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

Workshop Notes #1_A watch for bungee jumpers_Erman

My goal was to design a watch which can help to relax a person who wants to bungee jump. This watch will be worn on a hand (especially on the left hand) and squeezed to be relaxed a little bit.

My keywords were: A watch- Bungee jumping – Nervously

About Bungee jumping:

It is an activity that involves jumping from a tall structure while connected to a large elastic cord. The tall structure is usually a fixed object, such as a building, bridge or crane. When the person jumps, the cord stretches and the jumper flies upwards again as the cord recoils and continues to oscillate up and down until all the kinetic energy is dissipated.

Although it looks like fun, it is also a very difficult activity to accomplish- especially for those who have fear of heights. Some of them who are getting ready to jump, cannot overcome their anxiety and turn back to their safety zones and step onto the ground again.

I wanted to help those who are getting ready to jump by designing a watch/hand band. It is very simple, but maybe an effective product to relax people and release their nerves.

Why hands:

I wanted to design a product for hands, especially for the left hand. I knew that there are acupressure points on hands (including fingers and palms) to relax someone. I found that left palm includes heart, lungs, stomach, and adrenal (see image 1).

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Image 1: Acupressure points in palms

A user of this product may put some pressure over there areas in the palm by squeezing the watch/hand band. If s/he presses and complete the circuit, a led lights up. S/he may play with it by lights it up and relaxes; or if s/he is very nervous s/he can squeeze it hard that it just lights up constantly. S/he also may not need to use it, if s/he feels fine about jumping of is concentrated on jumping.

Even if there were no acupressure points in palms, we feel better if we hold something in our hands, squeezing our hands, or shaking them. I am giving an interactive tool to these people to hold on, taking it with their journey with.

Design:

This watch/band is worn on hands and covers the palm, back of the hand. It is slotted over the thumb and wrapped around the hand.  If the two ends of the band touch each other circuit completes and the led lights up. It is activated in the palm. The user has to squeeze these ends in order to make them touch each other. You can watch the video here about its usage and how it works.

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Image 2: Design features and views

The slot and bands are wide and long enough to adjust the product to users’ various hand sizes. I decided the dimensions considering in hand size and comfort of usage.  You can see the dimensions below.

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Image 3: Dimensions and views

A battery is also located in the palm and it is covered with another knitted layer. Led is located the outer surface of the band, where it can be seen easily. You can see the led and how the watch is worn on a hand below.

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Image 4: How it is worn and used

I have complete your e-textile controller/ badge using 2 techniques. One is knitting other is French Knitting.  French knitting was used for the sensor, and the knitting was used for the circuit. It controls/ turns on an LED and battery to demonstrate that the circuit functions.

Conclusion: A watch/hand band may be used to relax someone who wants to bungee jump.

Documentation:

I started my project with sketches. You can see the initial sketches of my e-textile sensor/controllers.

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Two techniques I chose are French knitting and knitting.

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Starting the first loop. After a few trials, I decided to make 10 loops in a row. I also added conductive thread into the yarn.

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After reaching a square shape, I divided the loops into two groups. One group included six and other group included four loops. I tied the four loops with a wire not to lose them. I also stop using conductive thread at that step. Then, I knitted the six loops to individual size.

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I tied the six loops with a wire and started knitting four loops. I knitted them till reaching the same length with 6 loops.

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I started knitting two groups together and combined the rows together.

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I added conductive thread into the yard again and knitted the other end of the band with it.

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I knitted French knitting till I have enough length of it to make a button.

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I create a circle on the one of the end of the cord.

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I saw the circular French knitting on to the body with a regular thread.

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I sewed snaps for the LED.

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I also sewed snaps for the battery and placed the battery case on.

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I disconnected the snaps from each other and connected them with the rest of the circuit.

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I also connected two ends of the watch/band with the conductive thread.

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I knitted another square piece to cover the battery and create another layer between palm and the device.

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I sewed the new layer and covered the battery. It looks like a pocket for the battery.

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I also knitted and sewed a small piece onto the end of the band where fingers are located. I thought it can be a sign of the button and shows the real button underneath.

How it works:

Insights:

  • I learned how to make sensors and push button.
  • I learned and practice two kinds of knitting.
  • I practiced how to complete a circuit.
  • I learned another method for quick and effective brainstorming.
  • I placed the batter after knitting and the area where I located the battery was on the conductive thread. It took some time to clean the threads between the snap because it looped a lot between snaps. I recommend to decide where you locate the components before starting, otherwise, you can strive unnecessarily.

