This sweatshirt is changing the way you listen to music

Headphones are so last year.

Musical Hoodie is an interactive social experience-based technology that allows users to display their music onto a wearable canvas with LED lights that match the beat.


Designed by Wellesley College seniors Athena Kihara, Sasha Levy and Kelsey Reiman, this project creates a playful interface that spurs engagement between the user and their surrounding audience. According to its creators, the Musical Hoodie is aimed for anyone of all ages who loves listening to music, particularly those who use headphones.

This wearable system was conceived as a way to not only eradicate the stigma of people being anti-social because they’re sporting earphone, but enable users to share their music with others via built-in speakers in their pockets.

“While wearing earphones is perceived as wanting to be alone, in many cases it doesn’t necessarily mean so. Sometimes people just want to listen to their music without the intentions of shutting off the outside world. Even if earphone wearers want to share the music they are listening to, the surrounding people may ignore them,” the Makers write. 

Initially, the students looked to embed earbuds into a hood, therefore eliminating the need to carry a pair, as well as to include a series of lights in both the pocket and along the sleeves. However, after some tinkering, they decided to stick with a simple Hanes sweatshirt and move their lights up around the collar and shoulders. Reason being, “They [would be] more visible [and] create a nice visual design reminiscent of the embellished collar trend.”


Following some prototyping on an Arduino Uno, the Makers turned to an Arduino Lilypad (ATmega328V). With a little coding to enable the LEDs to flash in unison with the beat of the music, the team was well on its way to creating the ultimate social sweatshirt. The Makers sewed lights in horizontal lines based on color to help ensure that the conductive thread wouldn’t cross itself, but that multiple lights could be sewn to one output of the Lilypad.

What’s more, the team decided to add a temperature sensor to one shoulder of the pullover to enhance its interactivity. This way, when someone  touched the sensor, the LEDs would illuminate. “We wanted to invoke the idea of a shoulder pad or brand label that’s often placed on the shoulder, as well as continue with the idea of inviting others to interact with the sweatshirt,” the explained.

While merely a working prototype, the Wellesley College students look to implement a number of new features in its next iteration. These improvements include the ability to play music from a mobile media player, speakers and earphone jacks in the pockets, elbow stretch sensors that will dim or brighten the LEDs, as well as a peer-to-peer interaction between multiple sweatshirts.

Interested in learning more? You can find their project log here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s