Thursday, November 12, 2009

Designer Duo Create a Dress With 24,000 LEDs

From Wired Website by Priya Ganapati:

Photo: J.B. Spector/the Museum of Science and Industry
Next time you compliment a woman at a party that’s she glowing, it may literally be so. Two London-based designers have created a dress embroidered with 24,000 full color LEDs .
Called the ‘Galaxy Dress’ it claims to be the largest wearable display in the world and will be the center piece of an exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

“We used the smallest full-color LEDs, flat like paper, and measuring only 2 by 2 mm,” say designers Francesca Rosella and Ryan Genz in an email. “The circuits are extra-thin, flexible, and hand embroidered on a layer of silk in a way that gives it stretch so the LED fabric can move like normal fabric with lightness and fluidity.” The duo run an interactive clothing company called CuteCircuit.

To diffuse the LED light, the dress has four layers of silk chiffon and a pleated silk organza crinoline skirt. The extra-thin electronics allows the dress to follow the body shape closely like with normal fabric.

Instead of having one large and heavy battery, the dress is designed to run on many tiny iPod batteries hiding in the crinoline, says Rosella. “They are not visible or uncomfortable,” she says.
With the batteries, the Galaxy Dress wearer can walk around–all lit up–for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

The areas without LEDs are decorated with more than 4000 hand-applied Swarovski crystals that range from clear crystal to bright pink. “The dress looks good even when it is switched off,” say the designers.

See a video of the LED Dress that, according to the designers, consumes about the same electricity as two household bulbs. (Warning...the video is mesmerizing!)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Smart fabrics, e-textile solutions

Specialty Fabrics Review November 2009
available at

Although still in its infancy, the market for smart fabrics and interactive textiles is expected to grow to $1.13 billion in 2010. Participants in the one-day technical symposium “Smart, e-textile solutions” heard from nine speakers about how the textile and electronics markets are working together to bring commercial applications to this growing market.

The military market currently has the greatest demand for these textiles, and those needs are driving innovation. Soldiers need wired technology rather than wireless for security, and textiles become carriers for the technology.

Eric Gans, director of systems engineering, Physical Optics, spoke about the critical role the use of connectors play in construction of garments made of flexible fabrics that carry technology (such as USB connections). Connectors need to perform in many environments and allow for comfort, flexibility and rotation of parts of the garment. The need for a good working relationship between electrical engineers and designers is clear. Leah Buechley, an assistant professor from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, introduced the participants to the LilyPad Arduino, a kit for prototyping electronic textiles.

Michael Corbet from WEEL Technologies summarized the construction and manufacture of smart garments in terms of putting it all together:

* Start at the end. Understand the customer’s needs and expectations, and be sure the product meets the needed life expectancy.
* Design for the most extreme environment. For example, how cold will it be, will it be washed, and in what kind of repetitive functions will the garment be used?
* Keep it simple. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should.

Despina Papadopoulos from Studio 5050 inspired participants to think about the idea of “social fabric”: bringing together the physical and virtual body with a social network.

Diana Eng Visits MIT Media Lab

Diana Eng, who you might remember as Project Runway's premiere nerd designer, took a look at MIT's Media Lab and found some pretty cool stuff, including Scratch, the LilyPad, Teardrop-run wallpaper. Check it out:

Monday, November 2, 2009

From the Daily Pennsylvanian

Professor makes clothes light up

The idea of stitching circuitry into clothing may seem like a concept gleaned from the pages of a science-fiction novel set centuries into the future.

However, Yasmin Kafai of the Graduate School of Education — along with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab and Indiana University — intends to do just that in an effort to cultivate interest in programming among youth.

The team received an $800,000 grant, titled “Computational Textiles as Materials for Creativity,” from the National Science Foundation in August to help its members realize this objective.

Kafai, the lead project investigator, explained that computational textiles, also known as “electronic” textiles, are soft materials with electronics — like sensors and light dials — and computer programs embedded in them.

“Nowadays, you have conductive thread that looks exactly like regular thread. You can actually stitch your circuits and combine the sensors with the light as embroidery,” she elaborated, adding that the process of fitting textiles with circuitry comprised the “engineering” element of the project.

