The City of Love – Wearables and more.. Chen & Frank & Mehnaz

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Ideation & Brainstorming                                                                                                                           

When we decided to create a wearable device in an amusement park environment, we first thought that creating human emotions and human contact..from coming there, first idea that we generated was as Toronto being an immigrant city, having people contact in a different level with the loved ones. Taking this to consideration, we thought that we can map a camera view of a person on an object and having this in both sides of the world for both people who are in communication through computers. Since we found out that XBees do not travel that long distance we reshaped our thoughts around keeping it in a short distance but adding more love to our idea.

The next step was improving the idea of HUGGING in a meaningful manner with a narrative behind.

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On the street of Toronto, the big installation takes its place, made out of plastic, (white acrylic) boxes the structure represents the city scape. 2 projectors to be installed as they are located to project on 4 sides of the sculpture. Mapping with a mapping software the images represent the cities which are known as most romantic cities in the world beside Toronto city image.

One block will capture a flashing banner which is; ” Can Toronto Be The City of Love?” question.

Having a wearable device sawn shirt which includes XBee, LilyPad and conductive material, one person will welcome visitors who are also wearing a conductive shirt or a necklace. As they hug the person who has the device, they close the circuit and an identifier coloured LED starts lighting on the person’s shirt who has the device. This colour represents the first person who hugs first. At the same time, same colour of light bubbles start floatin on the structure’s surface to represent filling it with love.

When second person hugs, new coloured LED takes place and new colour starts floating on the structure. As many people hugs, the structure collects more colours as representing more love. For people who don’t have the shirts, like public walking by, we designed a necklace to share the experience. The shirts and the necklace can be thought as marketing feature, or supporting a cause, as a result of public contribution, those can be the key items to be sold and/or given away.

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Conductive fabric added necklace : We also used sheet copper to connect the two pieces of necklace to create flex possibility to reach to close the circuit on shirts with the necklace.

 3D Printing:

Before setting the city scape idea, we thought about having a small 3D printed model of the actual sculpted piece.


Rhino 3D model representing HUG


Rhino 3D Sketch


Four views of Rhino 3D model



The City of Love is made of;

3 wearable shirts,

LilyPad Arduino 328 Main Board

Lilypad XBee

2 XBee devices

JST Lipo Battery connector

Arduino board


Conductive fabric

Conductive thread



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How did we make it work?

We thought that if the person hug the wearing device is better. So we choice the LilyPad Arduino 328 Main Board, XBee and Lilypad XBee to send and recieve the wireless signal.

As this project is our the first time to work with XBee, we needed to experiment with XBees many times .

1. XBee—XBee, two XBees send and receive signal from each other.

2. XBee—Arduino, We used XBee with breadboard through Arduino to send and receive signal to another XBee

we had a problem as we couldn’t  upload the code to Arduino when we  connect it

with XBee, so we have to take off the two PINs – TX & RX, so Arduino can receive the


3. XBee—LilyPad Arduino & XBee,

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First problem we had that we couldn’t send signal from Arduino to XBee , but we could have received  signal from the XBee to Arduino. After discussing with our TA, which also made him think a lot, we were concerned that the PX-PIN on Lilypad should link to the same PIN in the Lilypad XBee, but Ryan told us that maybe the problem is the RX-PIN onthe Lilypad should link to the TX-PIN on the Lilypad XBee, and the TX-PIN link to RX-PIN. We tried it, and it worked. An other question is that the LilyPad Arduino 328 Main Board doesn’t have the case to link the battery, it has 6 holes and we were not quite sure what they were for. After searching the Schematic about the board in Sparkfun and we found the power hole and the the ground. Then we bought a JST Lipo Battery connector and soldered it on the LilyPad.

At the beginning of the project, we wanted to use a pressure sensor to control the signal with the interaction. After discussing it told us that we came to a point of not thinking as a button but an initiator, so it can be anything magical like using conductive fabric. At this point project started to be more fun. We used the conductive fabric as the buttons. We made one fabric circle to be connected with power and two other connected to the ground. Ground connected fabric was also linked with #7 & #8 PIN. There is also a resistor between the pins and fabric.


When the circle cut fabric of #7 or #8 PIN is connected to the fabric which is attached to power, the Arduino can recognize the signal and send it to Processing to control the animation. We set up two colours, one is blue and one is yellow. We sewed the context on a black microfiber shirt with conductive thread which created the “base” shirt. We also sewed two bigger pieces of conductive fabric on a blue shirt and a yellow shirt. Person who wears the blue shirt hugs the person who wears the base shirt, as conductive fabric on the blue shirt covers the two fabric circles on the base shirt as it closes the circuit, Arduino recognizes the HUG.

We sewed two LEDs which are linked in #10 & #13 PINs on the base shirt to distinguish and show whether the HUG works. As the sewing is a hard work it was very challenging to connect the LED on a synthetic material which has no grip. As the thread shouldn’t overlap each other, we had to try to create a different direction with each connection.

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After this step we started testing and found out connection problems. For example, if the height of the person who wears the base shirt is different, conductive area on the coloured shirts did not meet the circles. So we have added more fabric to yellow coloured shirt to raise create more coverage. With more testing we found out the best area of the body to contact when two people hug, and sewed the bigger conductive fabric there.