Information sources: I used this video to learn how to end knitting of the last row.

Next steps:

  • See other products of my classmates done;
  • Get feedback from instructors;
  • Learn if I need to learn and apply Arduino;
  • Learn different knitting techniques, and try with different patterns, colors;
  • Add more LEDs;
  • Make the watch/band wearable.

 

 

 

 

 

The Relaxed Runner

(A helpful post for left-handed knitters)

Image result for runner city

Running, as a form of exercise can help reduce anxiety and stress, but running in urban areas can often be a source of stress as well. Loud honking cars, pollution, careless pedestrians, and unexpected weather conditions can weigh a runner down. The Relaxed Runner is a set of wearable devices aimed at helping runners address some of the stressful situations they encounter on the go. A controller, worn on the runner’s fingers is connected to a scarf around the runner’s neck and triggers specific features. The scarf contains a speaker, to help cut noise when needed, LED lights to help runners signal pedestrians and traffic (especially when running in the dark), and the occasional mist spray for some hydration. For this workshop, the focus was on building a prototype for the controller.

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Components:

The Relaxed Runners controller is worn as a single device with two controlling functions within it.

Controller 1: Knitted finger socks
Controller 2: Woven band

Both controllers function as push buttons, that activate upon circuit completion, i.e. a combination of the power and ground lines. In the case of the finger socks, the mechanism is activated when the user joins both his fingers together. For the woven band, a user has to pinch two ends of the band together, with their other hand to activate the circuit. Both mechanisms work easily and are focused at users who are on the move with minimum interference.

A thin scarf work on the neck is aimed at giving the runner a sense of security and not obstructing their movement. The functionality on the scarf works with the LED Lights and the mist spray. These are the most critical triggers for the controllers. The speaker can be activated before the run depending on the wearer’s decision to wear headphones or not.

Ideation:

The idea for this controller was the outcome of an in-class exercise. We were asked to individually write on word cards, names of different types of clothing, verbs, and adverbs. After that, we had to combine these cards in groups of four and pick up random combinations in ballots. Then we had to sketch eight ideas each based on these combinations, and pick our favourite. Some of the combinations I got were softly-reading-necklace and exciting-gymanstics-headband. I chose a DESTRESSING – JOGGING – SCARF, and that formed the base of my idea.

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Intent:

Given that building a high fidelity prototype for a scarf is unachievable in a short period is unrealistic, I opted to build the controller instead. The fact that this concept is targeted towards runners, any wearable device has to be light, easy to wear and extremely comfortable. It cannot interfere with the runner’s movement. With this in mind, I moved into execution.

Building the Prototype:

Supplies:

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  1. DIY E-Textile tester  See how to make
  2. Basic sewing kit (Needle, Thread, Scissors)
  3. For Knitting the finger socks:
  • A roll of yarn, any colour will do
  • Conductive Thread
  • Knitting needles (Size 10 preferably or smaller)
  1. For Weaving the band:
  • Cardboard 6 inches X 10 inches approx. (reusing this is fine, it’s only a frame. I rescued a flap from an Amazon delivery box)
  • A roll of yarn
  • A plastic fork / any fork without sharp edges
  • Weaving needle (If you don’t have one use a thin stick instead)

Knitting Process:

Knitting for lefties can be very challenging, as everything is inverse. After a substantial amount of trial and error, I found that Bill Souza’s Youtube channel is a great place to learn.

The knitting process is divided into three parts for beginners:
Cast on: Learn here
Knit Stitch: Learn here
Bind off: Learn here

As a first timer, I began the knitting process with a few sample patches. This experiment helped me get comfortable with the technique, the size of needles and the nature of knitting I wanted to execute. Usually, beginners are recommended thick needles because it makes the process easier to learn, but due to the tight timeline and nature of my prototype (it had to look good and fit on a finger), I consciously opted for thin needles. This decision worked in my favour because it gave me the right size of knit stitch, and the correct tension I needed for it to fit perfectly on any finger size.

NOTE: Knitting requires a stitch count. I used a twelve-stitch count to fit the height of the more extended finger (middle finger) and an eight-stitch count for the thumb.

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I began the knitting process just with yarn and added the conductive thread halfway through. I wanted only a particular patch of the finger sock to be conductive, so the runner doesn’t accidentally trigger anything while moving. I just knotted the conductive thread onto the yarn and kept knitting. Once the thread is added, it might feel rougher and make the knitting process slightly harder, but continue as planned.

CAUTION; The conductive thread can tangle easily, and knots cannot be undone. Avoid cutting it off the roll you are working from and also avoid taking too much out at once.

