Tag Archives: wearable

This DIY meter will measure your creativity

Transmission is a creativity measurement system comprised of a wristband and a desktop LED display.

Ask any Maker or engineer, and they’ll all tell you the same thing: it’s too easy to get stuck overthinking your ideas and letting your wheels turn without making any progress on the task at hand. It’s crucial for us to get out of our own heads and sketch these concepts as they come. Although this requires plenty of practice, the more things that we jot down, the more we can create, and thus the better we can share our ideas.


Inspired by Craighton Berman’s Pencil Sharpener, SVA’s Products of Design program student Jenna Witzleben has come up with a slick way to measure creativity depending on how much you draw.

Transmission consists of two parts: a wristband that tracks your drawing and a wooden desktop display to monitor your progress. The wearable device accommodates any tool preference, whether that’s a pencil, a Sharpie market or even finger paint.


In terms of hardware, Witzleben employed an Adafruit FLORA (ATmega32U4) and an accelerometer along with a pair of XBee radios — one attached to the FLORA, another to an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) inside the tabletop tracker. The modules wirelessly communicate motion data to the creativity meter, which is embedded with NeoPixels that illuminate a series of bars based on output.


The bracelet is powered by a LiPo battery, while the LED display is driven by a 5V supply to a power jack and another supply to the Uno.

Intrigued? Head over to Witzleben’s page on Instructables, where you will find a detailed step-by-step overview of the page along with its customizable code. You can see it all in action below!

[h/t Adafruit]

Music Gloves keep the beat while keeping your hands warm

You know what’s better than gloves? Musical gloves. 

Created by Maker Zhang Zhan, the aptly named Music Gloves were initially designed as a final project for NYU Shanghai’s Interaction Lab. However, this idea certainly has potential, and if somehow given wireless capabilities, can be particularly useful for those walking through campus in colder climates, shoveling during wintry weather, or hitting the ski slopes. Inspired by his passion for both wearable technology and music, Zhan has created a controller right on the tip of his finger that enables user to access both music playback features and emit beats of their own.


How it works is relatively simple: By touching your left thumb with any of the four left hand fingers, you can select one of four musical soundtracks. Meanwhile, by touching your right thumb with any of the other four right hand fingers, you can play one percussion sound as a beat to the background music being played.


Zhan had sewn some conductive thread into his pair of winter gloves, which were connnected to different pins on an Atmel based Arduino board. This way, when two fingers would touch each other, the particular circuit was activated and a certain sound piece would play on Processing. The serial communication between Arduino and Processing is facilitated by the Firmata library.

Watch them in action below!

Sole Searching is taking the pedestrian experience a step further

Developed by a group of UC-Berkeley students for their Critical Making course, Sole Searching is a shoe that reacts to the invisible space through which we all move.


Powered by an Arduino Micro (ATmega32U4), the next-gen sneaker acts as a wireless detector, picking up the signals that pass through the “hertzian” layer of our environment, while displaying the names of nearby devices.


In what would appear to be something out of a sci-fi flick, the DIY wearable visualizes a multitude of radio waves that surround us, all while keeping us connected to our friends, jobs, and the world at large. The information broadcasted across these waves is typically so undetectable that we often times forget that it even exists in the public domain.

The project — which was recently featured on Hackster.io brings the “invisible” front and center through the use of an LCD screen embedded in the shoe, revealing information specific to that time and place. After all, radio waves are present just about everywhere we go. This ATmega32U4 based concept is a passive yet playful way to interact with the layer of space

Interested? Head on over to the Hackster.io’s step-by-step breakdown and get started on a whole new pedestrian experience.

Striker is a real-time wearable cadence tracker

The Manifold crew has designed an open source hardware platform capable of tracking real-time running cadence.

Dubbed “Striker,” the prototype boasts both an Atmel powered wristwatch as well as an Atmel based footpod.

More specifically, key wristwatch specs include:

  • Sparkfun Pro Micro (ATmega32U4 MCU)
  • 850mAh lithium ion battery
  • Power cell (Lipo Charger/Booster)
  • SPDT mini power switch
  • Monochrome 128×32 SPI OLED graphic display
XBee 2mW PCB Antenna (Series 2)

Key footpod specs?

