d.). The Vest Edge gives 360 degrees of immersion, delivering powerful and accurate, detailed sensations. The Woojer Vest works by pumping low frequencies of sound into the body. It is best experienced when playing games, watching movies, or listening to music. Thus, it would give you a one-of-a-kind audio experience that cannot be experienced with just headphones. It makes the experience of watching movies and playing games, especially with VR, much better (Sutton 2021). The vest is designed to be worn and plugged into a gaming console, headphones, or any other device that you want to use with the vest. It’s the perfect companion for at-home gaming, movies, VR and music. It’ll pump the low frequencies through your body, delivering a unique and mesmerizing audio experience. The idea of Touch Music is to introduce a different experience of working from home by adding an interesting interaction to clothing that allows the wearer to control music using the sense of touch. As it can be monotonous to see the same four walls of someone’s workspace the idea of Touch Music offers a way to liven up the work from home experience with the potential of exploration into other interesting interactions.

Parts List


  1. (1) Arduino Nano 33 IoT – ARDNN-032333 (Arduino)
  2. (1) MPR121 12 Key Capacitive Touch Sensor – PROTS-001982 (Adafruit)
  3. (2) 6″ (M-F) Jumper Wire – CONJU-062319
  4. (2) Ribbon Cable 22AWG 40 way – 1 Meter
  5. (2) Mini Breadboard Red – PCBBA-120442
  6. (1) USB (A) to Micro (B) Cable – 5ft – ZCABL-010215
  7. (4) 22AWG Hookup Wire – WIREJ-000140


  1. Copper Tape – COPER-010567
  2. Sweater
  3. Velcro
  4. Thread
  5. Aluminium Foil

Circuit Diagram on Fritzing


Link To Code

Code on GitHub

Wearability Assessment

The wearable sweater was comfortable to wear for its intended purpose while seated it was comfortable and unobtrusive. While moving around or walking the microcontroller felt slightly heavy but was not very noticeable, the wires sewn through the sweater were not felt and stayed in place even while moving around. Based on Gemperle’s argument “The weight  of  a  wearable  should  not  hinder  the  body’s movement or balance (1998).” The construction of the wearable sweater is not bulky or heavy however it would be beneficial to use more compact electronic components in the next iteration.

Final Photos


Construction Photos

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Link to Demo Video –

Link to Process Video –

Challenges and Successes

The wearable sweater was a fun project to work on some of the successful aspects was the code worked well and the construction of the wearable was easy to assemble. It was comfortable to wear and unobtrusive as I sometimes forgot I was wearing the device. The progress made from the first Touch Music project which focused more on physical computing let to further exploration of wearable technology in this iteration.

Some of the challenges faced during this project was time constraint trying to balance thesis work. As the wearable sweater incorporated capacitive touch it sometimes lagged to respond or would cut of the music midway and reconnect after some time. The capacitive sensors are hidden from the line of sight of the wearer which could potentially be jarring if the user forgets, and music automatically starts playing when the sensor is activated.

Next Steps

The next step of the project would be to design a more compact wearable that can be worn and removed by the wearer as they please. Presently the design of the wearable is designed to be fixed on the sweater which is not feasible if it is intended to be worn over an extended period as not everyone enjoys listening to music as they work. The possibility of exploring different form factors and ideas of incorporating the device into a wearable has the potential to be further developed and looking at different concept ideas beyond playing music while working from home.



Bose. n.d. ‘SoundWear Companion Wearable Speaker – Bose Product Support’. Accessed 2 May 2022.

Gemperle, F., C. Kasabach, J. Stivoric, Malcolm Bauer, and R. Martin. 1998. ‘Design for Wearability’. In , 116–22.

‘Liquid MIDI’. n.d. E J T E C H. Accessed 2 May 2022.

Sutton, Robert. 2021. ‘Woojer Vest – Everything You Need To Know’. Teckers® Tech (blog). 31 August 2021.

‘Vest’. n.d. Woojer. Accessed 2 May 2022.