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Once the conductive patch is complete, add another knot, cut off the edge and continue working with the yarn. Once completed, proceed with a bind off and trim off all extra thread.

Once the patch is ready, hold the two edges together to form a cylinder, and insert a sponge in the middle to help maintain the shape of the sock. Use a regular needle and thread (preferably in a similar colour) to sew the two edges of the patch together to form the sock. Trim off all extra thread. Complete both fingers.

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Weaving Process:

Once both the finger socks are ready, proceed to weave the band that joins the two together and also works as a controller. Start by making six same size incisions along the vertical edges of the cardboard patch. After that tie a knot at the beginning of your yarn and align it vertically along the incisions. The front should have them laid down vertically, and the back should have them laid out horizontally (pictures show how). Conclude this part with another knot at the end of the yarn and trim off any extras.

Learn how to DIY weave with Christina Reeves

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Next, cut a long piece of yarn and tie it to your needle. Begin moving perpendicularly to the vertical threads in an alternate pattern across threads and rows (pictures show how). Leave approx 1 inch on each end before you start the horizontal weave. Once a row ends move back in the opposite direction, and continue to do so till the end of the patch. Use the fork to tighten each row while weaving. Linearly make multiple knots along the ends and trim off any extras.

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Once the weave is complete proceed to sew on the conductive thread onto it. Sew two same size patches closer to the ends of the patch, that can make contact with ease. You can choose any pattern you like for this.

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Assembly:

Once the three components are ready, sow the edges of the patch to the bottom end of the finger socks ensuring that the conductive areas on the socks align on the inside of the hand, and the patch outside (See picture).

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Testing:

To test the finger socks, connect the edges of conductive areas to the edges of your e-textile tester with alligator clips. Joining both fingers should trigger the LED.

To test the band, connect the edges of the conductive patches to the edges of your e-textile tester with alligator clips. Joining both patches should trigger the LED.

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NOTE: Ensure that your battery is in the right poles prior to testing. This often causes the test to fail.

Reflection:

Before this workshop, I had never knitted or woven in my life. This was a fascinating new world to venture into, and I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to learn both techniques. While felting also seemed like a good skill to acquire, because weaving and knitting both were more complex an technically demanding I wanted to use this opportunity to learn both. While the weaving process is agnostic to the hand of its user, knitting was an extremely challenging start for me as a left-hander. With limited resources available online it took me a few days to grasp the technique accurately, and that was the most challenging aspect of this project for me. Designing the controllers was not so much of an issue as much as mastering the technique with high-quality output. I almost gave up after day two, but I knew that this was the only opportunity I would have to pick up the skill, so I pushed myself, and I am pleased with the outcome.
Next steps :

I would improve the quality of the sewing on the weave and perhaps make the band longer, so there’s more space to play. I would also like to try creating a more complex controller with all five fingers, using each finger to trigger a different kind of reaction.

I would create a wrist band for my Arduino and attach it to the finger controllers, to improve the functionality of the prototype.

 

Citations

Bill Souza – Yarn Crafts 4 Lefties

https://www.youtube.com/user/YarnCrafts4lefties

Christina Reeves – DIR Carboard Loom

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcnXF1R-7BayiKVHkeRgeFA

 

 

French Knitted Necklace and Button

Strategy:  I set out to create a soothing melody necklace that plays a lullaby when you push the pendant.

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Originally I had planned this for ttc commuters but commuters usually use earphones, reading or other ways to separate themselves from the chaos around them when it comes to transit.

Therefore, after the mix and mingle word exercise I thought why not make a necklace that soothes the soul and those around them. Why not make a soothing lullaby necklace? This wearable would be great for new moms and their newborns when trying to get them to sleep putting both parties at ease.

For first initial steps, I used the french knitting technique followed by the conductive button approach. The front part of the necklace’s medallion would act as a trigger, so when closed the necklace would lit up and play a lullaby through the speaker.

  • Documentation:

I started sketching out my design and trying to figure out the appropriate circuits:

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I made two french knitted chains to connect to the battery and LED :

French Knitting for the first time!
French Knitting for the first time!
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Two french knitted conductive chains. The white chain is connected to a button that connects to the other side of the LED.

Then I decided to just test my circuit on the left with an LED using a push button technique.

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I knitted my button with just conductive thread.
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It was bulgy and messy…
Then it didn't work :(
Then it didn’t work :(
Like..at all :(
Like..at all :(

The conductive button technique wasn’t working for me because my circuit based on the picture above, I was clearly connecting my negative (blue french knit chain), with the power side of my power bracelet. However even though that was the case, the design at this stage was messy and I didn’t like it.