  • Fio v3 (ATmega32U4 MCU)
  • 110mAh lithium ion battery
Force sensitive resistor
  • Terminal block (2-pin 3.5mm)
  • XBee 2mW PCB antenna (series 2)

“Striker will remain in the lab for now, but hopefully something like this will become more readily available for runners everywhere,” a Manifold rep by the name of Chad explained.

“As far as a custom solution goes, rather than inventing a watch to receive and display the cadence data it would actually make more sense to build an app for an existing watch platform. Then all you need is a footpod capable of detecting foot strikes and sending the data along using a communication protocol that the watch platform can speak like Bluetooth.”

Interested in learning more about Striker? You can scoot on out the project’s official page, along with the relevant code (Arduino + 3D models) and Fritzing breadboard sketches here.


x.pose is a wearable data-driven sculpture

Designers Xuedi Chen and Pedro G. C. Oliveira recently debuted x.pose, a wearable data-driven sculpture that changes opacity to expose a person’s skin as a real-time reflection of outgoing data.

According to Chen, x.pose is both an “exploration and commentary” on the current Internet culture of our generation and the relationship we share with our data.

“We have already ceded control of our digital data emissions, [so] x.pose goes a step further to broadcast the wearer’s data for anyone and everyone to see. A server and mobile app were built to collect Xuedi, the designer’s geolocation data over time to use as the basis for a personalized 3D printed flexible mesh,” Chen explained.

Using an [Atmel based] Arduino and Bluetooth, the app communicates with a layer of reactive displays that reflect the volume of information generated by the wearer.

“These displays are divided up into patches that represent neighborhoods and change in opacity depending on the wearer’s current location. If she is in the NYU neighborhood, that area will be the most active, pulsing, revealing her current location, revealing the fact that her data is being collected and at the same time exposing her skin. As her data emissions are collected, the more transparent and exposed she will become.”

As Chen notes, the foundation behind x.pose is the mobile app and server that automatically collect data from the wearer.

“They are built using Node.js and PhoneGap. The recorded data set is then fed into processing to produce the pattern and exported to Rhino to make the 3D mesh. Lots of experimentation was done at this stage to find the perfect material that would be both flexible and durable,” she added.

“The final step to putting it all together was to provide real-time data transmission through Bluetooth to an Arduino, which controls 20 hand-cut, individually addressable, reactive displays that change in opacity to reveal the wearer’s skin.”

Interested in learning more? You can check out the project’s official page here.

A dress that helps protects your personal space

Maker Kathleen McDermott recently debuted the “Personal Space Dress,” an article of clothing that literally expands a wearer’s personal buffer zone.


The dress is the second in a series of projects dubbed Urban Armor, which consists of playful, Arduino-powered pieces that help women assert control over their personal and public space. In the case of the Personal Space Dress, a pair of proximity sensors and a plastic armature allow the garment’s hemline to expand outward when a fellow individual comes too close to the wearer.


According to McDermott, her Atmel based dress will help the industry explore a broader audience for wearables. In fact, the Maker notes, “I wanted to explore how wearable technology could impact a person’s physical world, and help the wearers augment their personal expression and agency in public space.”

If you’re the type who likes their space, luckily McDermott plans on making instructions and sketches for the Arduino-driven dress available for download at some point in the near future.

The Maker does warn, however, that “while these devices (are for the most part) not actually viable solutions for societal problems… they do provoke conversations, not only about social issues, but about the future of technology in our everyday lives.”


It’s T-shirt time!

Our clothes already say a lot about us, but thanks to the latest breakthroughs in wearable technology, they’re about to say a whole lot more. For decades, a vast majority of us have turned to fashion to express ourselves, particularly with those good ol’ graphic t-shirts. However, these t-shirts can only go so far. Thanks to the introduction of Arduino and Adafruit, both which offer wearable electronic platforms powered by versatile Atmel microcontrollers (MCUs), we’ve seen a transition from off-the-rack apparel to DIY wearable masterpieces that truly showcase one’s individuality.

