Power Fist (Soft Sensor Project)

Having recently read about the fabulous TEI Superhero Design Challenge
(http://www.tei-conf.org/11/participation_/design-challenge/), I’ve been
wanting to create 
my own piece of superhumanizing attire.

Enter PowerFist, a flashy glove that imbues its wearer with ridiculously
awesome strength! As the wearer closes their fingers into a fist, the glove
will ‘charge’, and the 
emblem (a ‘P’, of course) will glow ever brighter,
showing its current power level.


Black knit glove
Neoprene (two sheets)
Conductive Thread
Conductive Fabric (iron-on)
Unholstery Foam
Red fabric
 (for the ‘P’)

3-AAA Battery Pack
Insulated wire
Circular LED array (scavenged from a flashlight)

Iteration 1:

The main component of this project was an LED array that would
change its 
brightness depending on the pressure registered by a
custom-made soft 
sensor. I used the tutorial for a Neoprene
Pressure Sensor (from How To Get What You Want,
http://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=65) to create the first iteration
of this component.


Step 1:
Cut two rectangular pieces of neoprene, and cut a tab out on each piece.

Step 2:
Using an iron, a small square of conductive fabric was attached to each tab

Step 3:
For each neoprene piece, conductive thread was sown on, with 4 lengths
parallel to eachother (and angled diagonally), and then attached to the
conductive thread on the tab.  The thread pattern was identical for each piece,
so that, when the two pieces of neoprene were placed against eachother,
the threads would form a network of X’s (this was to ensure that a circuit
was formed

Step 4:
A piece of velostat was sown over the conductive thread on one of the


The two neoprene pieces were sown together to form
the soft pressure sensor. The soft sensor was then attached in series to the
battery pack and the LED array. This iteration proved unsuccessful — the
LED array did not light up, and was most likely 
due to the fact that the
resistance of the conductive thread, together with the velostat, 
the current to an amount that wasn’t sufficient to drive all 15+ LED’s on
the array (even with maximal pressure applied).

Iteration 2:

For the second iteration of the soft sensor, I decided to forego conductive
in favor of conductive fabric, to reduce resistance. This new soft sensor
was structurally similar to the one from Iteration 1, except that a piece of
conductive fabric was used in place of the network of conductive thread.

This worked perfectly! The LED array now gradually glowed or dimmed in
response to applied pressure.

Placement of Components:

The soft sensor was attached to the palm of the glove, in the area directly
beneath the fingers. The LED array was fitted with a layer of upholstery foam
(used as a diffuser), and affixed to the dorsal side of the glove. The battery
pack was velcro’d onto 
the wrist section of the glove. All these components
were then connected together electrically with wire.

>>> See the video! <<<

Soft Sensor

Watch youtube video for details:

12 Hour Circuit

Watch youtube video for details:

12 Hour Princess Tiara

For my 12 Hour project, I decided to take a page from Kate’s book and doing a piece that lives on the head.  The head is such a stable environment, and so makes a perfect home for a circuit 🙂

My circuit is just a simple amber LED with a battery pack + wires and hot glue to secure it to the bent plexiglas headband that I made, plus a piece of aluminum foil on the other end of the headband to reflect the light from the LED.

And there it is glowing! In darker environments, the gold light could be seen along the edge of the tiara.

The battery lasted all day… amazing.


For my 12 hour circuit i decided to make a fluff!

I’m one of those creepy people that will pick fluffs off strangers, and i thought it would be funny to create a fluff with a simple curcuit that would buzz when it was removed from the clothes of the wearer. haha

The piece is below. I really want to wear it out… but i’ve been super sick with the worst flu virus ever. So I decided to post my work, and will wear the piece on Monday when i head back to OCAD (after a week off sick ). I will post the full experience before class on Tuesday!

I made the fluff using a dry felting technique with some white fleece. I created a small mushroom top, and stuck the most annoying speaker, and a small coin cell battery pack, added some conductive thread, then sewed in a mini clothespin making either side part of the circuit. When the fluff is pinned onto clothes, the clothespin is separated; and when it is plucked off, the pin closes the circuit.

Heres the Test-Run

Here’s How It Works




Cassie Laughing

She wants one too!

So I word the Fluff today to a meeting. haha. Maybe not the best idea. My sweater was slightly less thick, so it accidentally went off in the meeting. Which made everyone laugh… and suddenly everyone noticed the fluff. At the end of the meeting, everyone wanted to play with it! Their favorite part was the sound! Since it sounds like a baby wailing.

