Tag Archives: Action Bands

These movement-responsive wristbands emit real-life superhero sounds


Bam! Pow! Zap! Boom!


If you’ve ever read a comic book, then you’re well aware of the one thing that every superhero has in common: they all have a special power, whether it’s memory manipulation like Professor X, web-spinning and crawling like Spiderman, or x-ray vision like Superman. Unfortunately in print, a reader can’t actually experience the sound effects that coincide with these actions. Instead, they are typically spelt out inside a callout bubble. BAM! POW! ZAP! BOOM! 

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Well, Makers Niki Selken and Annelie Koller thought it would be a fun idea to channel their inner superhero by creating what they call Action Bandswristbands that emit sound and light effects as they move. In other words, these wearable devices bring those callout bubbles to life.

To accomplish this, the Maker duo used an Adafruit FLORA (ATmega32U4), an accelerometer, a piezo, conductive thread, a LiPo battery, some NeoPixels, a headband and laser-cut plexiglass icons. These icons were then attached to a store-bought headband and shaped with a sewing machine to fit the wrist.

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From there, the FLORA and accelerometer were connected with conductive thread. The Makers then loaded the code to produce sounds and light effects depending on X,Y and Z coordinates and acceleration. The sounds were compiled from a library created by MIT, while the LEDs employed the Adafruit NeoPixel Library, of course.

“The hardest part was discovering the X-Y-Z access thresholds for the gestures that trigger the sound. We have three unique gesture sets that trigger three different sounds. Part of the fun is finding those gestures and discovering the sounds we programmed,” Selken explains.

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Want one of your own? Grab your cape and zoom on over to the project’s page, where you can find its detailed instructions, schematics and more.