Tag Archives: Conductive Ink

Connecting a paper notepad to the Internet of Things

This notepad and pencil use conductive ink to control a Think With Google app.

London-based branding agency MultiAdaptor has designed a paper notepad and pencil that employs conductive ink to control an app for Google’s digital marketing business. The goal of the project was to raise awareness of Think With Google in the creative community by inspiring them to engage with the service’s content in unique fashion. And what better way to do this than by plugging a piece of paper into the Internet?


In order to make the notepad, industrial designer Roland Ellis developed a special (and quite possibly the world’s first) conductive bookbinding glue that connects an Arduino-compatible board (which appears to be an ATmega32U4 based MaKey MaKey) to printed pages without having to use cables or any other parts. Conductive ink was screen-printed onto the paper, which is activated using a standard graphite pencil.

“The digital experience is also designed to reflect the Google brand — something simple and helpful, but playful and innovative, too,” the MultiAdaptor crew explains. “The audience is time-poor, so we made it faster to discover what’s relevant to them, by creating a bespoke ‘edit’ of content with a few ticks or clicks.”


To get started, users plug the notepad into their desktop via a provided USB cable, visit the Think With Google website and check off two options from a list of statements using the pencil, such as “increase brand awareness” or “drive sales.” The interface focuses primarily on four different types of content: deck-ready stats, thought-leading articles, Google business tools and inspiring video content. From there, a user selects the platform that they want to leverage, which includes search, video, mobile and display. Content matching their selection is then shown in a dashboard titled My Edit. From there, users can share a link to their edit or virtually ‘rip’ off a page from the pad and create a new one. Aside from that, the dashboard can be accessed independently and the presentation-friendly interface can be employed in an office environments or at an event.


So far, 1,000 notepads have been printed, assembled and in the process of being shipped to agencies throughout the UK and Italy. Intrigued? Head over to the project’s official page, or watch its overview video below.

Creating screen printed, flexible MIDI controllers with Bare Conductive

EJtech has developed an experimental textile that could serve as an interface for sonic interactions.

Esteban de la Torre and Judit Kárpáti, who together make up Budapest art and tech lab EJtech, have made a name for themselves in exploring the intersection between sound and textiles. You may recall one of their earlier works, Chromosonic, a chameleon-like material that could sense its surroundings and change color based on temperature and sound. Now, they resurfaced with their latest concept for an experimental textile that could serve as an interface for sonic interactions.


As its name would suggest, Liquid MIDI is essentially a flexible MIDI controller screen printed onto a piece fabric. The controller is comprised of Bare Conductive Electric Paint on the material, which is connected via alligator clips to an Arduino Mega ADK (ATmega2560) that communicates with Max MSP and Ableton Live software. Though, the Arduino could easily be swapped out for a Touch Board (ATmega32U4).

The result is a textile that plays MIDI notes whenever touched. This, of course, allows for a multi-sensory experience where the fabric itself  becomes part of the overall message.


“Our main focus is researching human computer interaction. Plus a bit beyond this, we love investigating the idea of how, while vision distances and separates us from the world surrounding us, the rest of the senses unite us to it, and the repercussions of this integration is a more coherent perception of reality,” the duo tells Bare Conductive. “Man has not always been dominated by vision, but for this piece we had a strong graphical vision, and wanted to build a sort of post-internet object. As counterintuitive as it may seem, the digital is constantly gaining ground in the physical world.”

Interested? Check out EJtech’s project page here, or see it in action below!

This conductive ink can make your clothes smarter

University of Tokyo researchers have created a new ink that can be printed on textiles in a single step.

As the dream of a world with everyone wearing smart clothing continues to become a reality, University of Tokyo researchers have developed a new conductive ink that will enable electronics to be printed on stretchable fabrics.

(Source: Someya Laboratory/University of Tokyo)

(Source: Someya Laboratory/University of Tokyo)

“Current printed electronics, such as transistors, light-emitted diodes, and solar panels, can be printed on plastic or paper substrates, but these substrates tend to be rigid or hard. The use of soft, stretchable material would enable a new generation of wearable devices that fit themselves to the human body,” the team led by Professor Takao Someya explains.

The ink can be easily printed on textiles and patterned in a single step. This is made possible through the combination of fluorine, an organic solvent and silver flakes, which when mixed, maintains its electricity even if stretched to more than three times its original length. As you can imagine, this makes it ideal for smart athletic apparel that monitors things like heart rate and movement.