So I retreated to using the button technique with just the button clips to complete the circuit.

The knit conductive button has been replaced with just a sew on button,
The knit conductive button has been replaced with just a sew on button.
It works!
It works!
  • Insights: Since the other techniques didn’t seem to suit my necklace idea, I didn’t focus on experimenting and trying out two techniques as required. I focused solely on the functionality of a on and off switch based necklace. The circuit itself, was very very simple. This isn’t bad for a first start but I did miss out on trying and experimenting other techniques such as the pinch or conductive button methods. (and my poor power battery is no more because of this experiment…)
  • Information sources: I didn’t use any external sources other than the tutorials given in class.

Next Steps

I’d like to try out other techniques and see where exciting outputs I can make or conduct with this.

Making a pinch sensor for the fingers that activates the light when it touches the medallion could be a next step I’d like to explore.

I would try and make this much neater  incorporate actual sound in the next phase.

Back Pack Fabric Light and Futuristic Pants

Introduction:

These 2 creations are utilized using 2 different techniques. The 2 techniques explored are felting and crochet. My Intention with this project was to create something possible  and  futuristic. For the back pack light, I’m constantly looking for things in my bag and wanted to create a perfectly fitted insert. The button used to activate the light is crocheted with conductive thread. It is placed at the top of the bag where you naturally apply pressure when holding the opening of your bag. The second construct evolved from the ideation of what the most comfortable pants would look like. I discerned they would be electronic and could be used as a single piece of clothing that came all the way up to your collarbone.

img_3242Ideation:

In my first draft of brainstorming, I didn’t really veer from my original ideation. My process was mostly iterating on my original design and continuing with the exploration of the 2 techniques felting and crocheting with conductive thread.

 

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Insights:
While crocheting the switch (button) that activates the LED light, I had to reconfigure the map of conductive thread. The distance from the  battery to the LED was to extreme.  Initially I could  get the LED’s to turn on, but they were very dim and would not stay lit. I also doubled the batteries for each circuit. Each product had 2 -3 volt batteries attached for power.  This was the case for both projects. Incorporating an area of felting was a much more stable means of conduction for the 2nd project. I created a thick neat line of felting to close the circuit to initiate the LED on the pants.

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felting

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Conclusion:

If able to revisit this project at a later date I would like to expand on the fabric light and incorporate a lily pad. Making the product a little larger and brighter. Expanding on the brightness would increase visibility closer to the bottom of the backpack.. Connecting it to an outer design on the bag could be used for communication or sensing something harmful. Another variation could also be making the light as a matrix for images, messages. Through out this project I expanded on my use of e-textile buttons. This build allowed me to amplify my knowledge of trouble shooting with conductive thread. For example I discovered if I made circuits shorter or rethreaded some areas of the crocheted button I was able to redress the issue of closing the circuit more effectively. There are a vast amount of applications these fabric power switches could be applied to. They are definitely more effective when wieght and flexibility are the priority.

References

https://www.kitronik.co.uk/blog/how-to-make-a-basic-e-textile-led-circuit/

http://etextile-summercamp.org/swatch-exchange/

https://www.instructables.com/id/Conductive-Fabric-Make-Flexible-Circuits-Using-An/

Deceptive Jumping Necklace

After a creative elicitation exercise involving mix-and-matching verbs, adverbs, and feelings, I sketched out a series of goofy designs.

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Many of them were so goofy or so obtuse that when it came time to select one to pursue for this project, they had to be discarded by default. The one idea that I thought would be achievable based on the parameters of the assignment, and not so complex as to necessarily require a microcontroller, was the so-called Deceptive Jumping Necklace.

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The Necklace would sit clasped on its wearer’s neck until, when it was most unexpected, it would unclasp and leap off. When expanding the design I imagined it held fast by a set of electromagnets controlled by a microcontroller hidden in the central pendant. This central pendant would also hold springs that would push the necklace away when it was activated. It was goofy, but it could be read as a piece of critical or dark design, which are design avenues I am interested in.

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I had no practical experience with knitting. I had done some simple weaving before, but I wanted to learn to knit. Even at the time I felt that weaving would be more appropriate than knitting for this object, but I wanted to take the opportunity to push myself and learn something new. I planned to knit the body of the necklace and weave a small patch to serve as the mounting for the magnetic clasp.