“Building electronics with your hands is certainly a fun brain exercise, but adding crafting into the mix really stretches your creativity,” Becky Stern, Adafruit’s Director of Wearable Electronics, recently told ReadWrite. Members of the soft electronics community have been able to bring their ideas to life by adapting various Atmel-powered platforms specifically for wearables, including the Arduino Lilypad (ATmega328V) and Adafruit’s FLORA (ATmega32u4).


Today, we’re taking a look at some of the most innovative, embedded t-shirts that added a Maker twist to the everyday garment. Let’s just say… they’re sew awesome!

A shirt that counts your emails…

A Maker by the name of Chris Ball designed a custom-printed shirt that was capable of displaying the number of unread e-mails in your inbox using an Arduino Lilypad MCU (ATmega328V), a couple of LEDs, conductive thread and a Bluetooth dongle which communicated with a nearby Android phone.

A shirt that plays Tetris…

To celebrate the game’s 30th anniversary, Maker Mark Kerger created a Tetris-playing shirt by embedding an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), four AA batteries and 128 LEDs into the garment. Pretty much the only thing this nifty wearable game can’t do is play the Tetris soundtrack.

A shirt that plays Pong…

Speaking of vintage video games, a young Maker by the name of Spencer recently posted an Instructable detailing the creation of a flexible 14 x 15 pixel, Pong-playing t-shirt. The screen consisted of RGB LED strips, while an Arduino Mega (ATmega1280) served as the brains of the game.

A shirt that plays music…

A Maker going by the name “BBrodsky” gave a much more literal meaning to the term ‘walkman.’ The Maker developed an MP3-equipped workout shirt powered by an Arduino LilyPad (MP3) (ATmega328P) and an accelerometer to detect whether or not the wearer is moving, and if so, it would play his or her music. According to its creator, the goal of the system was to promote an active lifestyle for wearers.

A shirt that visualizes sound…


Created by the folks at New York-based design lab CRATED, the Sync shirt is described by its Makers as “an audio responsive VJ Shirt” that visually connects its wearer to the background music in a club. This visual connection is derived from an LED-embedded patch that is inserted into the front of the shirt, which pulses at varying degrees of intensity depending upon what music is playing. Inspired by the emergence of visual DJs that use light and sound in their performances at nightclubs throughout New York City, London and Europe, this eclectic shirt enables partygoers to become active participants in the light shows instead of just passive watchers.

A shirt that folds itself…

In addition to their aforementioned Sync shirt, Makers Maddy Maxey and Mari Kussman of CRATED have also experimented with what they referred to as “textile manipulation.” According to the duo, the Zygomatic is “a tessellating shirt controlled by a computer interface.” Both Maxey and Kussman believe this is just a small segue to modular clothing systems and a different kind of manufacturing.

A shirt that can change the TV channel…

A few years ago, designer Rebecca Albrand introduced an innovative solution for those who always seemed to misplace the TV remote. Utilizing the body as a platform for control and functionality, the t-shirt can control any television set that is able to connect to a universal remote. Using a conductive thread that’s sewn through the fabric itself, this article of clothing uses soft switches to create a circuit board of sorts.

A shirt that can protect your personal space… 

While at a hackathon back in 2011, a DIYer by the name of “Rainycat” designed a temperature sensing t-shirt utilizing an Arduino Lilypad (ATmega328V). The innovative shirt features two cat heads — one green (the color of a cool, calm collected cat), the other red (a hot, angry cat). The LED eyes light up based on temperatures of over and under 27 degrees Celsius. For instance, if the wearer encountered someone speaking loudly to them within close proximity, the heat from their breath would push the sensor Celsius average over this point. Subsequently, the LEDs would turn off the cool, calm green cat head and switch on the red. As the Maker put its, this would be a signal to whomever is causing the angry red cat’s LEDs eyes to light up, to back off “You’re in mah face!”