Using their new ink, the researchers have developed their first prototype — a wristband muscle activity sensor — by printing an elastic conductor on a sportswear material and blending it with an organic transistor amplifier circuit. While it may not replace your fitness tracker just yet, the sensor can measure muscle activity by detecting muscle electrical potentials over an area of 4×4 square centimeters with nine electrodes placed 2 centimeters apart in a 3×3 grid.

Artist creates interactive paintings with Bare Conductive

This Denver-based innovator is bringing art to life with an audible, tactile and visual experience.

Step into any gallery and you can expect to find “Do Not Touch” signs plastered everywhere. What this means is that, in most cases, the piece of art stimulates only one of the five human senses. However, a Denver-based originator has set out to change that by providing viewers with an audible, tactile and visual experience as they glance at the imagery before them.

Thomas “Detour” Evans is not your typical artist, nor has ever aspired to be. In his recent collection dubbed Art and Decibels, the 30-year-old creator has devised a series of interactive, sensor-laden paintings that are specifically meant to be touched in designated spots. By doing so, the image is magically brought to life through sound.


“This collection features the evolution of how I perceive art in the 21th century. With music as the foundation, It’s not enough for me to just use conventional methods; it’s empirical that I bring in other amazing artist of various forms to bring pieces alive,” Detour writes.

Upon first glance, Detour’s pieces appear to be meticulously crafted portraits of popular hip-hop stars, ranging from Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac to Nas and Kendrick Lamar. However, beneath the canvas of each image lies a unique combination of electronics and conductive ink. The artist has employed Bare Conductive’s Electric Paint along with a few Touch Boards (ATmega32U4) to enable each still-life to seamlessly double as an actual MIDI controller.


This gives audience members a dynamic way to interact with the painting and truly connect with the subject matter laid out on the canvas. Unlike countless other forms of wall-mounted art, Detour explains that viewers are now able to become fully immersed, both mentally and physically.

In order to bring this next-gen creations to life, Detour team up with several his close friends and veteran musicians to ensure the proper design of every painting so that they could play music and be manipulated like an instrument. This concept is something Detour has been brainstorming for years.

“In 2009 I became infatuated with figuring out how to connect the viewer with the subject on the canvas… I mulled over the idea of deconstructing and reconstructing a MIDI controller and installing it. Unfortunately the technology and the canvas didn’t mesh well. It wasn’t until I stumbled across the Bare Conductive Kickstarter that I saw some of the potential with the Touch Board. When I got the package and took the Electric Paint and Touch Board to one of my DJ/producer friends, it became the start of a long process to create these interactive paintings,” the artist revealed in his latest interview with Bare Conductive.


The creative process, which he has elaborated upon in a tutorial over on SparkFun, includes wiring the back of the canvas so that the sensors are emerging through the front in various locations. These sensors are connected to a computer and act as triggers in such a way that, when tapped, they emit a sound. Generally, every painting features around a dozen or touch points, each delivering a unique tune. Once the electronics are embedded, Detour paints his masterpiece just as he would any other portrait. Cognizant of where the sensors are located, he envisions how a particular piece needs to be manipulated — whether that’s using the outline of a milk crate as a matrix MIDI soundboard or lines on a t-shirt as a keyboard.

“I use the Touch Board in two different ways – one is the mode that is installed when it’s shipped. These pieces are usually combined with a bunch of other electronics that allows it to be a touch boom box painting with speakers,” Detour explains. “The other way is with the MIDI mode turned on and hooking it up to a computer. This way is the real ground breaker because it allows me to collaborate with friends and to have performance on each piece. It’s setup more like an instrument.”

Pretty sweet, right? Head over to Detour’s official page to learn more, as well as get started on creating a musical masterpiece of your own here.

Bare Conductive’s Touch Board is bringing stories to life

Isn’t reading much more fun when it’s interactive? 

Who remembers the 2008 flick Bedtime Stories starring Adam Sandler? The movie centered around a hotel handyman, whose life changes when the lavish nighttime tales he tells his niece and nephew start to magically come true. And while literally bringing fantasy to life may be impossible, Bare Conductive is helping to enable the next best thing with its Touch Board (ATmega32U4) with a pair of recent exhibits.


First, Dataflags is a narrative series of artwork created by Fabio Lattanzi Antinori that explores the financial troubles of corporations as they head towards bankruptcy, while highlighting the pivotal role data plays in today’s society. The piece, which was originally displayed in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum back in September 2014, was brought to life through Bare Conductive’s incredibly-popular ATmega32U4 MCU Touch Board and some Electric Paint. The printed sensors were concealed by a layer of black ink, and when touched, triggered a selection of financial trading data theatrically sung by an opera performer.


