Keep Walking!

Slow Technology Activities

During class workshop we worked on preparing thermochromic items; we dyed thermochromatic fabrics and resistive threads, painted fabric with acrylic mixed thermochromic pigments, and made our own screenprinting templates. Later, we sewed thermochromic threads to dyed and painted fabrics to test slow technology when actuated by heat.

We studied Pulse Width Modulation that is used to vary the output power between 0 and 255. Then, we experimented this feature with an LED light using Arduino “fading” sketch to make it fade in and out and then we tested making it fade faster and slower by modifying the increment value. We tested PMW again with for a slow vibration motor using vibration_PWM.ino sketch.

 Class workshop documentation:







Ambient Device Concept


I want to design an ambient notification device that aim to improve daily walking activities. This can be achieved by making a smart carpet with embedded resistive pressure sensors to detect our gaits. When someone walks across the carpet, the sensors actuate notifications.  The slow technology I’m proposing will use weaved Shape Memory Alloys, looks like a wire mesh textile, to create a wall sized ambient display that gives info about people walking activity via 3D volumetric morphology. This informative art piece is best to be hanged on the wall of the main living room of the house.

Because I don’t have shape memory alloy available, I tested gradual actuation using thermochromic fabric and threads for ambient  notification. The same logic and programming code applies for gradual actuations in shape memory alloys. Below are some resources for researches done by others, in addition to inspirational images that explain the trajectory of my design intentions.

SMA Smocking

Functional textiles driven by transforming NiTi wires

Inspirational images of wire mesh sculptural art by Eric Boyer and Bonnie Shanas



Thermo‐responsive shape memory alloys are able to adopt a temporary configuration and return to their programmed physical shape when heated to a determined activation temperature.

SMAs are treated to memorize their shape at considerably high temperatures (450 C – 550 C).  To get to an aesthetically sculptural form, the woven wires can be fixed to a cast and then placed in the furnace for 15 minutes in order to memorize its artistic volumetric form.

This informative art is displayed whenever family members are walking around in  the house. When people are inactive, the sculptures will look flat and dull. When the art piece looks dull, then it’s a reminder to get up and have a small walk to bring back its beauty. Technically, when there’s no electric current, the corners of the art piece will be pulled away slowly through a pulley mechanism to flatten the sculpture. And when the sensors are activated by people walking on the smart carpet, this will actuate the SMAs to gradually shrink back to their memorized sculptural form. The shrinking force must be greater than the pulling force.  With this slow ambient notification device household members are encouraged to keep walking in order to maintain the aesthetics of the 3D wall art.

Circuit schematics:


Arduino Code:



Next steps:

This project explores ways to make wall art and sculptures alive, interactive and functional. I aim to make a higher fidelity prototype to be tested at all different stages. first stage is weaving the SMA nitinol wires, then try training them to give them a 3D cultural form. I also want to explore options and mechanisms for flattening the sculptures when they’re not actuated. Wiring and connections should be well studied and hidden in order to enhance the aesthetic visuals.