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Date archive for: February 2016

wearables / week 03 – anchoring the project

Last class we had to bring an object that captures the essence of our idea – with that in mind, I brought to class a raincoat, a bike back light and a pair of fingerless gloves. We went through everybody’s objects and everyone had to describe it and/or say things that it reminded, emotions that it brought up.

When my group of objects came up, I started writing down everything people were saying. The first and the one that was repeated was “there’s a lot going on here”. Other relevant comments were:

– it’s for biking

– protection

– clear

– outdoors

– every weather

– transluscent

– light

-sticky

– movement

– light

– it’s a kit

I also hadn’t presented my narrowed version of the project, so I had the chance of doing it and I didn’t realized it was a bit everywhere. It seemed confusing to have the signal system with the gps with a sensor on the handle bar – and all powered with kinect energy made from the bike.

Therefore, I decided to make just the signalization system. In sum, it will be a pair of sticky patches that will light up and signalize to whoever is behind the biker that he/she is turning left/right. At first I thought of doing these patches to fit the elbows but after looking at some videos and also asking biker friends/realizing how i bike that it can’t be exclusive to the elbow: some people “hide” the elbow while biking, some have backpacks etc.

I went to the world wide web and started looking for similar products already existing in the market.

turn signal gloves by zackeez fancy bikers gloves that have an led arrow in each. it’s interesting but it’s not very functional (the biker still has to put the arm to the side to make the glove visible);

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butt blinkers by jen liu project made during itp summer camp, it blinks just like a car. aesthetically fun but it is attached to the pants/garment/one specific spot;

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active by actif  they describe themselves as “functional and fashionable”. jacket that has led panels that are wirelessly controlled by a toggle switch mounted on the handlebar.

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DIY projects I also found some intractable projects / DIY of bike signalization: breaking gloves and turn signal biking jacket.

After analyzing the feedback as well as the models available in the market, I decided that I’m narrowing the project to make it different from what is already there / and that consider above all the human factor (thanks “Design for Wearability” – old but gold).

My project is a signalization accessory for bikers that has as it main purpose to promote a safer & smarter commute for every biker. It will be a pair of patches that should be attached on visible areas by whoever is behind the biker and they will be wirelessly connected to the handlebars, where the biker will be able to activate the patches by touching some sensor/closing the circuit – making they light up and signalizing where they are making a turn.

core requirements:

– flexibility

– easy to attach / independent of specific body parts (person chooses where he/she wants it to be)

– all seasons

– wireless

– non-disposable attachment system

– no need of battery replacement

With some guidance from the requirements, I bought some optic fiber and started to weave (really) small fabrics to see how that worked. Since we read the technical report of wearables I’ve been very interested in trying to develop something that doesn’t feel like an electronic.

I feel that most projects loose their strength when they just put an led on it – there are so many interesting ways of lighting things up! Obviously for the fabric I needed an led, but it was not the main lighting source: it was the optic fiber that was all light up. After some tests, I saw that when I scratch/sandpaper the optic fiber it lights up even more.

Next steps:

1) I want to test a smaller thread / more fabric-ish / bigger patches;

2) Shoot bikers and understand which areas can the patches be attached;

3) Think about the circuit / how energy will flow.

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wearables / week 02

/readings

this week’s readings were very focused on how designing anything has to take serious consideration of who is using your product and in which context it’s being used. being inspired by nature or integrating nature itself in your project, (reminded me of the MIT silk pavilion: https://vimeo.com/67177328 ) your project has to consider natural behaviour of the user and the environment it will take action. design projects have to be thought through as a system, not an isolated object in the world.

and in this line of thinking, the article “Why The Human Body Will Be The Next Computer Interface” points out that the future  is walking towards a more humanized, less sci-fi machine-human interaction and/or integration. Through the evolution of computer, Fjord shows that human have been designing things in a more intuitive way of interacting with machines and how the ultimate future of computer will be the the use of our most daily routine activities and involuntary gestures as input to machines – reaching the point in which the body is the interface itself.

Although I do think that this is where we are walking towards to, I do have to say that I’m very suspicious on how natural the gestures and behaviors that will work as input in fact are. the example Fjord gave, even though seems natural when described without the machine-integration, looses all of its organic aspect once you introduce all this technology in the flirt situation.