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It took me several false starts to get the hang of knitting. The first round of stitches that set up the first needle was simple enough, but the process and movements for the core stitching did not come easily. Furthermore, in my hubris, I had asked my instructor for small needles as I wished to knit something that would have the same stitch density as a weave. She warned me that large stitches would lead to larger loops which would be easier to knit, and she was right. The small loops were difficult to keep ordered and occasionally got very tight.

I had to stop and restart several times, but eventually, thanks to a very helpful YouTube video, I got it going.

While knitting, I decided that a necklace was the wrong form for the project. A bracelet would maintain the same kind of affordance as the necklace with respect to the critical design aspects, and would be a little simpler and faster to make. Also, I had by now decided to try to realize the project without a microcontroller, and a bracelet would be a better fit for an object that was just a swatch of knitted cloth.

As I knit, I attempted to include two lengths of conductive thread – one of the fourth stitch from the beginning, and one on the fourth stitch from the end. These will eventually become the wiring that keeps the clasp engaged.

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The bracelet turned out well enough considering it was my first serious foray into knitting. For some reason – probably through missing or fouling up stitches – the finished knit has a distinct curvature to it, which works for a bracelet!

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For the next step, I wove a swatch to serve as a place to anchor the clasp mechanism. I had done some weaving in workshops previously so this was familiar to me, and a YouTube video was a good refresher.

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I tied off the cut portions of the weft and trimmed them down.

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There is much more work to do. Having never knitted before, I spent a majority of the week getting comfortable with the process through trial and error. I understand now how to recognize a mistake and fix it right away, which I did not when I began. Mistakes I made early in the knit were deeply woven before I recognized what they were.

Furthermore, I settled on the initial design of the project before I truly understood the needs of it. Before this piece is completed I intend to re-imagine it so it can function without a microcontroller, and to utilize one of the fabric-based sensors. Perhaps I will eschew magnets altogether?

While I’m disappointed to not have a completed product I am excited to have discovered knitting, which I find fun and relaxing. Now that the hurdle of learning to knit has been overcome I’m looking forward to continuing exploring, and perhaps knitting myself a big fluffy scarf.

References & Resources

RJ Knits (2018, November 24). How to Knit: Easy for Beginners. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_R1UDsNOMk&feature=youtu.be

The Met (2016, March 11). #MetKids-Weave on a Mini Loom. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWLIy-Um7_0

Pressure Activated E-Tie

 

Strategy:

Through the ideation activity, I end up choosing the concept created with the words (tie, hugging, suddenly). I proposed to design an e-tie that is a hug sensor that measures pressure and intensity of hugging with others.

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Deep pressure hugs with partners, family and friends calm people and reduce stress and anxiety. A deep pressure hug would turn a light on or produce a melody on this e-tie. With this type of a tie we can use that information to understand how people approach each other in public or private

I created a push button sensor using knitting technique for creating this pressure activated accessory. I Also used French knitting technique to create a conductive cord for the circuit. Learning knitting skills wasn’t an easy task, it required a lot of patience and accuracy. I followed video tutorials to learn beginner steps. I challenged myself and I tried many samples and repeated and practiced it until I got the hang of it. I struggled with French knitting a lot more. I had to practice without the conductive thread because it was causing a lot of tangling and very tight stitches. Afterwards, knitting with the conductive thread became possible.

Documentation:

E-Tie design sketches

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Knitting process

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Completed knitted parts

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Testing the circuit

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Final Prototype

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Insights:

This experiment taught me not only knitting skills, but also how to knit a yarn with a conductive thread and treat them as one thread. I explored different knitting techniques to produce different kinds of stitches, some of them were successful and some weren’t, but this resulted in creating an ironic textured patterned tie design. I learned also how to connect a circuit through many trials and errors and that made me understand short circuits, cut or non-conductive ones, closed circuits, and positive and negative sides of a battery in relation to the LED light in order to light it up. It’s my first time to work with electronics and all this information and findings are new to me. I will definitely do more projects with electronics and sensors, and apply this knowledge to create interactive interior environments for my thesis projects.

Information sources: None

Next Steps:

I would like to take this designed wearable accessory further and make it interactive through computation. I propose that the wearer can be able to control the intensity of physical contact with others. They can set the ideal pressure for a hug, and then if the hugger exceeds that limit, a special sound would be produced informing the hugger that a too tight squeezing hug is becoming unpleasant, so they will loosen up or break free. The sensor allows the wearer to feel comfortable knowing that a limit has been set and they’re in control of it.

