Vibrating Knee Brace by Trish

Project Description

The intention of my final project is to build a problem-solving prototype for people who suffer from knee pains more specifically wear and tear of the joint from excessive use. As someone who has had first-hand experience with knee issues my research explored a few problems:

  • Physiotherapy which is time-consuming and expensive, with the help of this device which is intended to be an alternative (disclaimer: if recommended by a doctor) for physiotherapy for long term use as it will be a one-off purchase.
  • Running and ExerciseRunners and athletes tend to exert their bodies with the activities they do and over time they start to experience wear and tear. This device could potentially be used by people who have active lifestyles to help with knee support and rehab.
  • DrivingThere is nothing worse than having to drive when someone’s leg is in pain hence this device could potentially help ease the pain while someone is driving.
  • Discomfort ImprovementOne other way this device could be useful would be to improve the comfort of someone while they sit for long hours working, some features would include a reminder for the user if they have sat for too long in one position without stretching their knee as well as adding a pulse vibrating sensation every 30 or so minutes.

For my study, I focused my research on designing the knee brace for very mild exercise such as walking and post-workout stretches. The knee brace has four modes which are indicated by the light emitted from the NeoPixels on the circuit playground express. The brace has four DC vibration motor modules two are located on the top strap of the brace and the other two on the bottom. When the NeoPixels are red it indicates all the motors are off, yellow indicates the top motors are on, orange is for the bottom motors and green indicates all the motors are on. There is also another mode that is activated by the accelerometer feature on the playground express when someone is in motion the motors go on and off in intervals. The vibration intensity is set to a comfortable moderation so as not to cause an intensive sensation when someone is using the knee brace. To change the different modes of vibration one must press the right button on the circuit playground express.


Parts & Materials List


  1. Adafruit Circuit Playground Express (1) PART: 1528-2280-ND MFG: Adafruit Industries LLC / 3333 DESC: CIRCUIT PLAYGROUND EXPRESS
  2. Lithium-Ion Battery (1) PART: LIPO803860 MFG: Shenzhen Pkcell Battery Co. LTD DESC: LI-POLYMER BATTERY
  3. Vibration Motor Module DC (4) PART: GR-US-222 MFG: Daiko DESC: VIBRATING MOTOR MODULE DC
  4. Jumper Wires (M-F)
  5. Insulated Wire


  1. Conductive Thread PART: 1568-1804-ND MFG: SparkFun Electronics / DEV-13814 DESC: SMOOTH THREAD BOBBIN 12M (STAINLESS)
  2. Non- conductive Thread
  3. Solder Iron
  4. Knee Brace
  5. Heat Shrink
  6. Scissors
  7. Wire Stripper


Final Prototype Imagesvibrating-knee-brace

Demo Video

Development Images and Video

How it works up-close

Rapid Prototyping of Construction

In the first iteration of this prototype, the knee brace that I used had some restrictions of space and elasticity hence the circuit playground express would need added material i.e. a pocket to be placed which was not viable because the knee brace is multifunctional and can be used for intensive activities such as working out.


The second iteration was a better fit for the design I had in mind. The knee brace had good elasticity, as well as ample surface area, and was able to fit all the electronic components. However, the major issue I faced with this prototype was the wires which had to run across the knee brace but with the help of some elastic straps I added onto the brace I managed to tuck the wires away.




Circuit diagram


Code Hosted on GitHub

Project Context

Knee pain can be divided into three major categories:

During the time I would go for physiotherapy sessions to help with my grade 1 chondromalacia also known as runner’s knee I would undergo nerve stimulation using a Transelectrical Nerve Stimulator(TENS). Below is a brief explanation of how TENS inspired my design;


For my code, I was inspired by an Adafruit project the glowing LED team badge for Pokemon Go by Richard Albritton that uses the Circuit Playground to make someones own night-time safety + team spirit wearable. As it is quite difficult to show vibration on a wearable I opted to use the light emitted from the circuit playground express  NeoPixels to indicated the different vibration modes.  Another project that inspired my design idea is by Becky Stern a vibrating headband for timing meditation sessions. It uses a haptic motor controller that can execute different vibrational patterns such as waveforms, taps, clicks, fuzzes, hums, and bumps.


The idea of my device is to bridge the gap of convenience by introducing an alternative for physiotherapy that is on the go and can be used anywhere and the iTENS (see image above) does just this same job. It is a modern-day electrotherapy device that merges technology with the proven results of “TENS therapy” to provide effective and lasting pain relief via a simple medical device app. The iTENS uses a mobile app to operate an all wireless Bluetooth based electrotherapy device that is FDA-Cleared for over-the-counter use to combat pain.