The “computation” element lies in utilizing the LilyPad Arduino, an electronic textile construction kit, to hook the sensors and lights in the textiles up to a computer program with a USB cable. Once the programming is complete, it can then be determined how these textile components will interact with the environment.

“You can essentially illuminate the display on your clothes or on your bags, wherever you have it,” Kafai said. “You can put the electronics anywhere and use the conductive thread to create circuits and decorations — that’s the ‘creative’ part.”

Once the team receives clearance from the City of Philadelphia to work with students, it will hold after-school workshops at William H. Hunter Elementary School, the Penn Alexander School and the Science Leadership Academy.

During workshop sessions, students will design computational textile creations to share and discuss through Scratch, a web site Kafai designed while working at MIT. The site enables users to design programs and upload them to share with others, who will then provide feedback.

Kafai added that, as the project progresses, she hopes to work with teachers on integrating programming activities into their regular daytime curriculum as well.

The project coincides with Congress’s recent passage of resolution H. RES. 558, which urged “educators and policymakers to improve computer science learning at all educational levels, and to motivate increased participation in computer science,” according to a statement issued by the Association for Computing Machinery.

This national focus on expanding computer science education is likewise reflected in the NSF’s “Broadening Participation in Computing” initiative.

According to Kafai, the number of women and minorities interested in pursuing computer science degrees and careers has been consistently low over the last 10 years.

“That’s why there's a need to come up with innovative ways, particularly for youth, to demonstrate that programming isn’t just sitting in front of a computer screen in your room,” she said, “but has applications that connect you with the real world and your particular interests.”

Iterations of The Cocktail Dress

This is in interesting look at the iterative process of research, development and testing taken from a blog site entitled UPLOADING: Elizabeth's Adventures in ITP. Below are excerpts from her blog.

This week’s assignment was to create a piece that monitors the body and logs the information. I need one inward focused sensor and one outward focused sensor. By this, I mean that there must be one sensor that is taking in readings from the body (heart rate, temperature, posture, sweat) and another sensor that is taking readings from the environment (brightness, location, pictures, surrounding sounds) This could be logged with a cellphone, computer, or specially devoted logging device.

The good news: the dress works. At least, the dress works in terms of taking in data, broadcasting it to the computer, and writing it to a data file. The problem is, while the measurements are accurate, they do not not accomplish the exact task I set for them.

The first version of the above Cocktail Dress and full post with coding can be read about at:

The cocktail dress as worn for the the readings. The accelerometer is tucked in the hair with the wires coming out in what looks like a loose strand of hair and running to the chest where the rest of the electronics are housed. Measurements as followed: nodding (x-axis, 400-460/down-up), shaking head (y-axis, 570-500/right-left)

For more on the Cocktail Dress Version 2, read the full blog at:

Version 3: The Twitter headpiece—version 3 of the original Cocktail Dress with electronics now combined into one small piece.

Back side to Flitter, revealing components: lilypad arduino, accelerometer, ultrasonic range sensor, bluetooth, batteries, and switch.
Read the full blog on Version 3 at:

Data was collected using the device, however radio interference (always an invisible force at events) at the ITP 30th anniversary at IAC. For full blog see:

Sound Reactive Garment

The nightgown reacts to high voice levels and was made as a result of the 56 day performance. The nightgown illustrates increased sensitivity within the relationship.

The gown was made with the Lilypad Arduino, flexinol, microphone, and 2 relay switches.

Korean Computing Technology Show 2009

The Next Generation Computing Technology Show 2009 presented state-of-art Korean IT Technology under the theme "IT RE*connect." Featured technologies of human computing, cloud computing, and green computing demonstrated a fantastic performance with harmony among humanity, technology, and nature. This will provide a new message for future generations.

For full story go to:

LilyPad Layout

Drag components to explore potential circuit layout for the LilyPad Arduino (and related components). Make connections between components by clicking on a hole in a circuit board and dragging to a hole in another board.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

LilyPad w/servo motor

So it's not a wearable, but in seeking how servo motors functions, puppets popped up, which could be a wearable. So with that in mind, take a peak at what this LilyPad design looks like and could function as.