Getting Stronger – By Trish


Project Description

Getting stronger is a project inspired by my healing journey post ankle surgery, one of the most important processes on the road to recovery is physiotherapy. Physiotherapy recommendations is usually 2-3 times a week depending on the type of surgery. Through out my journey I have been interested in tracking my own progress hence this project explores wearable technology as a way to keep track of different physiotherapy exercises.

Getting stronger takes a look at two specific exercises I have been doing for the past year now one is ankle AROM – Inversion and Eversion. Inversion entails moving the ankle so that the foot faces towards the body while eversion involves moving the ankle so that the foot faces away from the body. This exercise is done to improve range of motion of the ankle from left to right position. The second exercise is toe towel curls which is performed using a towel or other material to scrunch. This exercise works well standing up or sitting down. This exercise is a good foot strengthening workout.

Getting stronger uses the accelerometer on the circuit playground express to keep track of the ankle AROM – Inversion and Eversion stretch to monitor the progress of range of motion on the ankle. For the toe towel curls a pressure sensor is attached to the circuit playground express to keep track of the foot strength progression.

Final Photos

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Parts List


  1. (1) Circuit Playground Express
  2. (1) Lipo Battery
  3. (3) Alligator Clips
  4. (1) 220ohm resistor


  1. Elastic strap
  2. Velcro
  3. 3D printed case for the CPX
  4. Felt
  5. Velostat
  6. Conductive Fabric

Circuit Diagram On Fritzing


Link to code

Code on GitHub

Project Context

Getting stronger is inspired by another project I did for the Body Centric Technologies Studio Class in winter 2021 called Vibrating Knee Brace. The project documented my physiotherapy journey for my runner’s knee at the time which would cause pain and discomfort when I would run. For the project I designed a wearable knee brace that had four vibrating motors two at the top and two at the bottom connected to a CPX. The brace had four modes that were activated using the one of the on-board buttons on the CPX. When the button is pressed it would shift through the modes as follows:

  1. The CPX Neo Pixels lights up red to indicate the motors are off
  2. The CPX Neo Pixels lights up yellow to indicate the top motors are on
  3. The CPX Neo Pixels lights up orange to indicate the bottom motors are on
  4. The CPX Neo Pixels lights up green to indicate all the motors are on

The wearable was designed to be worn while someone is either running, jogging, or walking to relieve pain felt on the knee while doing these activities. The project borrowed its idea from the TENS machine which is used for physiotherapy. Getting stronger relates to this project as it also borrows ideas from existing physiotherapy exercises to keep track of progress throughout the healing process.

Sensoria® Smart Socks are a smart textile wearable designed to improve running form by keeping track of speed, pace, cadence, and foot landing. It helps a user learn how to run to avoid injury prone running styles. Sensoria smart socks are infused with comfortable, textile pressure sensors (Sensoria Fitness). They offer real-time feedback when someone striking with the heel or the ball of your foot. They help monitor foot-landing technique and the data is visualized on the Sensoria Fitness mobile app (Sensoria Fitness). The idea of getting stronger links to Sensoria as it incorporates pressure sensing with an output of the Neo Pixels on the CPX to indicate the pressure exerted during the toe towel curls exercise.

Orpyx SI® Sensory Insoles is a wearable designed to help prevent foot complications (‘Orpyx Medical Technologies Inc.’). The wearable devices offer pressure monitoring for preventing foot complications and provides physiological data that can guide patient care. It also helps to gain an understanding of a user’s activity for remote patient monitoring services and the Orpyx SI® Flex Sensory Insole System is designed to help reduce the risk of plantar foot complications. As my project looks at monitoring patient progress throughout the physiotherapy process the Orpyx Insole offers inspiration as it also uses pressure sensing for patient monitoring.


‘Circuit Playground’s Motion Sensor’. Adafruit Learning System, Accessed 29 Apr. 2022.

‘Orpyx Medical Technologies Inc.’ Orpyx Medical Technologies, Accessed 2 May 2022.

Sensoria Fitness. Accessed 29 Apr. 2022.

