Social Switches: Poke Wars



A classic feature of the largest social media network on the planet, the Facebook “poke” is perhaps best described as infamous for its intrusive and pointless nature. Having no real function other than to remind friends of your presence, the “poke” function spawned a colloquial and unofficial game known as the “poke war”.

Friends repeatedly poke one another until one or multiple participating parties give up. Users that have engaged in poke wars over the years sometimes have hundreds, even thousands of unchecked poke notifications from rambunctious friends eager to win the lawless and sadistic game.

This project attempts to create a live action interpretation of the Facebook “poke”, whereby users donning powered gloves and accompanying shirts poke their friends, triggering both a vibration and LED marker, alerting both the friend and those around them that they are being mercilessly and egregiously poked in a brutal, endless cycle of misery.



Electronic Components:

  • Conductive Fabric – 14×12″; LILFB-001220 (Creatron)
  • Conductive Thread – 60ft.; FLORT-000641 (Creatron)
  • LilyPad Vibration Motor; LILYP-398118 (Creatron)
  • 20mm Sewable Coin Cell Battery Holder; LILYB-008822
  • CR2032 3V Coil Cell Battery; BATTG-203200
  • 3mm LED – Red; LEDGE-000320

Other Components:

  • T-shirt – Blue & White; 527 Yonge St.
  • Cotton Glove – Blue; Black Market Used Clothing
  • Fabric Painting Medium
  • Acrylic Paint (Blue and White)
  • Fine-tipped Paint Brushes
  • Sewing Needles


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In my initial sketches, I lay out the overall idea. I toyed with housing the battery locally on the shirt, and simply using the glove as a connecting switch, however I decided that it would be more symbolic of “poke wars” if the offending user were the one to power the circuit. The t-shirt consists of the contact point for the glove, the LilyPad Vibration Motor and a red LED.



I found the alleged Facebook font online, along with the “poke” logo. With some finagling in Adobe Illustrator, I created a template with which to stencil my augmented logo onto the t-shirts.


I wasn’t too pleased with that result so I opted to go and have them printed for a modest fee.


Much better.


Comparison shot for dramatic effect.



I had browsed some info on Kobakant about making a pressure sensitive button using velum and conductive thread, however I had difficulty finding a concise tutorial on how to do it. I tried my hand at producing one but I think I was missing some steps involving an Arduino, so I put the tangental experiment away on a shelf for review at a later date.


These patches of conductive fabric act as the gap/contact point for the conductive finger tips of the glove.


I had originally planned on using a sewable LED for the garment, however the LilyPad Red LED didn’t work in parallel with the vibe board, however the itty bitty 3mm LED worked like a charm.


Testing the circuit midway through production. Components work so far!


Chalk guidelines on the glove! Instead of both traces resting on one finger, I spread them across two fingers for some leeway in the precision of the poke.


These traces were unexpectedly difficult to sew. Definitely got sweaty and red in the face while doing this. In the future, I would probably opt to use a hand mannequin to make the sewing easier.

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It works!…When I’m not wearing it? I tested the shirt while wearing it, and it didn’t seem to work 🙁 I’m not sure why and it definitely requires some scrutiny and more experimentation to figure out that kink.