Some of the challenges I experienced while working on this project include; connecting the vibrating motors to the circuit playground express as I was using three-pin motors the best option I had was to uses wires for the connection so that it is stable. Hiding the wiring was the main issue as well as placing the wires such that they do not cause distractions while the brace is in use. As a further iteration, I would perhaps look at different types of motors that require less wiring. Another challenge I faced in the initial iteration was the material I used to bridge the connection of the top and bottom straps of the knee brace elasticity is very crucial in this design which was something I came to learn later.


The circuit playground was easy to sew onto the knee brace and did not cause any obstructions while in use. The modification to bridge the top and bottom straps of the brace was a great addition. The connection used a battery hence it did not cause any obstruction with loose hanging wires and this made portability easy.

Further Study

Some things that I would like to revise in the project for further development include; changing the colour modes I used as I did not account for colour blindness in my study, perhaps the next version will use light intensity as opposed to colour. The next thing would be to have the circuit playground light up in different modes i.e. if the top motors are on then the top half of the NeoPixels light up. I would also like to build an app to help with the ease of changing the settings as well as add capacitive touch sensors instead of using a button in order to have each sensor have its own mode. I would also hope to incorporate some of the ideas from the iTENS company as well as adding more features such as heating pads and a timer to improve the efficiency of the device.


About iTENS, LLC. (n.d.). ITENS.

Glowing LED Team Badge for Pokemon Go. (2016, July 20). Adafruit Learning System.

HailiCare Health & Beauty. (n.d.). HailiCare Heated Knee Massager. HailiCare Health & Beauty.

Haptic Headband. (2015, November 25). Adafruit Learning System.

Johnson, M. I. (2007). Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) in Treatment of Mus. SpringerLink.

Knee Pain: How to Choose the Right Knee Brace for Your Child. (n.d.). HealthyChildren.Org.

Knee Pain Treatment, Causes, Remedies, Symptoms. (2021, February 24). MedicineNet.


Ease The Pressure by Trish


As the pandemic has left us working from home we find the fatigue of sitting on our desks behind our screens all day. For my prototype I have designed a device a to help ease the pressure on ones elbows while they work. I used Expanded Polyethylene also known as EPE Foam because of its flexibility, compressible and shockaborbing properties as the the main part of the prototype. Sandwiched inside the EPE foam is a conductive (aluminum foil) and resistive (velostat) materials to create a pressure sensor that lights up the Adafruit Circuit Playground Express .

Parts & Materials


  1. Adafruit Circuit Playground Express
  2. USB charger
  3. Copper Tape
  4. 10K ohm Resistor
  5. Alligator to alligator clips


  1. Copper tape
  2. Aluminum Foil
  3. Expanded Polyethylene
  4. Velostat
  5. Double sided tape

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Step 01 – Cut out EPE foam(2 pieces), foil(2 pieces) and velostat(1 pieces) in half in desired shape in this case circles as well as some strips of copper tape

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Step 02 – Assemble the pieces together in a sandwich using double sided tape in this order EPE foam, foil and copper tape, velostat, foil and copper tape and cover with EPE foam.


Step 03– Attach the aluminum foil onto one end of the alligator clips and then the other end to the Circuit Playground Express and test the circuit.

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Code Hosted on GitHub

Circuit Diagram



How to Make an E-Textile Analog Sensor. (2020, May 30). [Video]. YouTube.

Hello: The Social Distance Greetings by Trish

‘Social Distance’ has become the new buzz word of the decade not being able to hug, shake hands or even stand too close. For this prototype I have tried to redefine how people can say hello to each other in interesting ways borrowing ideas from the Black Panther movie and the pandemic greetings.

1.The Wakanda Hello

Interactive GIF



The Wakanda Hello is a pair of gloves that uses conductive materials to light an LED to signal that someone is gesturing hello. This prototype is a body gesture of one crossing hands on the chest, it has two coins attached to a pair of gym gloves that when they come into contact an LED lights up.

As we have changed the way in which we now say hello due to the pandemic the Wakanda Hello makes for a fun way for people to greet each other. The connection is simple and straightforward and could also be an interesting way to say hello to people even over video calls.

Materials and Parts
Gym Gloves
Double Sided Tape
Alligator Clips
Full Size Breadboard
Arduino Nano 33 IoT
Jumper Wires
LilyPad Tri-Color LED
USB cable


This prototype was quite interesting to work on, some of the challenges I faced was finding materials I could work with but managed to improvise with what I have. As a future iteration I would hope to make the connection less bulky and with less wires which would get tangled up during testing, as well as add different light modes to indicate someone’s mood. Some of the things that worked was the gesture was quite seamless and the idea of using coins as the conductive material was fun to work with.

Detail Images

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Circuit Diagram


2.The Elbow Hello

Interactive GIF



The elbow greeting has become the new normal in an effort to help reduce the spread of the Coronavirus. The Elbow Hello is a prototype I made using a pair of old socks for the stretch material, its worn just below the elbow and has a social switch. I used aluminum foil as the conductive material that lights up an LED when someone’s elbow bumps with someone else to complete the circuit.

