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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


– 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);

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 11.52.43 AM

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;

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 11.53.54 AM

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.


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.

Published in spring 2016 wearables


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