Dreamer-a DIY sleep tracker

Body Centric technology

Setup
The setup for the assignment was to pull three words. 1 word for an accessory, 1 for a verb and 1 adverb. After the quick round of ideation during class, the idea that I settled on was BRACELET SLEEP THOROUGHLY. This seemed like a hard combination but one I could tackle using inspiration from current sleep trackers in the market.

After the round of ideation, I began sketching out my initial thoughts. I decided to build a band with an attached face similar to that of a watch. After going through the list of sensors that make sense for the project. I decided to build the band using the french knit and the tracker using the circular loom to weave a tilt sensor which would be able to track moments of sleep.

Figure 1: Initial sketch of idea
Figure 1: Initial sketch of idea

Strategy

Most sleep apps or devices like the Fitbit use the motion sensor in the devices. The idea of creating that using completely soft material was interesting. The strategy to start building out my sensor was first to start with the band and then continue on to the weave for the tilt sensor. The one thing I was a bit confused about was how these two would connect. The idea of the french twist as a wire helped me understand the circuitry.

After I had built the band my idea was to tackle the tilt sensor using the circular weaving technique.

 

Band construction

Materials

1 x Yarn

1 x conductive thread

1 small needle

1 french bobin or self made bobin.

Figure 2: Material needed for french knitting
Figure 2: Material needed for french knitting

For this part of the process I went through a couple rounds of interactions. I did quite a few rounds of construction to understand the french knit. I used the video tutorial provided in class as a reference. At first I just used yarn before the getting to adding the conductive material.

 

Step 1

First I would recommend doing a practice round to make sure the basics of the knit are understood.

Run the yarn underneath the french bobin and twist it around from outside in on one peg and continue on to the next peg.

Figure 3: French Knitting in progress
Figure 3: French Knitting in progress
Figure 4: sourcehttps://www.womansweekly.com/knitting/how-to-do-french-knitting-15375/
Figure 4: sourcehttps://www.womansweekly.com/knitting/how-to-do-french-knitting-15375/
Figure 5: Practice Knits
Figure 5: Practice Knits

Step 2

Proceeded till you have the hang of it. I did a couple rounds before I added the conductive thread. The way I knitted the conductive thread was to make the yarn and the conductive thread act as one. When knitting make sure the conductive thread and yarn are together. This can prove difficult when using the needle too loop one stitch over the other, be careful and make sure to get a hold of the conductive thread with your yarn before looping.

Figure 6: Conductive thread should be one with yarn
Figure 6: Conductive thread should be one with yarn

Then proceed to french knit till you get a long enough loop.

 

My final version looked like this:

Figure 7: My final version
Figure 7: My final version

I then used the testing tool we had built in class to test out the bed to see if the electricity flowed. This is done when the led lights up and completes the circuit.

Figure 8: Testing out sensor
Figure 8: Testing out sensor

Tilt sensor construction

Materials needed

1 x embroidery loom

1 x conductive thread

1x cotton string

1 x yarn

 

Loom building failure.

I did not have cotton string and tried to make a loom out of the yarn that I had. After failing to get the loom like structure I decided to forfeit to the loom and went back to the drawing board.

Figure 9: Loom building failure
Figure 9: Loom building failure

I decided to build a square tilt sensor. I looked for more techniques and came across this homemade cardboard weave technique. I used https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWLIy-Um7_0 this Youtube video as a guiding post.

Figure 10: back to the drawing board. Building a square sensor
Figure 10: back to the drawing board. Building a square sensor

Materials needed

1 x  cardboard piece

1 x small needle

1x yarn

1 x conductive thread

Figure 11: Materials needed to build square tilt sensor
Figure 11: Materials needed to build square tilt sensor

Step 1

Find cardboard pieces of about 3 by 6 inch piece. I used a slightly smaller one. It was harder so I would recommend using a slightly bigger piece for the ease of the needle to go through.

 

Draw out lines around the card space them out to about 0.2 inches apart. Use a scissor to cut vertically

Figure 12: starting out the warp for square loom
Figure 12: starting out the warp for square loom

Loop the yarn around until you have a warp structure which will be used for the weave.

Mark a side as front and back. Run the yarn across to the back and paste that side with tape.

Step 2

 

I threaded half way through until I got to the middle and then I attached the conductive thread to the yarn and knitted it through the middle.

Figure 14: weaving in conductive thread in the middle
Figure 13: weaving in conductive thread in the middle
Figure 14: weaving in conductive thread
Figure 14: weaving in conductive thread

Then I proceeded to test the non conductive. This would highlight the fact that the project is on the right track. For the tilt sensor to work, some of it needs to be conductive while the rest shouldn’t light up the LED on the testing tool.

Figure 15: testing out conductive area
Figure 15: testing out conductive area
Figure 16. testing out non-conductive area
Figure 16. testing out non-conductive area

I continued till I got a nice pattern with the conductive piece sandwiched between the non conductive yarn.

Figure 17: completed piece on the loom
Figure 17: completed piece on the loom

 

Figure 18: Completed piece off the loom
Figure 18: Completed piece off the loom
Figure 19:Completed piece with metal piece to create tilt sensor
Figure 19:Completed piece with metal piece to create tilt sensor

Tilt sensor considerations

when I seemed to test it out it lit . I wasn’t sure if the design actually worked. I did not have enough time to built a new one to test it. This is something I will do in my next few steps of this first prototype

Insights

  1. Conductive thread definitely is a great resource in building sensors.
  2. Using traditional techniques of knitting and weaving could be a powerful tool to build sensors.
  3. I had a hard time with the creating the circular loom, there are many resources out there that can help especially on sources like Youtube where many techniques can be found.
  4. Kobakant.com is great resource to understand how soft sensors work.

 

Next steps

The next steps that I think I would like to tackle are definitely take another crack at building the circular weave using the small embroidery loom. Another idea I had while I was building these two sensors was maybe making a pillowcase. We’ve seen a ton of sleep trackers that come in the shape of bands, because of the use of soft materials, I realized we could actually use it in things like sheets and pillowcases, into soft materials which we use in the everyday to sleep on. If I were to build a pillowcase I would definitely like to use the felting technique and even try out the bigger weaving pattern.

Sources used:

  1. Building a Cardboard loom: METkidshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWLIy-Um7_0 t