Social Body Lab. How to Make an E-Textile Analog Sensor. 2020. YouTube,




Heart rate is the measure of Beats Per Minute (BPM) which is the number of heartbeats detected in one minute. Normal resting heart rate range from 60 to 100 beats per minute (Laskowski). Resting heart rate is described as the heart pumping the lowest amount of blood needed when one is not exerting a lot of energy. Heart rate data can be collected from various parts of the body some of which include the wrist, fingertip, chest, thigh etc. Heart rate is measured using a monitoring device that allows one to get heart rate data in real time.

The two common medical applications that measure heart rate are optical based heart rate sensors known as photoplethysmography (PPG) sensors and electrical heart rate sensors known as electrocardiography (ECG) sensors. Optical heart rate sensor “uses a light-based technology to sense the rate of blood flow as controlled by the heart’s pumping action”(NeuroSky). While an electrical heart rate sensor “measures the bio-potential generated by electrical signals that control the expansion and contraction of heart chambers”(NeuroSky).


PPG Sensors

PPG is an optical heart rate sensor that is often used for heart rate monitoring purposes (Castaneda et al.). It is often non-invasive and uses a light source and a photodetector at the surface of skin to measure the rate of blood flow as controlled by the heart’s pumping action (Valencell). Optical blood flow sensors were first innovated in the late 1800s this was done by having someone place their hand over a candle in a dark to view blood flow and vascular structure(Valencell). Since then, the evolution of PPG sensors have gotten smaller and more accurate with modern technology.

There are two types of PPG sensors one is the pulse sensor that uses a green LED which emits light and hits surface of the skin, and a photodetector to measure incident light. The pulse sensor is designed to measure pulse waves when the heart pumps blood. The application of pulse sensors is widely used in wearable devices for health and fitness tracking. The second type of PPG sensor is the pulse oximeter that uses a red LED, and an infrared LED, both measured by a single, shared photodetector used to measure blood oxygen levels. In hospitals pulse oximeters are commonly used to measure pulse rate and blood oxygen.

ECG Sensors

ECG is an electrical heart rate sensor that measures and records the electrical activity that passes through the heart. “With each heartbeat, an electrical wave travels through the heart. This wave causes the muscle to squeeze and pump blood from the heart (Heart and Stroke Foundation).” The first practical ECG machine was invented in 1903 by Willem Einthoven who was a Dutch Doctor (Barold). EGC machines work using lead wires connected to electrode sensor pads placed on specific parts of the chest, arms, and legs. The electrical activity of the heart is then measured, interpreted, and printed out either on paper or digitally on a screen(Electrocardiogram).

There are 3 main types of ECG monitoring which include:

  • Resting ECG – conducted while someone is lying down in a comfortable position.
  • Stress or exercise ECG – conducted while someone is using an exercise bike or treadmill.
  • Ambulatory ECG (sometimes called a Holter monitor) – the electrodes are connected to a small portable machine worn at someone’s waist so their heart can be monitored at home for 1 or more days.

The type of ECG monitor depends on symptoms or heart problem suspected (‘Electrocardiogram (ECG)’).

Comparison of PPG vs ECG

The comparison between PPG and ECG sensors include:

Uses electrical signal derived from light reflected due to changes in blood flow during heart activity Uses electrical signal produced by heart activity
Can measure heart rate but only suitable for average measurements Measures heart rate accurately
Uses electrical signal derived from light reflected due to changes in blood flow during heart activity Uses electrical signal produced by heart activity
Requires a longer settling time due to the need to measure ambient light Meaningful readings can be obtained within a brief time


Wearable Devices with Heart Rate Sensors

Consumer wearables such as smartwatches and fitness trackers commonly have PPG sensors as they are cheaper than ECG sensors.         In this research I compare two wearable devices that use PPG, ECG and a variation of both sensors.

