This wearable beacon may look like any other t-shirt, but is able to detect nearby devices.
As a Masters student at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, Matt Martin was curious about technology and the impact it had on society, particularly wearables. In his exploration of the topic, he decided to wear an embedded shirt around the city of Auckland in search of digital devices. Whenever one was detected, the tee would emit light effects to bring awareness of concealed gadgets in public spaces.
“The result attempts to provoke questions into how we see this technology behaving with people. It is not focused on its literal function, but how it functions at getting a response and direction out of people who see it in action,” the Maker explains.
In order to bring the project he calls Wearable Beacon to life, hundreds of LEDs — 1,056 to be exact — were hand sewn onto the shirt along with the combination of an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560), an Arduino Yún (ATmega32U4) and a Bluetooth module responsible for sensing the devices throughout a surrounding area. Beyond that, it is powered by a pair of LiPo batteries (a 9V and 5V).
Just like the human nervous system, which sends signals to the brain, wearables are capable of working in similar fashion (no pun intended). Cognizant of this, the Wearable Beacon was designed to simulate its own electrical nervous system for the public to see and ultimately spark a reaction.
“I would say most people were curious as to how it was working and would either approach me or discuss among themselves about it,” Martin tells our friends at Adafruit. “Really it was just great to see people look away from their phones for a few seconds, although I am not used to that sort of attention!”
Marshall McLuhan once said, “The wheel is an extension of the foot, the book is an extension of the eye, clothing an extension of the skin, electric circuitry an extension of the central nervous system.” And as Martin’s endeavor demonstrates, wearables can not only work like the nervous system, but can also become a discreet part of the body — hidden to the world around you.