Bare Conductive makes window shopping more interesting

Our friends at Bare Conductive are at it again, this time transforming once-ordinary storefronts into touchscreens. UK-based creative agency Knit and jean specialist Hiut Denim Co. are using conductive ink to usher window shopping on the streets of London into today’s digital-savvy world.

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Known for its creative community, Hiut Denim Co. felt that it was “appropriate to ‘tech hack’ a pair of jeans and utilize the latest innovation — conductive ink.” So, in order to tell the story, the denim specialist turned to Bare Conductive’s Electric Paint to create an interface using the storefront of exclusive British retailer Rivet and Hide.

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As Bare Conductive notes, the mastermind behind the design Jack Chalkley utilized an [Atmel based] Arduino, MP3 shields, capacitive sensing pads and Electric Paint to bring the concept to life. The backside of the vinyl stencils were painted with Electric Paint to create sensors — registering a change of capacity when touched. According to Chalkley, the paint made an ideal alternative to transparent capacitive stickers given the project’s timeframe and budget.

The installation enables those walking by to hear about the history of Hiut, as well as stay informed of its latest jean collections, simply by interacting with icons affixed to the outside of the store window. This would appear to be the first-time ever that conductive ink has been used through glass — and certainly as part of a retail installation.

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How it works is relatively simple: The ink senses the change in capacitance as the person touches the window icon, which in turn prompts the circuit to play a corresponding sample using transducer speakers. In addition to audio, light bulbs are programmed to switch on to create an even more compelling visual impact.

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The stylish icons — which represent different parts of the brand’s story — were painted onto the inside of the window using conductive ink, while wires on the inside of the window were linked to a respective product. Various Atmel powered Arduino units were embedded within the pair of jeans, and responsible for controlling the triggers and audio samples.

“In a shop where even the metal hangers are hand made the paint’s aesthetic was also of importance: ‘It matched the materials aspect of both Rivet and Hide with their premium denim and Hiut with their focus on quality craft. The fact we also had a very handmade approach fitted nicely with that,’” Bare Conductive explains.

This Maker-inspired way to convert glass displays into real-time, interactive interfaces will continue to open windows of opportunities… literally. The question is: Where can Bare Conductive be used next? Bus stops, maps, menus… the list just goes on and on!

As previously seen inside our Maker Faire and Embedded World booths, an ATmega32U4 MCU can be found at the core of Bare Conductive’s Touch Board which enables Makers to transform touch into sound in countless ways.

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