“Dataflags is a series of works I am creating that deal with the notion of failing; they represent fragile corporate flags that celebrate the ups and downs of those corporations that were thought to be invincible but went bankrupt. Lehman Brothers, in this context, made up for a very good candidate, yet there are others which will be explored in the next artworks,” Antinori told Bare Conductive.

In order to program the Touch Board to announce various sets of numbers each time the sensors were touched, a series of voices were prerecorded ahead of time. The code then reassembled each sample in real-time depending on the set of figures that corresponded to the daily history of the company’s share prices.


Similar to a number of other forms of art which require engagement from a participating audience, the ATmega32U4 based board would only trigger sound when a passerby interacted with the exhibit. “One could say that there would be no work at all without the intervention of the public, which is a continuation of the metaphorical aspect of the piece,” Antinori added.The flags themselves were comprised of somerset paper, as it “preserved a sense of heritage to which we all relate.” According to the Maker, it was the perfect material to represent a flag, given that it appears solid and eternal, yet it fragile and ephemeral, especially when it is meant to be touched by hundreds of people.

Next, The Northwood’s Childrens Museum in Wisconsin recently created a storytelling tree capable of reading along with you. The old computers inside the the museum display were retrofitted with an ATmega32U4 based board. In fact, this was a welcomed replacement as one staff member said that the computers “broke constantly and hogged power, keeping us from updating sounds files periodically throughout the year.”


Unlike its embedded predecessor, the Touch Board allowed sound files to be changed in an expedited manner, and was slim enough to nestle neatly into the trunk’s design. And what would a treehouse-like exhibit be without a makeshift walkie talkie comprised of cans strung together? Creatively, a set of headphones were also placed inside the can to make it exciting for participants to listen to the story.


As previously explored on Bits & Pieces and seen inside Atmel Maker Faire booths around the world, Bare Conductive continues to inspire and enable Makers to transform touch into sound in countless ways. We can only imagine what Makers will think of next! Interested in learning more? You can head over to the team’s official page here.

Drawing a MIDI controller with conductive ink

Maker Daniel Sanz has put together this funky MIDI controller that employs conductive ink and a few capacitive sensors to produce sounds. The DIY nature of this design makes the possibilities for musical creation endless!


Sanz is a member Music Technology Group (MTG) at University Pompeu Fabra of Barcelona and devised this project for his Interactive Music Systems Design Course.

The device allows Bare Conductive Electric Paint drawings to be used as MIDI input push buttons. An internal Arduino Uno (ATmega328) and two capacitive sensors enable the unit to determine whether each individual buttons is being pushed or not.

This model allows for custom templates to be created for the MIDI controller itself. This is ideal for children to experiment with, as it is also incredibly inexpensive compared to consumer level MIDI controllers.


Sanz breaks down his machine in his detailed Instructables post, “The push-buttons are connected with conductive ink to the case, where the Arduino and the sensors are.” He goes on, “The case has 20 small metallic sheets, where each of the buttons are connected. The capacitive sensor is managed by an [Atmel based] Arduino, and it charges and discharges every pin continuously to measure its capacity and check if there is a human body touching it.”

You can read more about the Maker’s ATmega328 based design over at Draw It Yourself’s official Instructables page.


Blast your favorite tunes with the Touch Board Boombox

Our friends over at Bare Conductive recently teamed with Jude Pullen of Design Modelling to develop a trendy boombox that perfectly demonstrates the widespread capabilities of their Atmel powered Touch Board.


As displayed inside our Maker Faire Bay Area booth earlier this summer, the Touch Board houses an ATmega32u4 processor clocked at 16 MHZ running at 5V — the same as the Arduino Leonardo. With expertise in the area of creating models for industrial or architectural design, Pullen thought this project would be an ideal way of showcasing his skills.

Jude tells Bare Conductive that he enjoys working with basic, accessible materials, and therefore, this device’s cardboard structure is not out of the ordinary for his work.


“Pretty much anyone can find a cardboard box, and preferably a glue gun and a scalpel. To produce something really great you of course need some imagination and skill,” Pullen explains. With the incorporation of some Electric Paint stenciled onto the boombox and the Touch Board running the show, the Maker was able to get this stylish creation to flood the streets of London with some of his favorite MP3s.


When speaking about the completed boombox project, Jude claims, “The boombox is simple in its formation but stands for something a bit more as it’s using materials in a fresh and unexpected way. I especially like the ‘surface mount speakers’ – which give an amazing sound!”

Evident by the video below, there’s no denying that this DIY project is boom-bastic, very fantastic! For a complete breakdown of the boombox project, you can head over to Bare Conductive’s blog and check out their 1:1 interview with the designer himself.