Heart Skips a Beat


Heart Skips a Beat


  • Project description:

This project is an easy to wear vest made out of a pair of old jeans, with a cut-and-sew heart using felt as its material. The heart is being controlled by the circuit express playground board, and a servo as the actuator to pull the thread attached to the heart to mimic the mechanism of a heart beating. The Neopixels on the board would gradually light up one after one to sync with the “heartbeat”. When the left button on the board is being pressed, all the Neopixels would turn into pink color and the servo would stop for a few seconds, it expresses the concept of “Heart Skips a Beat”.

  • Final photos:

hhh hhh2 hhh3 mmm

  • Circuit diagram or schematic


  • link to code on GitHub


  • Process photos and notes and supporting illustrations.

Before starting this project, there’s a pair of ripped jeans that I had since the beginning of this semester, and instead of throwing them away, I’ve always wanted to turn that into something new. So I kind of played with the placement of the jeans on myself and see how it would inspire me, eventually, I made my decision by simply making it into a vest, because it could fit on different body shapes and easy to put on/take off.

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Once I know what I wanted to make, I started to cut the jeans apart and sew the edges to make them clean and the orange thread gives the look a vibrant touch.

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The most difficult part for me would be the placement of the actuator and how should it be looked like when working, I had multiple ideas but the key part would be placed at where the heart is located.


Here I am with my initial design that aimed to have a flower blossoming movement at heart, to make this work, I looked up some videos to learn its mechanism and tried to figure out how to recreate that. I made the flower with felt and used a cup to hide the servo and everything else inside, it didn’t work as I imagined probably due to the material I chose, if I went for a more smooth material, it had more potential to perform its purpose.

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Then I had the idea that since the placement is at the heart, why not just make an “artificial heart” which mimics the movement of a heart beating. I used a fabric pen to mark the outline of a heart shape on two pieces of felt and cut them out, stuffed it with cotton balls and stitched around to secure the shape.


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After the heart was made, it was time to create the pumping heart mechanism, I searched for a supporting part to give it the bounce and my eyes landed on a spring cat toy, which came in the perfect size and color. I used hot glue to bond the spring to a transparent dome and the felted heart, with a thread going through in between which tied to the servo arm for movement.

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Knowing that it’s working as I expected, I then moved on to the assembly process by settling the position of everything, in the meantime, my original plan was to cover the dome but I somehow liked the way it was showing the electronic part and how it works, which goes really well with the artificial concept.

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  • lessons learned / next steps

I’ve always considering that materials could be reused and how to create a sustainable design method is rather crucial nowadays, for this project, I was using a pair of ripped jeans as the main carrier for my design. This is something that I’m interested in and will potentially explore more.

  • Project Context

My project was meant to explore how to express an emotional statement in a more physical and tangible way. We hear people say things like “my heart just skips a beat” when they encountered something that’s triggering their emotion, it could be happy or thrilling. I firstly aimed to present that by using the flower blossoming mechanism, also I felt like a flower is a good metaphor. I started to look up related projects and tutorials online and I found a couple videos that were inspiring. Below is a project called Touch Me Not by Neha Shrestha & Rudransh Mathur, they created an artificial flower that would close its petals when the conductive thread being touched, mimicking the plant mimosa pudica. This project gave me the idea of using a similar mechanism to present the ideal flower blossom in my expectation. I also tried another tutorial as shown below, which allowed me to build the flower with cardboard and paper. U unfortunately, both of these methods did not perfectly suit my design, especially since I wanted them to be attached to a human chest position, it would be hard to hide and perform its purpose.

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Touch Me Not by Neha Shrestha & Rudransh Mathur

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Origami Flower that Open and Closes: Paper Flower by DIY Queen


After decided to move on to the felted heart design, I found it easier and somewhat vivid in terms of the movement of a beating heart. And then, I found this project called EMO created by Ping-Chieh, Hsieh, Jung Tu, Wimwomwan Wichiaikhamjorn, they designed this wearable piece and thinking it like a self-critique tool that could prove the thought and in the same time differentiate these two states. I noticed that they were using a muscle sensor and LED strips which I think at this moment, most of us are expressing different emotions with colors and that was based on a scientific reason and common sense, colors have been used to describe emotions for ages and that’s why I chose to use multiple colors that light up with a rainbow effect along with the heartbeat movement because I think that was the most “neutral” way to represent it, as for the pinkish color I chose to present “heart skips a beat” was because I didn’t want to make the stop seems too extreme, after all, it is not aimed to express a single emotion, it could be either happy or thrilling.

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EMO by Ping-Chieh, Hsieh, Jung Tu, Wimwomwan Wichiaikhamjorn


Along my journey of researching, this project really caught my eyes, the designer used Arduino as the microcontroller to send out the signal for movements. The LEDs are being triggered by hands inside the pockets, I assumed it was a button hidden which doing the job. The eyeballs were attached to servos which will be activated when the microphone captures the source of the sound. This is an interesting project that not only using LEDs to express emotions, but also using servos to create movements to bring things to life. It inspired me to go for both movement and light since I was debating which one I should be focusing on more. At the same time, the designer managed to hide everything underneath the garment which went well with the design, as for my project, I chose to show the electronic parts because I think that suited my concept more and completed my design in an unusual way.

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Wearable technology: a dress activated by Arduino by Michal Stern


  • References

“EMO – Emotive wearable to explore a field of human’s emotional feelings through wearable.” YouTube video, 1:01. “J Du” Jul 2, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xneovFQ9Bb8

“Interactive Touch Flower Prototype (touch me not)” YouTube video, 1:11. “ArtScience BLR” Mar 15, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Tt0xLZ7c-g

“Wearable technology: a dress activated by Arduino” YouTube video, 0:33. “Shushonet” Apr 16, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q88P-FdoecI

“Origami Flower that Open and Closes: Paper Flower” YouTube video, 5:46. “DIY QUEEN” Mar 6, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61_Bm20XjMU

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