E-Textiles: Embedding a circuit into woven yarn and felt

Experiment by: April De Zen

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For the purpose of this experiment, I created two conductive controllers using yarn, felt and some conductive textiles. The prototype created is a battery operated bracelet with a felt button which turns the lights on. This is my first try with e-textiles so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I noticed through the process that without resistors controlling the flow of electricity it was very easy to burn out a battery which made the process more tricky then expected. Here was my journey creating and testing an e-textile.

Step 1: Materials & Tools

  • 1 roll of yarn
  • A piece of scrap cardboard
  • 1 roll of conductive thread
  • 1 roll of regular thread
  • Conductive felt
  • Regular felt
  • 1 piece of sheet felt
  • 1 3V round battery
  • 5 adafruit sequins LEDs
  • Sewing needles
  • 1 clean yellow sponge
  • 2 finger protectors
  • 1 felting needle

Step 2: Create Cardboard Loom

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With the help of a tutorial from the weaving loom, I created a cardboard loom very quickly. I’ve never woven yarn before so I’m not sure how this holds up to a regular loom but I was really impressed how easy it was to make and how effective it was. It didn’t take mush time at all for create the loom and begin weaving. The pattern of a weave is very simple as well, under and over. The only issue I ran into was keeping the shape of the band. After a while I noticed that it was tapering in as I was weaving so I tried to loosen the yarn.

Step 3: Add conductive thread into weave

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There needed to be two points of conductivity to flow electricity through the woven bracelet. Once I have about 3 centimetres woven I added the thread. I left some space without conductive thread because I will be adding a felt ball/button later and I don’t want it sitting directly on top the circuit. I pulled the conductive thread all the way to the other end of the loom and tucked it in at both ends to keep it still. Once that was complete, I continued the weave until I reached the desired length.

Step 4: Create felted ball with conductive felt for button

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Creating the felted ball was an easy process but it is also very easy to poke yourself with the extremely sharp needle. Even with the finger protectors, I poked myself a few times. Go slow! Trust me on this. Since I was creating a button, I needed the conductive felt to be inside the ball so it would not trigger the bracelet until pressed. I started with laying the felt flat on the sponge (with the conductive piece on top) and started tapping the needle through. As I went I folded over the felt to create a ball and continued tapping the needle through. I made sure all the conductive felt stayed inside the ball while I was doing this.

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Step 5: Add LEDs

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This was my first time using these kinds of LEDs so I quickly tested them all to make sure they worked before I sowed them in. There was already two conductive threads running though the weave but I was worried it was not enough thread to seal the circuit. When it came to sowing in the LEDs, I kept a running line of thread through the positive line of lights and another running line through the negative line, making sure the 2 lines never touched. In the middle image you can see that I tucked the running line of conductive thread into the weave so it was hidden.

Step 6: Testing

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When it came to testing I was successful with the felted ball but not so much with the LEDs that were sown into the woven bracelet. Out of five LEDs, I was only able to get one of them to light. It was confusing why only one worked so I decided to try some trouble-shooting to see where I went wrong.

Step 7: Trouble-shooting LEDs

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Using the e-textile testing tool I created, I check the connections through out the bracelet. When placing the tested lightly on top of the bracelet it light up right away. Since I had already tested all the LEDs before the sowing, I was really confused as to why the others weren’t lighting. I loosened some parts of the weave to see what was happening with the connection points. It all seemed fine. I tried adding in some more conductive thread to strengthen the connection to the LED, no luck.

Step 8: Finishing

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Even though I wasn’t able to see figure out why only one LED worked I still wanted to finish up the prototype to see if it all worked together. I tucked all the loose yarn from the weaving process into the woven bracelet and trimmed all the excess. It was starting to look like a finished piece. I added a felt battery pack to the back of the bracelet and snapped it in place. Again, only one LED lit. Then I added in the felt ball to see of it would trigger the light. I inserted the positive thread into one side of the felt ball and the negative thread into the other side making sure they didn’t touch each other. Unfortunately, it sucked all the power from my battery almost immediately. After replacing the battery I tried again but I noticed that when the felt ball was connected it didn’t turn the light off. The light stayed on and then I pressed the felt ball it would turn the light off. This was the opposite effect that I wanted and it would drain my battery very quickly.

Resources:
Creating a cardboard loom:
https://www.theweavingloom.com/how-to-make-a-cardboard-loom/

Felting for Beginners:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fU6tihDWHhQ

Plus class tutorials and instruction

Smart Belt

The Smart Belt is the ideal belt for people who always find the time to have a nice meal even on a busy day. When you had too much food, and you fill like you need to make your belt a bit more loose to have that last bite, you don’t need to worry about it anymore. The moment the belt detect a bit of a force stretching it, the belt will automatically add to its length.