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In terms of Arduino codes, there are two main functions to achieve the interaction human hugging and computers. One is to communicate with processing program. The other one is to detect signals from different digital pin ports.

The principle of detecting different identities can be seen as a simple example of enlightening a LED by pressing a button. Specifically, on our t-shirt, the trigger of interaction is that assumes the conductive fabric as a button. Then, open or close the circuit to detect the statement of “HIGH” or “LOW”. The statement can be detected easily by digital pin ports of Arduino board. Therefore, according to different pin ports, we can achieve detecting different identities.

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Arduino code

To achieve the collective love bubble effect, we use communication between Processing and Arduino. Processing detects different values from different digital pin port so that Processing can detect different identities as well. Additionally, singular color dots will be active after one circuit has been completed. The increasingly colorful dots rising effect is achieved through decreasing y-axis value. Also, random method has been added to vary speed of the dynamic effect. Another function of Processing is to play music after detected the first closed circuit.

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Processing code – Collective love effect

Collective love effect (test vision without XBee)

To fit the surface of the structure, we use VPT to adjust the interface. Also, for creating the sense of city, we simulate neon light effect on our slogan by using random color on the text.

Neon light effect

Creating the structure:

We wanted to use this setting as a street installation in Toronto downtown. Setting a big base structure of acrylic blocks on about 10’X 10′ area about 10 feet high, and projecting the images on 4 or more surfaces…also the reality can bring more development such as having different interacting images on each surface as an addition to city pictures and the code projection.

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Mapping with VPT

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Bill of Materials

Assembly List

Label Part Type Properties
LED1 Blue LED type single color; color Blue; polarity common cathode
LED2 Blue LED type single color; color Blue; polarity common cathode
Part1 Lilypad Arduino Board type Lilypad Arduino
Part2 LilyPad XBee type Wireless; protocol XBee
R3 220Ω Resistor bands 4; pin spacing 400 mil; tolerance ±5%; package THT; resistance 220Ω
R4 220Ω Resistor bands 4; pin spacing 400 mil; tolerance ±5%; package THT; resistance 220Ω
U1 LIPO-1000mAh variant 1000mAh; package lipo-1000

Shopping List

Amount Part Type Properties
2 Blue LED type single color; color Blue; polarity common cathode
1 Lilypad Arduino Board type Lilypad Arduino
1 LilyPad XBee type Wireless; protocol XBee
2 220Ω Resistor bands 4; pin spacing 400 mil; tolerance ±5%; package THT; resistance 220Ω
1 LIPO-1000mAh variant 1000mAh; package lipo-1000



Case Studies: 

1- Pillow Fight Club Study

  • Interaction: person to person, person to object

When two people have pillow fight, interaction sends signal to display images

  • Technology: sensing and display

They used same technology as our project XBees and Arduino, processing software as they created images as a result of a wireless interaction

  • Narrative: simple

It is a simple narrative which is already a life experience for many people.


2- Super Hero Communicating Cuffs

The Superhero Communicator Cuffs enable brave souls to call on their partners in a time of need. This tutorial demonstrates how to send and receive wireless signals without the use of micro controllers or programming. You will learn how to configure Xbee radios, build a basic soft circuit , and work with conductive thread and conductive fabric.

How it works: Each pair of cuffs has an electronic switch made of conductive fabric. When the wrists are crossed, a wireless signal is transmitted which
activates the LED on your partner’s set of cuffs, beckoning to them that you need Super Hero assistance! Since you’ll be making two pairs of communicator cuffs, this tutorial will be great to make with a friend!

  • Interaction: person to person, person to object
  • Technology: sensing and wireless communication
  • Narrative: simple


3- SMILE – Interactive Lights

SMILE was originally created for an all-night outdoor installation at Toronto Nuit Blanche in the historic Fort York park. Each cube is outfitted with a high-brightness RGB LED, a SLA battery, and is wirelessly programmable. Additionally, the cubes can form a mesh-network, communicating with each other or receiving commands from a central computer.

  • Interaction: person to object, object to person
  • Technology: wireless communication
  • Narrative: simple


4- Dream Jammies

Icon: Chizuko Horman
Embroidery: Melody Litwin

Dream Jammies are pajamas which are aware of your body in several ways. They know whether you are standing or laying down, tossing or lying quietly. Dream Jammies also know your body temperature. This information is relayed to your partner’s iPhone, and expressed on their screen in color, changing in realtime.

As you lay down to sleep, the screen fades from green to blue, the shade of blue reflecting your body temperature. As you roll around, the screen flickers red. By shaking the iPhone your partner is able to reach out, causing the chest of your pajamas to vibrate. Not pleasant while you sleep, but a perfect alarm clock. Not only are you able to keep in touch while living on opposite sides of the world, Dream Jammies offer insight into how you sleep by capturing data as you snooze.







Make: Wearable Electronics , Hartman K., 2014, Toronto, Canada

Social Body Lab, OCAD

Super Hero Communicating Cuffs

Moment Factory