A shirt that simulates being tackled…

Ever wanted to know what it feels like to be tackled by an NFL linebacker? The Alert Shirt will allow you to just that, all from the comfort of your couch. Connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth, the shirt is embedded with tiny motors replicate just how a football player feels at key moments during a game. Think haptic feedback on a larger scale, and against your body rather than the tip of your finger. As our friends at Adafruit explained, though there have been Makers creating Atmel-powered scarves and t-shirts that can create a vibration sensation for wearers, “this technology is more sophisticated because it is using a lot more data.”

A shirt that sparkles and glows…

The ATmega168-powered Twirkle Disc Shirt reacts to body movements creating unique light and glow effects. As one of the first commercially available, ready-to-wear LED shirts on the market, Adafruit’s Becky Stern and Ladyada had to take a look inside the motion-activated garment.

A shirt that you can program…

London-based interactive clothing company CuteCircuit had teamed up with Scotch whiskey distillers Ballantine’s to create tshirtOS, the world’s first wearable, sharable and programmable t-shirt. As a futuristic approach to the original canvas of personal expression, the digital T-shirt can be personalized and controlled using an iPhone app via wireless connection. Thanks to its built-in camera, microphone, accelerometer and speakers, wearers have the ability to display tweets, share music, take photos and share photos all from their shirt.

A shirt that can show you affection…

Also designed by the co-Founders of CuteCircuit, Francesca Rosella and Ryan Genz, the Hug Shirt is exactly what it sounds like — a shirt that lets people send long distance hugs! The garment is embedded with a number of sensors that feel the strength of the touch, the skin warmth and the heartbeat rate of the sender, while actuators recreate the sensation of touch, warmth and emotion of the hug to the shirt of the distant loved one. As its website explains, the Hug Shirt is a Bluetooth accessory for Java-enabled mobile phones. Hug shirts don’t have any assigned phone number; instead, the data goes directly from the sensors to your mobile phone which then delivers the hug data to your friend’s phone, all seamlessly transmitted via Bluetooth to his or her shirt! “Sending hugs is as easy as sending an SMS and you will be able to send hugs while you are on the move.”

A shirt that rocks out…

Thanks to the folks over at ThinkGeek, simply tap the drums on this interactive shirt with your finger and listen to the tunes play through its embedded speaker. With seven different drum sounds, you’re ready for a personal drum solo on your chest. According to its site, “Once your loop is created, layer additional beats on top to build up a complex rhythm. You can make loops up to 3 minutes long and you’ve got unlimited tracks to play with.”

A shirt that displays messages…

A Maker mom and son recently created an LED matrix shirt that could scroll messages and display simple graphics. Using an Arduino Lilypad (ATmega328) as a controller, a rechargeable LiPo battery, 50 LilyPad LEDs, an FTDI breakout board, a mini USB connector and some conductive thread, the duo completed their mutli-purpose shirt that not only looks good, but can act as a message board and general purpose display. Adding to the fun, the shirt can play four different games controlled by a small joystick!

A shirt hoodie that lets you send discrete messages…

Using an Atmel-based Arduino and an Arduino GSM shield, a pair of New York University students designed what they call the “Smart Hoodie,” a hooded sweatshirt that can respond to various gestures — touching the hood, touching a sleeve and rolling up a sleeve, each of which send a different text message to a pre-programmed contact.

And… now only a few weeks away, World Maker Faire is certainly a place to express yourself with clothing no exception. Here’s just some of our favorite t-shirts from around the grounds last year.

An LED dress that is a tribute to the Hunger Games

Leslie Birch of Adafruit was recently nominated for “Geek of the Year” in Philadelphia and figured she needed an outfit to woo the tech-savvy crowd at the event. So what immediately came to mind? Recreating the show-stopping flaming dress from The Hunger Games, of course.

Just like Katniss Everdeen, Birch’s goal was to wow her fellow geeks at the gala. She got her hands on a used wedding dress and a petticoat and got to work. With 7-meters of NeoPixel 30 strips at her disposal, the Maker fashionista “removed the weatherproof casing and then soldered the strips together with tiny pieces of Adafruit’s new silicone wire.”