Materials and Parts
Masking Tape
Double Sided Tape
Alligator Clips
Full Size Breadboard
Arduino Nano 33 IoT
Jumper Wires
White LEDs
USB cable
Aluminum foil  


This prototype was a bit difficult to work with especially when making the prototype it required some improvisation with materials and alot of try and error. The finishing wasn’t very clean but it worked well in terms of interactivity, I would like to further explore a less bulky iteration with no wires hanging loosely.

Detail Images 

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Circuit Diagram


3.The Mask Hello

Interactive GIF



For this third prototype I used a mask as it has now become a part of our daily outfits whenever we go outside. The idea for this was to have LEDs create a smiley face at the front of someone’s mask to signal a hello when the LEDs light up. I made a button switch in between the masks lining using felt and aluminum foil so when the two pads of the button come into contact the LEDs light up.

Materials and Parts
Masking Tape
Surgical Mask
Double Sided Tape
Alligator Clips
Full Size Breadboard
Arduino Nano 33 IoT
Jumper Wires
Green LEDs
USB cable
Aluminum foil  


Some of the challenges I face in this prototype was figuring out what would be the best connection for the switch, initially I had thought of a contact switch but the design didn’t quite work out when it came to execution. The second challenge I faced especially not having conductive thread was connecting the LEDs but I managed to improvise with a conductive wire. Overall the prototype came out well and it was a great learning experience seeing what worked and what needed to be improved.

Detail Images 

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Circuit Diagram


Code hosted on Github

Music Festival Headband by Trish


During these uncertain times of the pandemic we find ourselves looking back and longing to go out for social gatherings. For my prototype I decided to design a headband that lights up to the beat of the music. Its use is not limited to music festivals can be worn at house parties and other events that involve music.

The music festival headband is a wearable device that is designed to light up the world of the user the idea is to capture the attention of the people that surround the user. The headband has a sound sensor that captures the beats of the music to light up the LEDs insync with the music, when the music is off the headband doesn’t light up.

The device consists of 8 different colour LEDs connected to an arduino nano on a breadboard and also has a  microphone sound sensor module that detects the sound of the music. The wires are wrapped around the frame of the headband and covered with ribbons so as not to be visible. As we are limited to make use of the supplies we have at home I covered up the long hanging wires with black ribbon so as to mimic or give the illusion of someone’s hair as a next iteration I would like to explore less bulky electronics so as to keep the design compact.

Some of the challenges I faced while designing the headband was figuring out how to place the LEDs especially because I didn’t have any conductive thread but eventually improvised with wires. The full sized breadboard was also very bulky so I packed it in my fanny pack so that its not seen for when someone is moving around although it is not a long term solution but for a prototype it worked well. From Clint Zeagler work “Where to wear it” he mentions that a wearable for sensing can be worn on the head.


(4) red LEDs, (2) blue LEDs, (2) green LEDs

(1) Arduino Nano 33 IoT

(20) M-F Dupont Jumper Cables

(1) Solderless Breadboard

(2)Standard Insulated pointed wire

(1)Microphone sound sensor module

Red and Black ribbon

Glue gun

USB cable


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ORPHE ONE are a pair of shoes that emits lights and sounds in sync with the wearer’s every foot movement whether a step or a jump. Equipped with full-color LED soles and high-precision motion sensor technology, the revolutionary performance of this smart shoes is sure to capture the eye of the audience. The shoes can be linked, customized and controlled using an app. The shoes are interesting because they can literally help someone communicate their feelings without having to say a word.


As my projects is an accessory I’ll mention the Joule it is made as a piece of jewelry.  Joule has a heart rate monitor that helps one to achieve the best result for their workout, by providing the heart rate information while they are working out. It also tracks the calories burnt not only when one is exercising, but also accounts for the missing 90% daily caloric expenditure. Even though it doesn’t light up it is still. a very useful wearable and a compact and discreet on at that.

Having gone hiking with the Energizer headlamp I must say in terms of convenience of having a headlamp is great but in terms of comfort it wasn’t the best experience. Some of the features include. VisionGuard protects vision by gradually increasing light intensity. Low battery indicator. IPX4 water resistant and shatterproof lens construction. Latest LED technology and patented optics, delivering exceptional vision, up to 15X brighter than standard LED technology. 6 Modes High, Low, Flood, Red, Red Flashing, Green. Features LED Technology.


B. (2016). Joule Smart Earring Backs to track fitness! Joule.

LED Headlamps and Headlights. (2021). Energizer.

no new folk studio. (2020, July 22). ORPHE ONE|ORPHE. ORPHE|