Reading Assignment 3

A Construction Kit for Electronic Textiles by Leah Buechley

Summary:

Construction kits have been widely used as a useful and engaging prototyping tools for designers to visualize their design ideas, explore different mediums and refine of their concepts. As electronic-textiles have recently introduced and incorporated in wearable computing research designing technologies that are affordable to be carried around or attached on our bodies. This paper talked about how construction kits can help serving as a prototyping tool for designers to engaging e-textile prototypes with the integration of electronics and different kinds of clothing. A normal e-textile construction kit contains numbers of objects: a microcontroller, an assortment of sensors and actuators, an infrared (IR) transceiver, an on/off switch and a battery pack. Taking consideration of the making necessary parts to be conductive in the prototype, these components are designed and stitched to cloth using conductive thread so that electric can be conducted thoroughly.

 

The heart of the kit is the stitch-able microcontroller. It consists a fabric printed circuit board (PCB), an integrated circuit (IC) socket, a filtering capacitor and a microcontroller. There are 16 controllable pins laid out on the board and they are connected to tabs that allow programmers to do programming. To create interactions for the prototype, there are components in the kit for designers to use as inputs and outputs, such as lights, temperature, and pressure sensors. We can use different kinds of sensors to attach with the microcontroller and various types of circuits to complete the electrical connections. The advantage of this package is that allow users to use sensors intuitively without worrying too much about how to wire sensors to the design. Outputs like RGB LEDs and a vibration motor are included in the package as well where users can use them. They are also designed to be sewn with cloths and fabric like beads and sequins. A communication device are also installed in the kit which is the IR transceiver module, where it is attached with conductive fabric tabs and labeled to indicate how the transceiver should be attached in a design.

Since we are working with electronics devices, in common sense that we know fabrics are not conductive in general. Hence, the use of conductive threads and insulator is needed to design e-textile prototype. This kit also includes a spool of conductive threads with certain level of resistances and a tube of thick fabric paint. The creator of this kit also took consideration of the potential problem of parts that would expose traces and surfaces. Therefore this is where the thick fabric paint comes in handy. This practice allows users to apply over conductive stitching parts, in which the paint functions as a durable and flexible insulator, preventing short circuits.

 

With all these useful and engaging components and external sources of materials provided both in the kit and by users, we are able to produce robust e-textile prototypes based on our design ideas. There are couple examples of wearable e-textile prototypes that showed the creative use of the e-textile construction kit. For example, a Temperature-Sensing Hat was designed with a microcontroller and temperature sensor along with the RGB LED attaching with a on and off switch. The LEDs show different colors according the different degrees of temperature in the environment. All the sensing parts are knitted on the top of the hat to get a better reading of the temperature.

 

In short, the transformation of this e-textile construction kit has provided more opportunities to female designers and engineers. It has opened up a door for women and girl to participate in embedded computing and electrical engineering, where they can perform their textile skills as well as gaining working knowledge and experience in create wearable devices.

 

Selected quote :  “If designers and educators can harness this energy, perhaps we can spark a popular e-textile hobbyist culture, increasing the technological literacy of students and inspiring the next generation of designers and engineers.”

 

To sum up to quote : The transformation of this construction kit brings in togetherness and a shared learning experience for everyone, breaking the boundaries of your gender, ages, and areas of expertise.

 

Reading Assignment 3

A Construction Kit for Electronic Textiles by Leah Buechley

Summary:

Construction kits have been widely used as a useful and engaging prototyping tools for designers to visualize their design ideas, explore different mediums and refine of their concepts. As electronic-textiles have recently introduced and incorporated in wearable computing research designing technologies that are affordable to be carried around or attached on our bodies. This paper talked about how construction kits can help serving as a prototyping tool for designers to engaging e-textile prototypes with the integration of electronics and different kinds of clothing. A normal e-textile construction kit contains numbers of objects: a microcontroller, an assortment of sensors and actuators, an infrared (IR) transceiver, an on/off switch and a battery pack. Taking consideration of the making necessary parts to be conductive in the prototype, these components are designed and stitched to cloth using conductive thread so that electric can be conducted thoroughly.

 

The heart of the kit is the stitch-able microcontroller. It consists a fabric printed circuit board (PCB), an integrated circuit (IC) socket, a filtering capacitor and a microcontroller. There are 16 controllable pins laid out on the board and they are connected to tabs that allow programmers to do programming. To create interactions for the prototype, there are components in the kit for designers to use as inputs and outputs, such as lights, temperature, and pressure sensors. We can use different kinds of sensors to attach with the microcontroller and various types of circuits to complete the electrical connections. The advantage of this package is that allow users to use sensors intuitively without worrying too much about how to wire sensors to the design. Outputs like RGB LEDs and a vibration motor are included in the package as well where users can use them. They are also designed to be sewn with cloths and fabric like beads and sequins. A communication device are also installed in the kit which is the IR transceiver module, where it is attached with conductive fabric tabs and labeled to indicate how the transceiver should be attached in a design.

Since we are working with electronics devices, in common sense that we know fabrics are not conductive in general. Hence, the use of conductive threads and insulator is needed to design e-textile prototype. This kit also includes a spool of conductive threads with certain level of resistances and a tube of thick fabric paint. The creator of this kit also took consideration of the potential problem of parts that would expose traces and surfaces. Therefore this is where the thick fabric paint comes in handy. This practice allows users to apply over conductive stitching parts, in which the paint functions as a durable and flexible insulator, preventing short circuits.

 

With all these useful and engaging components and external sources of materials provided both in the kit and by users, we are able to produce robust e-textile prototypes based on our design ideas. There are couple examples of wearable e-textile prototypes that showed the creative use of the e-textile construction kit. For example, a Temperature-Sensing Hat was designed with a microcontroller and temperature sensor along with the RGB LED attaching with a on and off switch. The LEDs show different colors according the different degrees of temperature in the environment. All the sensing parts are knitted on the top of the hat to get a better reading of the temperature.

 

In short, the transformation of this e-textile construction kit has provided more opportunities to female designers and engineers. It has opened up a door for women and girl to participate in embedded computing and electrical engineering, where they can perform their textile skills as well as gaining working knowledge and experience in create wearable devices.

 

Selected quote :  “If designers and educators can harness this energy, perhaps we can spark a popular e-textile hobbyist culture, increasing the technological literacy of students and inspiring the next generation of designers and engineers.”

 

To sum up to quote : The transformation of this construction kit brings in togetherness and a shared learning experience for everyone, breaking the boundaries of your gender, ages, and areas of expertise.

 

Posted 2 years ago & Filed under e-textile, construction kits, wearable devices, technology, media arts,

About:

I am Andrea Lau and this is last semester in SFU. IAT 320 is one of the core courses I need to take for my Media Arts concentration as I am doing double concentrations ( both design and media arts)

Nevertheless, I enjoy taking this class because we have good instructor and TA and the course materials are informative and interesting. I am doing this blog to document and reflect on all my assignment and projects of this course.