And it’s not only a fear of mine on how this integration might make involuntary activities less natural, but also how we as creative thinkers that are on the top of the innovation chain can push people to act/behave in certain ways and in such a subtle manner that we make people perceive these new actions as an inherent gesture.

But there’s also silver linings about intervening how we behave to make life better: I think in specific cases such as the two interviews on the “Designing the human body is becoming more of a reality”, changing human behavior/perception was an interesting alternative for disabilities that are still hard to understand how to come through them.

/project narrowing

After doing the readings I got very inspired on narrowing down the project considering that a smart commuter should not only be a better commute for who is commuting but also for the place where it takes.

Therefore, I decided that my project will be a sign system for bike commuters and for the urban space it happens. So the idea is that the biker is sent a signal when he/she needs to turn as well as he’ll have elbow patches that will light up, letting other bikers/people/cars behind what he’ll do. Ideally, this would be connected to a gps, so it would work by tracking your position.

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/questions that need to be answered:

which materials will it be made of?

how it will light up?

how will it vibrate or signalize ?

will it be independent from the garment?

will it be independent from energy?

how to use the bike’s energy to energize the system?

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wearables / week 01

aaannd classes are back!

i.weave circuit

since carnaval is coming, i thought of doing something fun but i didn’t know exactly what. i went to the soft lab and started to look around the conductive materials and the fabrics & yarns they had there available to use.

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i was very curious to use this copper mesh that i found there – it seemed like a good material to work with possibly a circuit that needed some kind of flexibility. inspired by it shape as well, i decided to make a chocker that when closed it turn an LED on.

at first i got some small fabric left-overs to be sure i was doing a functioning circuit: (https://vimeo.com/153730778)

i had some issues with sewing the connection between the LED and the battery ebcause I started to make it with the conductive wire but it was not conductive enough to be a brigde between the led and the copper mesh. so after talking w teresa, i decided to try the polymer conductiver fiber and voilá – it worked !

then i went to my final version of it. i used some tutu as a base to sew the conductive fiber with the led and the copper mesh as well as to make a pocket for the battery.

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and it worked! something very funny happened when i first put it on my neck: the copper mesh and the battery were not exactly touching each other so the LED would actually only be on when I spoke.

 

 

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Sadly when I i tried to document it the copper mesh, although very flexible, is a material that has memory and was already loose in my neck. so i had to press the battery to close the circuit. not as fun but i think it was very interesting to see how the process of weaving a circuit can be more complex than expected.

ii. track of favorite garment

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right after christmas / new year I bouhgt a black cashmere scarf that for sure is my favorite garment – and having a really bad memory, i’m hoping i don’t loose it soon . I bought it from Everlane and their tagline says it all: radical transparency. They are a brand that their main goal is to offer higher quality apparel knowing its precedent, where it came from etc. Knowing they are based in the US and at first most things that they sell are made in the us, I thought the cashmere would be american – but in fact, it was made in China. It is a very soft cashmere and the length of it is great to be used around your neck or as a fake cardigan/ over your arms. Also because it’s cashmere, it warms up really well and therefore i don’t have to over layer myself (i hate having millions of layers to be warm).

And I bought on a “pay what you want” sale. Best purchase of 2016 for sure!

iii. moodboard

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the project that i intend to develop for this class has to do with bike and women. pretty much like the textile industry empowered women by being most of the time the bottleneck of the industrial revolution (like described on the article “Loosing the Thread”), learning how to ride a bicycle in the turn of the XXth century also empowered women in such a way that changes many behaviour habits/patterns. It was the first time women were actually free to commute independently, without needing anyone to take her somewhere. And also, because biking involves a lot of body movement, biking meant changes in fashion: women’s dresses became more lighter and less structured, giving them the flexibility needed to ride a bike.

in addition, after reading the “Wearable Electronics and Smart Textiles: A Critical Review” and searching for wearables focused on commuters I’ve also realized that scenario is very positive. we are in a moment that you see so many wearable technologies being thought, but it usually  goes to extreme contexts: it’s either functional (medical / nature / sportswear purpose) or form (conceptual fashion). thus, there’s a great opportunity of finding the in between those two, to associate daily life with (very)smart texiles and make it in a way that is integrated with it / doesn’t look or sound like an anomaly in your routine.

my goal in this project will be to make a smarter commute for women by associating everyday commute elements(apparel, devices, accessories and bikes) in a smart, integrated and responsive way.

looking forward to the next classes =)

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