In her post, Birch notes that she slid the NeoPixel strips into the long casing on the petticoat, which not only allowed for illumination, but also created the modern day ‘hoop’ feeling which is perfect for a ball gown. Leslie knew that she wanted her dress to be motion-activated just as the one in the film. In order for the dress to react to a spin, the Maker needed a gyrosensor. After soldering up the wires and attaching it to the back of the ATmega32u4 based FLORA with foam adhesive tape.


To complete the outfit, she cut out a set of wings from craft foam and then covered them in a series of glue, chrome acrylic, and poly. They were not as stiff as she desired, but would be fully functional for her fiery outfit. Imagine combining this dress with the Luciferin necklace from last week? Whoever donned these creations would undoubtedly be mistaken for an extra from the next Hunger Games sequel!

Unfortunately, Leslie didn’t win “Geek of the Year,” but this design is still award winning in our minds!

$2.6 billion for wearable (animal) tech

Analysts at IDTechEx recently highlighted the lucrative potential of wearable tech for animals. Example such technology for pets and livestock include ultrasound-delivering treatment patches, electronic saddle optimization for horses, as well as collars capable of tracking, identifying and diagnosing.

“Multi-functionality is a trend as with the human equivalents, both facing the challenge of ‘do more but stay simple to use.’ Increased sophistication of function is the order of the day and now mobile phones can often access the data, replacing costly infrastructure, again mimicking the situation with human equivalents,” an IDTechEx analyst explained.

“[We] forecast that the global market for wearable animal tech will reach $2.6 billion in 2025. IDTechEx [also] predicts that during the next decade expenditure on medical diagnosis devices will increase in value market share from 11% to 23% and medical treatment (such as heating, cooling, ultrasound and drug delivery) will increase from a mere 1% to 13%.”

According to the analyst, a percentage of RFID tagging will ultimately be subsumed by diagnostic devices that look the same, such as newly available stomach boluses, collars and implants.

“[The] legal push is in two directions, from requiring tagging of many forms of livestock in certain jurisdictions for disease control and quality improvement to some seeking to ban sale of ‘inhumane’ dog training collars that administer electric shocks,” the analyst added.

“Cameras on pets are surprisingly popular and a dog’s bark can now be interpreted and radioed to the owner when away. The number of protected fish tagged already runs into millions, tagging racing pigeons is a big business too and even bees are being tagged nowadays.”

Interested in learning more? You can check out the full IDTechEx report on wearable technology for animals here.

Transforming fashion with tech

17-year-old Ella DiGregorio recently introduced a line of “Transforming Beauty” gowns that literally change from long skirts to short with the touch of a button.

As Mari Grigaliunas of MySuburbanLife reports, DiGregorio’s sample dress uses threads that run from the bottom hem to the waist of the garment to shorten the skirt when she pushes the button of an Atmel-based Arduino board hidden in the back of the dress.

Additional designs sketched by the teen arrange the threads in various designs to create completely different looks including a high-low skirt, a layered look and an Angelina Jolie inspired slit that disappears.

“I really like the idea of technology and fashion. There’s so many possibilities.” DiGregorio said.

“I’m kind of use to hiding things in clothing,”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, quite a lot of wearable activity is currently centered around companies like Arduino and Adafruit. Both offer wearable electronic platforms powered by versatile Atmel microcontrollers (MCUs).

“Building electronics with your hands is certainly a fun brain exercise, but adding crafting into the mix really stretches your creativity,” says Becky Stern, Adafruit’s director of wearable electronics.

“Sewing is fun and relaxing, and adorning a plush toy, prom dress, or hat with a circuit of tiny parts can make you feel like you’re some kind of futuristic fashion designer. Playing with sensors and conductive textiles breaks electronics out of their hard shells and makes them more relatable.”

Just like their IoT DIY Maker counterparts, the soft electronics community has adapted various Atmel-powered platforms specifically for wearables, including the Arduino Lilypad (ATmega328V) (developed by MIT Media Lab professor Leah Buechley) and Adafruit’s very own Flora (ATmega32u4), which can be easily daisy chained with various sensors for GPS, motion and light.

Interested in learning more? You can check out our wearables article archives here.