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Strategy:

My goal was to design a relaxing belt that is useful for eating. I thought about my personal experience with belts, and one thing that consistently came to my mind was how I wish my belt could sometimes automatically change its size. As a foot lover, I felt that this would be an ideal product.

Initially, I wanted to create a long rectangular shape pompom, so that by pulling on the two sides of it, the resistance of it would decrease and would allow more current to pass through it.

After my first attempt at creating a small pompom, I realized how time-consuming this would be, so I decided to weave the belt. I created two long rectangular shape belt, place them on top of each other with a small amount of overlap, added a pompom between the overlapping area so that if you pull on the two sides of the belt, the pompom will allow current to pass through it allowing the mechanism to be activated.

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Documentation:

After the Crazy eights exercise the workshop, I decided to stick with my Smart Belt idea, as it required its own soft tech custom made sensor. As I already mentioned in the strategy section, the initial idea of creating the whole thing using felting seemed too impractical, so the design was changed to a weaved belt, with a small pompom ball as a soft switch, that would be turned on if the two pieces of the belt were pulled upon.

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To start the weaving process, I created a loom out of cardboard to help me do so. I added a conductive thread to the three center lines so that I could later use it to conduct electricity to the pompom. Then I took about 50 rounds of Yarn and started the weaving, One key point was that it was challenging to pass the 50 rounds of yarn through the loom every single row, so I ended up putting all the yarn around a small tube and used that to help me speed up the process. I started by going from the bottom and started going over and below from there. Left a small piece of yarn at the beginning to tie it up after the whole loom is done.

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After finishing the whole loom, you cut all the yarn that hold the piece to the loom. to finish the piece, you have to put all the extra yarns at the end into the piece itself. To do that, you insert the needle into the piece, put the extra bit of yarn in the needle and go into the piece itself.

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For the final touch, I used conductive thread to mark an X on the spot where the pompom is to be placed. Also added an extra bit of conductive thread to the edge of the product where the rest of the circuit is going to be connected. After finishing both of the pieces, I put them on top of each other and sewed them together.

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After finishing with the weaving, I started working on the pompom. I cut the conductive fibre into small pieces and used felting to create the small pressure sensor. Every time I did a layer of conductive fibre, I added a layer of non-conductive material. Throughout the whole process, I had to constantly use of the testing tool to make sure the distribution of the conductive material was well done. I ended up with a pompom that was great in one direction but not in another, so I sewed the pompom on to one of the X marked on the belt so that the direction would stay the same.

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I finally did some testing by pulling the belt and seeing if it would turn the LED on the testing tool on.

Insights: What knowledge did you gain from your prototype/ experiment? Don’t just include successes, your failures along the way are useful insights as well. How could you apply this knowledge?

Weaving takes a lot of time, especially if you require long pieces. Having to pass a long piece of yarn every time through the loom is very difficult, especially when you need to make sure that no knots are being made. I did end up using a small roll of paper as the place holder for the yarn and passed that through the loom. Also, I initially made sure my loom was very flat and straight, but later on realized that the fact that I could fold my loom was very helpful especially when I had to pass the big roll of yarn through every single line. When you get the flow of the process, it gets much faster, but it is very difficult to make sure every line is exactly the same length. If you push the yarns too much if will narrow your piece and makes it more difficult to weave. To make sure every line stays the same size you need to push the yarn only enough to make sure everything is tightened together without ruining the rest fo your loom.

The pressure sensor pompom requires a lot of testing. Even though I did a lot of testing while I was felting, it was still not enough. I only tested the pompom in one direction, so I ended up with a pompom that only worked in direction. I would recommend that you make sure you test the pompom in every direction and that you don’t use long pieces of conductive fibre as that would reduce the quality of the pompom and change it to a simple switch.

Information sources:

I used the Weaving Loom tutorial to create my own cardboard loom.

Next Steps:

After finishing the design, I realized that the pressure sensor conenction was too big, and I wouldn’t use it as belt myself. For my next step, I would try to add the sensor into the belt like the figure below:

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I would also make it bigger so that it would actually fit around a person’s waist. I would also add a LED to the belt itself so that it would have an indicator on it to show its status.

2019: A Knitting Odyssey

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2019: A Knitting Odyssey

Tyson Moll

The task for our body-centric class this week was to develop a component or element for a conceived design using two instances of either felting, weaving or knitting techniques. In my case, I chose to pursue felting and knitting.