Xiaomi Mi Band 6

The Mi Band 6 is the latest series of the Xiaomi smart band, it has two main sensors one is a high precision 6-axis sensor (3-axis accelerometer and 3-axis gyroscope) and the other a PPG heart rate sensor. It is used for both health and fitness tracking and the features include:

  • Heart rate monitoring: Whole-day heart rate manual heart rate, resting heart rate and heart rate curve.
  • Sleep monitoring: Deep sleep, light sleep, rapid eye movement (REM), naps.
  • Women’s health tracking: Provides recording and reminders for the menstrual cycle and ovulation phases.
  • Stress monitoring, breathing exercises, PAI vitality index assessment, idle alerts, step counter, goal setting (Mi Smart Band).

Apple Watch Series 7

The Apple Watch Series 7 has both PPG and ECG sensors which measures blood oxygen level and allows a user to take an ECG anytime, anywhere respectively. Some of the features include heart rate sensing, mindfulness, and sleep tracking for health monitoring. The blood oxygen sensor and app allow someone to take on-demand readings of their blood oxygen as well as background readings, day and night (‘Apple Watch Series 7’).

The ECG sensor works using the ECG app, Apple Watch Series 7 can generate an ECG similar to a single-lead electrocardiogram. Electrodes built into the Digital Crown and the back crystal work together with the ECG app to read someone’s heart electrical signals. It works by placing a fingertip on the Digital Crown to generate an ECG waveform in just 30 seconds. “The ECG app can indicate whether a heart rhythm shows signs of atrial fibrillation — a serious form of irregular heart rhythm — or sinus rhythm, which means your heart is beating in a normal pattern(‘Apple Watch Series 7’).”



Overall, both PPG and ECG have their advantages and disadvantages and have become an integral part of designing health and fitness wearable devices. Each offer their own benefits to the type of device depending on factors such as placement on the body, type of heart rate data being collected, fitness tracking, health monitoring and so on.



‘Apple Watch Series 7’. Apple (CA), Accessed 27 Apr. 2022.

Barold, S. Serge. ‘Willem Einthoven and the Birth of Clinical Electrocardiography a Hundred Years Ago’. Cardiac Electrophysiology Review, vol. 7, no. 1, Jan. 2003, pp. 99–104. PubMed,

Castaneda, Denisse, et al. ‘A Review on Wearable Photoplethysmography Sensors and Their Potential Future Applications in Health Care’. International Journal of Biosensors & Bioelectronics, vol. 4, no. 4, 2018, pp. 195–202. PubMed Central,

Electrocardiogram. 8 Aug. 2021,

‘Electrocardiogram (ECG)’. Nhs.Uk, 18 Oct. 2017,

Heart and Stroke Foundation. Electrocardiogram | Heart and Stroke Foundation. Accessed 30 Mar. 2022.

Laskowski, Edward. ‘2 Easy, Accurate Ways to Measure Your Heart Rate’. Mayo Clinic, Accessed 31 Mar. 2022.

Mi Smart Band. Mi Smart Band 6 – No.1 Wearable Band Brand in the World – Xiaomi Global Official. Accessed 27 Apr. 2022.

NeuroSky. ECG vs PPG for Heart Rate Monitoring: Which Is Best? 28 Jan. 2015,

Valencell. ‘Optical Heart Rate Monitoring Technology: What You Need to Know’. Valencell, 15 Oct. 2015,





The Networking Bracelet – Trish

Project Description 

During professional networking events, it can sometimes be daunting for students to approach employers and recruiters. Hence my project is a simple networking bracelet that helps students identify who are employers and recruiters during in-person networking events. My wearable is designed to communicate information without any verbal cues. The Networking Bracelet has three different animation modes and colours to represent students, recruiters and employers. Students are represented by yellow because it is the colour of curiosity, youth and encouragement. This mode works by lighting up two NeoPixels on the circuit playground yellow in a crescent motion on each side. Employers are represented by blue because it is the colour of professionalism. This mode works by blinking all NeoPixels on the circuit playground blue to draw attention to students seeking employment. Lastly, recruiters are represented by green because it is the colour used to search on a location finder. This mode works by lighting up two NeoPixels on the circuit playground in a cyclone motion to show they are recruiting.