Anyway, everyone loved it! And were totally surprised that it was  “more than a fluff”.

By the end of the day the fluff stayed together, but the thread had come slightly loose, so it was UBER sensitive especially with my thin sweater. So this is something to consider next time, which is that when i was wearing it at home my sweater was thicker, and when i left the house today it was warm, so i wore something different. Because my wearable depends on the resistance between the sweater and clothespin, i should have tested the piece using different sweaters, and optimized the experience!

12 Hour Circuit

I really didnt spend much time on making the circuit.  It’s just a couple LEDs soldered to a battery with a 1k resistor. I figured that a good test of the circuit would be if I slept wearing it.  The body moves around a lot when sleeping, and the wear of the sheets and clothing against the circuit would be an ultimate test.  I simply stuck the LEDs through a pocket in my pjs and went to sleep.  In the morning, the circuit had fallen off and was lost in my sheets.  It broke at a point where the resistor and LEDs were soldered together, and this was due to the leads on the resistor being quite thin contrasted with the bulk of solder and the thicker LED leads.

Making the (extremely very simple) circuit

Attached by sticking the LED leads through the fabric of my sleeping shirt

A Night Light For My Pocket (12-Hour Challenge)

For my 12-hour circuit, I decided to construct a light-up pocket — 
I tend
to keep a large assortment of things in my pockets, 
and often find myself
fumbling in the dark (by feel only) at night for 
the knickknack that I need.

The lightup pocket is essentially a ‘second pocket’ which slips into 
existing pocket of reasonable size, making it versatile enough to 
from one garment to another. LED’s embedded in the bottom 
of an outer
layer provide illumination, while an inner layer (for storage) is suspended
above the LED’s. A soft switch on the front of the pocket turns on the LED’s
The circuitry consists of conductive thread sown into the pocket’s fabric,
dabs of hot glue for stability.

Blue Denim (for outer layer)
White Burlap (for inner layer)
3 White LED’s (soldered together in parallel)
Reflective Foil Tape
Soft Switch (Foam Rubber+ Burlap + Conductive Fabric)
Coin Cell Battery
Coin Cell Battery Holder
Conductive Thread


Before testing, I stuffed the pocket to the brim with essential daily belongings:
IPhone, earbuds, USB key, and a pack of gum. On Sunday, the light-up pocket
survived a good 8 hours in my winter coat. I will be testing its mettle with a
harsher test tonight, when I will sleep with it stuffed into a pajama pocket.

Next steps:

– Putting the LED’s in the bottom of the pocket turned out to be 
  a bad
design choice — there is not enough light to penetrate 
  the space of the
pocket when it is full of objects
– The coin cell battery, while small, lit the LED’s only dimly —
a single or double AA battery pack may work better.

Some Images:

12 Hour Glow

troll pin

troll doll

I admit I didn’t set out to make a Troll pin, but that’s the way my 12 hour circuit turned out. I will confess that I have a few from my childhood stashed somewhere in the basement of my parent’s house. They’re supposed to be lucky, right? Don’t Bingo ladies use them…

My circuit is super simple. Just a coin cell battery pack and a large red LED. I soldered the prongs of the LED right to the battery pack and used a little hot glue to keep the LED in place. The casing is made out of fleece (of course) and has a pin on the back. There is a little opening for the troll guts to slip in and out of if I need to change the battery.

Here’s hoping today is a lucky one! (I don’t play bingo but I might buy a lottery ticket for kicks.)

the 'jewel'--get it?

case with opening if i need to change the battery

all lit up and lucky

my little troll and me

hour 14

Fourteen hours, 2 yoga classes, one performance class, and tea with a friend and my little troll is still going strong. In need of a brush, but no need for a new battery or a new LED. It was kind of fun wearing this today; I got a lot of positive feedback from my peers. There’s something about the combination of felt and light that makes this object curious.

And I didn’t buy a lottery ticket. But I did get to do yoga in a window and spend time drinking tea out of handmade porcelain cups. Lucky me.

12 hour circuit

My intention for this project was to put my ‘ear sensor’ to work but unfortunately, it didn’t work. There wasn’t enough pressure inside the ear to keep the LED lit. I could have spent many hours trying alternate methods but given my time restraints, I decided to place the sensor inside the heal of my shoe. All went well.  Initially, I put the battery on the outside of the shoe but it didn’t look so great so I put in on the inside.  There is a slight discomfort that can be rectified if I rotate the battery holder.

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