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Strategy:

My initial design concept was to create a fabric dress that one could retreat inside for privacy; a wearable tent of sorts. This concept simplified to a mechanically-retractable hood, then to gauntlets that could provide coverage depending on whether a hand was clenched or not. The devices I chose to design were to act as elements of the larger idea of realizing the gauntlet. As the glove would need to be activated in some sort of manner, I focused on developing switches activated through tension or compression. What resulted included a fingertip- activated pinch switch that could be integrated into an interior mitten to activate an external closure and a felt ‘stress ball’ activator that could be positioned within the palm to activate the gauntlet (and otherwise dangle like a pom-pom from the wrist).

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With my unfamiliarity with fabric circuitry, I wanted to keep my components relatively simple and base my designs off of examples shown in class. It was hard for me to envision any of the techniques as critical components to the design of the device as my heart was set on working with a fabric that could be easily cut to shape based on unrolled geometry from Rhinoceros, but having now worked with the materials and techniques in question I feel more confident in the potential to use and incorporate more analog methods into my concepts moving forward.

KNITTING

For the knitting component, I initially decided to make a knit button based on a design shown in class consisting of two conductive layers and a middle non-conductive layer, activated in compression.

Specifications:

  • Approximately 20 loops in length and 8 repeated knit loops, with one side folded over and turned into a fingertip-sized pocket using a crochet hook to secure the edges
  • Consists of knitted yarn with sewn conductive thread integrated at the fingertip and ‘palm’ patch of the device.
  • Tools include knitting needles, a conductivity testing device and a crochet hook.

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Process:

The last time I knitted was at least a decade ago. Familiarizing myself with the process again took a solid 30 minutes of watching a 10-minute YouTube tutorial. Becoming more comfortable with the process felt like a bit of a double-edged sword as I would occasionally forget where I was in the process of the technique if distracted or mindlessly repeating the loops.

But I picked it up the next day and watched 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time… which is possibly the best film to watch in the middle of knitting.

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The knits went smoothly, but slowly. Thanks to my incredible character trait of laziness I imagined ways that I could create something interesting with the small piece I eventually would cast off. One of the first ideas that came to mind was to attach a second element to the midsection of the strip and create a pinch switch activated when the three extensions of this material would be in tension. This led me to look up how knitted pieces could be attached after being cast off, which turned out easiest with a crochet hook. This in turn inspired me to consider using the existing knit strip over top my fingertip; I wouldn’t have to create an extra piece and could use the tip as a component in a pinch switch.

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Nice.

Maybe if I had the foresight I would’ve sewn the conductive thread into the knit material prior to knitting the conductive elements but a simple star-sewn patch did the job suitably for prototyping purposes.

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FELTING

With the felting process I decided to create a simple pinch pom-pom based on the examples. Why not just activate the gloves with a ‘stress ball’? The idea to dangle it from the sleeve of a coat or the device came later.

Specifications:

  • Consists of felted white wool (approx. 2” spherical diameter) and 10” of conductive wool
  • Felt two ends of the white wool, leaving the centre unfelted. Poke a hole through the middle with your finger, then apply half of the conductive wool via felting in the two unfelted parts of the white wool. Felt the remaining wool, being sure not to connect the two patches of conductive wool together, until you create a sufficiently firm sphere.
  • Tools include a conductivity testing tool, a felting needle, a firm sponge, and a fingertip protector

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Process:

I stabbed a puffy ball of wool with a felting needle until it firmed up on both ends, then established conductive felting on both sides of the midsection of the woolly ball. I tested the device to see if it worked throughout the process; definitely most effective when fully compressed properly based on the manner I injected the conductive thread. Squish-n-go!

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I would be interested in trying again but with the conductive thread intermingled throughout the entirety of the wool in the future but I wanted to go with a design that I knew would work for my first attempt at felting. The method seems very effective as a means of concealing the circuitry as the felt seems very accommodating to the potential of it being stuffed with logic chips or the like (I would have to test how effective of an insulator the wool is and whether I could make it accessible for repair).

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End Notes

Working with these techniques took me out of The Comfort Zone and into a realm I have always been excited and interested in but never brave enough to summon the initiative and work with.

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References:

In addition to lecture notes provided by our instructors, I reviewed the following YouTube tutorials to learn how to do the techniques used in these devices.

RJ Knits. “How to Knit: Easy for Beginners” Retrieved from  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_R1UDsNOMk

HappyBerry Knitting. “How to Cast Off in Knitting”. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTAO80lAQOs

Anna Knits. “Joining Knitted Pieces 2 Ways”. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q41FlZf4NJU

Pufftique. “Needle Felting Basics for Beginners”. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fU6tihDWHhQ