Fluorescence

Group members: Ania, Samaa, Sara

Fluorescence on Int Var Void webpage

Project Description

Fluorescence is an investigation into wearable technology: how it is made, how to wear it, and how the public responds to it. The goal of the project is to create a fashion accessory that is aesthetically pleasing, but that pushes the boundaries of ‘normal’ clothing. We created three warm, soft scarves with a technological twist — they light up in the dark.

It was important to the group to create a wearable that was beautiful — something that would inspire joy in the wearer and the people around them. The idea of a flower-shaped scarf grew from a discussion on how flowers respond to light in nature. A photoresistor seemed like the right fit, and we decided on a scarf because it mirrors the shape of an abstract flower —  the bulk of the fabric represents the stem, the LED lights represent the stigma and the hanging tassels are the flower petals.

We did not want to jam technology into something that doesn’t really need it. Instead, we carefully placed the LEDs in a subtle position that accentuates the natural beauty of flowers. There are practical benefits to have LEDs in a scarf: wearers become more visible to drivers when they are walking or cycling at night, and when the petals are ‘pulled back’ the scarf can double as a flashlight. But our focus was foremost on aesthetics. We wanted to create someone attention-grabbing, thought-provoking and at the same time covetable by a wide-range of people.

We made the scarves different colours to match each group member’s personal style. Each member chose the base colour of her scarf and the size and colour of her flowers.  At first, we were all a bit hesitant to jump on the subway and go to grocery store wearing LED lights, but after a few compliments later it became very enjoyable and we all agree that we would like to continue wearing the light-up scarves beyond the scope of this project. Based on the feedback we received, we conclude that the world is ready for joyful light-up scarves.

Production Materials

Per person:

  • 2 x scarves (cut at an angle – see diagram below – and “leaves” made of same fabric sewn on for texture)
  • 4 x fake flowers
  • 4 x large white diffuse LED
  • 1 x light dependent resistor
  • 1 x 10k resistor
  • 4m silicon wire
  • 1 x Arduino micro
  • 1 x proto board
  • 1 x USB battery pack

Bill of Materials: link

Design Files

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design

flow

Circuit

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Code: link.

User Testing Plan

Preparations

  • Create scarves
    • Embedding LEDs inside flowers
    • Sewing wires into scarf
    • Constructing circuit and attaching breadboard to scarf
  • Charge battery pack
  • We have decided to use portable USB chargers
  • We chose this in order to simplify the process of charging the batteries every day, and to limit the costs and the number of lithium batteries that we use

Repair kit

  • Stitch undoer, thread and needle, tape, a cord to charge the battery

During 

  • We will be observing other people’s reactions to us wearing the scarves, but we will not be collecting any quantitative data
  • We will keep a daily journal and note down what people’s reactions are
  • We will also include photos and videos in this journal/documentation
    • We will take selfies each hour to document the condition of the scarves
    • We will also ask other people (in short video clips) what they think of our scarves
    • Although there will not be complete consistency throughout, we will approach the photos and videos with the same intention and framework

Crunching the data

  • After all three of us have completed our user testing each day, we will meet for a debriefing conversation, and we will record this session
  • We will follow a conversational, unstructured format where we talk about what we enjoyed and did not enjoy about the experience
  • We can see which experiences we had in common, and discuss future iterations or changes we would make to the scarves
    • Try to find patterns in our experiences
    • Draw conclusions on how people view and digest electronic wearables.
      • Is it viewed with hesitation and hostility or will people enjoy seeing it?
      • See what sorts of improvements we could make in future iterations

Process Journal

Once we had decided on the scope of our project, we identified the materials that we needed. We bought scarves and fake flowers from Chinatown, a selection of LEDs from Creatron, as well as 7 metres of silicon wire. We already had protoboards, LDRs, resistors, and Arduinos in our kits.

Using examples from the Arduino website, we constructed a circuit on a breadboard using our components, initially using two resistors – one for the LED and one for the LDR. We realized that the brightness of the LED was affected by the 10k resistor, so we decided to remove it.

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The selection of LEDs we bought were different colours and created different “effects”, including ‘bright’, ‘super bright’ and ‘diffuse.’ We also planned to use different colours – red, yellow, and white – and tested the different LEDs to see which ones looked best. Ultimately we chose the ‘diffuse’ effect, and we realized that the different coloured LEDs all had different voltage, so we decided to simplify the circuit by using only white diffuse LEDs.

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To create the “light bulb” in the flower we soldered 50cm of silicon wire to each of the white LEDs, and then put a blob of hot glue between the legs of the LED so that the positive and negative currents would remain separate. We soldered 50cm of silicon wire to the LDR as well. We then replicated the circuit from the breadboard onto each of our protoboards which we had cut in half to fit inside the pocket in our scarves.

We split the flowers into “left” and “right” sides, two flowers for each side. We soldered the negative wires together, and then the positive wires together, for both flowers on each of the sides. We then soldered these wires to the protoboard to complete the circuit. We secured the connections with electrical tape.

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After we had finalized our circuits, we started “building” on the scarf. We had two scarves each which we cut in a parallelogram shape, as per our design, and used the second scarf to cut out “leaf” shaped pieces which were sewn to the first scarf to create texture.

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We then sewed the wires of the flowers into the scarf to hide them. We sewed the LDR wire into the scarf as well, but placed the LDR in a visible location near the bottom, where the scarf would hang around our neck. We chose this placement so that the LDR would not get obstructed by our hair or bags, and would be able to sense the brightness of the space we were in.

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Finally, we attached the USB battery pack to the Arduino to test that everything was working.

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When it was confirmed that the circuit was responding to external brightness, we were satisfied with the technological development of the scarves, and moved on to our user testing phase. Our results are below.

User Testing Results

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Media Gathered

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References

LED fashion is becoming a popular topic in the fashion world.  We were inspired by “Cute Circuit” and also Ronnie Brust’s designs.

http://illuminatedcouture.com/about/

“With great pleasure comes great responsibility” – Brust.

Fashion pieces such as our scarf and Ronnie Brust’s designs need maintenance because they use an external power source. It was interesting to go through his website to see that he sells power banks with his pieces. He also has a Product Care Instructions page