Final Photo

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Parts and Materials


  1. (1) Circuit Playground Express
  2. (1) Lipo Battery


  1. Black felt
  2. Velcro
  3. Wooden laser cut earring
  4. Wire hoop
  5. Double-sided tape
  6. Button
  7. Thread

Circuit Diagram on Fritzing


Link to Code

Code on GitHub

Project Context

Ice breakers are often great ways to get people talking and conversing especially if people do not know each other. One of the ideas that came to mind while working on this project is the idea of making it easier for people to approach each other at any kind of event, not just networking. The device is intended for versatility and can be modified to match any type of event and it is also an interesting way for people to express themselves. One of the projects that inspired my wearable device is the Gemio Band(Gemio n.d.). The Gemio Band uses advanced LED technology to create millions of colours and endless light effects that respond to music, movement and the people around. It connects with people with the band by pairing, and it sends light signals to communicate in a flash. You can be part of the show at concerts and events by pulsing to the beat, syncing with the DJ, or connecting to the crowd around you. It is the first wearable that lets someone change the design using snap-on tiles as easily as changing clothes. Someone can switch up their band’s tiles, colours and effects to match their look, mood or moment (‘The Customizable Smart Band That Lights Up Your Night’ 2018). 

Another project that inspires my work is the customizable bike light (Nelson 2017). In the project, the author defined colours in code and used them to make some fun animations with the NeoPixels on the Circuit Playground Express. My project used different animation modes to represent different types of people as previously mentioned. One important aspect of the design is colour because each colour represents something different. This project helped me in testing out different colours and animation patterns and each design had its own reason as to why it was created. The students’ animation was represented by crescent motion on both sides of the Circuit Playground Express that meet in the middle because it gives the impression of going around a room in its entirety. The employer’s animation is flashing to indicate signal attention to students, as sometimes students can find it difficult to approach professionals. Lastly, the recruiters’ animation which moves in circular motion much like the vintage location tracker systems to indicate that they are in search of potential candidates. The on and off function of the wearable is versatile as it can also be used to perverse the energy of the wearable but it can also be used to signal a ‘do not disturb’ function as the user is either attending to someone else or they are on break.

As my project used visual colours and patterns as a way of self-expression another piece of work that inspired my project ChroMorphous which is a type of innovation in the textile industry. The fabric is an active, user-controlled, colour-changing eTextile. With ChroMorphous colour-changing fabric, someone can control the colour and patterns of your clothing and accessories at any time, using only your smartphone (‘ChroMorphous – A New Fabric Experience’ n.d.). ChroMorphous is similar to traditional fabric; it can be cut, sewn, washed, and ironed. What makes ChroMorphous unique is that the colour-changing properties are controlled on demand. This work piqued my interest as it uses fibre optics to literally change the colour of any product that uses the material. Likewise, for my project, the idea is to use colour as a means of self-expression without the use of words.

Process Video

Lessons learned and next steps

As I worked on this project one of the challenges I faced was the use of the button to change between states. As it may seem easy to use a  button to turn something on and off it can be a bit more complicated to incorporate several different states within to change from one mode to another. Something I learned is that it helps to incorporate a way to preserve energy by adding an off function to the wearable so that when it is not in use it can be put to sleep to save energy. This project was a new iteration to what I am working on for my thesis project which is a wearable device to help improve someone’s mental wellbeing. The next steps with the project would be to have the same concept incorporated on a badge which is what people are provided with at networking events.   


‘ChroMorphous – A New Fabric Experience’. n.d. ChroMorphous. Accessed 7 February 2022.

Gemio. n.d. ‘Bring Out Your Creativity & Express Yourself’. Gemio. Accessed 10 November 2021.

Nelson, Carter. 2017. ‘Circuit Playground Bike Light’. Adafruit Learning System. 24 April 2017.

‘The Customizable Smart Band That Lights Up Your Night’. 2018. Kickstarter. 2018.