Sep 102011
 

Welcome to Fashioning Circuits, a public Humanities project related to Fashion and Emerging Media.

Photo "electronic led light dress at the museum of science and industry in chicago" by Flickr user David Hilowitz

Photo “electronic led light dress at the museum of science and industry in chicago” by Flickr user David Hilowitz

Fashioning Circuits was launched in September 2011 as part of a series of independent studies in the graduate program in Emerging Media and Communication (EMAC) at the University of Texas, Dallas. The goal of the project is twofold: to explore the ways in which fashion and emerging media intersect and to work with community partners to introduce beginners to making and coding through wearable media. In Fashioning Circuits “fashion” functions not just as a noun to describe cultural trends, but also as a verb, “to fashion,” to indicate the experiential and problem based learning strategies of the project as well as the potential for a diverse range of students to fashion themselves as members of the publics and counterpublics of the future.

This blog is one of the ways in which the work of the project is articulated. The blog content includes

  • Coursework – resources from university courses, both independent study and formal classes.
  • Emerging Media – examples and analysis of blogs, social media, mobile applications, etc. as they pertain to fashion.
  • High Fashion – information and analysis of haute couture and runway iterations of wearable media.
  • History – historical impact of science, technology, and media on fashion.
  • Identity – analysis of the impact of fashion and emerging media on identity, including raced, classed, gendered, differently abled and sexualized bodies.
  • Project News – information about Fashioning Circuits activities and press coverage of the project
  • Representations – representations of fashion in media, including art, media, games, social avatars, etc.
  • Wearables – analysis of developments in wearable media, smart textiles, etc.
  • Workshop – descriptions of wearable media projects and detailed tutorials.

Aside from the blog archive, the editorial team is also active on Twitter. Search for the hashtag #fashioningcircuits to see all of the interesting resources we are finding and sharing.

If you would like to work with us on planning a community event, please contact kim.knight@utdallas.edu  If you would like to volunteer your time at one of our community events, please join our Facebook planning group at http://facebook.com/groups/fashioningcircuits

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Apr 102015
 
Three girls with backs to camera, around a laptop

Getting serious with art & code

On March 31, 2015 we had our first community event of the year and our first ever workshop with Brownies, i.e. Girl Scouts who are in the 2nd and 3rd grade.

Twenty Brownies joined us on campus at UT Dallas for programming that was focused on giving the girls a glimpse of the role of women in computing and on playing with code. We knew that for this age, we should try to move as much as possible away from abstract concepts, so we developed some new activities that we hoped would connect and excite the girls.

Drawing of a man with necktie and mustache, to which the sudent added a crown and ponytail after learning about Ada Lovelace.

One of the activities was to draw a picture of the first programmer. There were a lot of mustaches, but this was our favorite! We suspect some revision happened after we talked about Ada Lovelace.

Activities included drawing pictures of the first programmer, learning about Ada Lovelace, and a rousing game of “spot the programmer” where the students were shown slides with two images and they had to pick the one they thought was a programmer. We finished up by showing some interesting projects that bring together art and programming and then did some very basic activities with the Lilypad Arduino and the blink sketch.

Highlights from the one hour event included:

  • General amazement that there are elevators in college.
  • The student that informed us that hackers are BAD. Clearly she is getting some early web safety training somewhere. This was a great opportunity to break down what “to hack” means and how it can sometimes be used for good (as in our example of Ying Cracker, the Chinese hacker who helps people protect their data).
  • 30-second dance party as we discussed Shakira’s participation in Hour of Code.
  • The student who used the foil wrapper from the candy we handed out as conductive material in her circuit. Very clever!

At the end of the evening, the students took home UT Dallas folders that included handouts to help parents understand what we worked on and further resources in case the girls wanted to build on our very basic introduction.

Included here are the slides we used in keynote (35MB) and .pdf (25MB) form. They are licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license.

Thanks so much to our fantastic Fashioning Circuits volunteers: Lauren, Laura, Lisa, and Patti! Thanks also to the UTD A&H Grad Student Association who provided us with folders left over from their conference!

 

 

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Feb 232015
 

This blog post was written by, and highlights the Fall 2014 final project of, EMAC undergraduate student Justin Ozuna. Follow him on Twitter @TheOzunaVerse. The assignment for which he made the project can be found here.

Pet ownership is a way of life in the United States. According to humanesociety.org, more than 80 million dogs are pets in U.S. households. Eighty million! For perspective, there are an estimated 316 million people living in the United States. Nearly 47 percent of households own at least one dog, and the upward trend doesn’t show any signs of decline in the near future. In fact, pet ownership has nearly tripled since the 1970s.

Where there are numbers, there is a thriving industry. Americans will spend $58 billion on all pets combined this year. Walk into any store and there’s likely to be an aisle (or two) of pet food, snacks, toys and accessories. What you won’t be able to buy in the store, however, is time. After a long day of work and a full schedule of evening activities, Fido is ready for a long walk. The problem is that there’s not always time to take your pet for a stroll in the neighborhood before the sun goes down and the stars fill the sky. Walking your pet at night means you’re at the mercy of overcautious drivers and hyper-focused neighbors to stay safe.

Continue reading »

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Feb 162015
 

This blog post was written by, and highlights the Fall 2014 final project of, EMAC undergraduate student Nilufer Arsala. Follow her on Twitter @NiluferArsala. The assignment for which she made the project can be found here.

Young woman wearing a surgical mask with red lights in the shape of an "X."

EMAC undergrad Nilufer Arsala models her Vaccination Mask

Artist Statement

My final project is mean to be an artistic statement about the most recent anti-vaccination movement. Parents can have many reasons not to vaccinate or to delay vaccinations of their children. Some cite religious reasons and some may be more concerned about the health risks of the vaccines, as opposed to the actual diseases they are meant to protect against. It seems that while the anti vaccination movement had gained some steam, recent  findings about the resurgence of disease and the retraction of a paper linking vaccines to autism by medical journal The Lancet may be slowing the trend down a bit.

This project struck a chord with me because I am a first time mom with a very young son. The first year of his life I too doubted the amount of vaccines and asked the doctor repeatedly how safe they were. I even went as far as to call all of my friends who are doctors and ask their opinions as well.  In my experience there were a couple of things that set my mind at ease in regards to making sure my son received his vaccinations in a timely fashion. The first was that I received vaccines as a child as well and seemed to turn out ok ( I think?) and the second was that these vaccines really can protect him from getting very, very, sick. Of course every parent has the right to choose what is best for their family and this piece is not meant to serve as judgment one way or the other.

The piece itself comes in the shape of a surgical mask. Embedded in the mask are red LED lights that blink in unison and are in the shape of an “X”. The lights paired with the mask are symbolic of trying to stop the transmission of disease.

How to make it!

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Jan 122015
 

By: Jonathan Gonzalez

The Nixie is a wearable quadcopter that can take flight with a simple hand gesture, position itself to take a photo or video of you, and fly back to your wrist. Team Nixie took 1st place in Intel’s Make It Wearable competition with a flying prototype, and will receive $500,000 to continue their endeavor.

Christoph Kohstall, CEO and Founder of Nixie, is an avid rock climber who had long tinkered with drones, but disliked the idea of having to pilot the drone while he was rock climbing. His hands are obviously busy while rock climbing, so controlling the drone became a distraction. He created the Nixie, which is light, wearable and hands-free. The prototype is said to be programmed with a few modes including: “boomerang,” “follow me” and “hover.” “Boomerang” launches the Nixie, which takes a photo or video and immediately returns to you. The “follow me” mode keeps the Nixie close to you as you move, while the “hover” mode leaves the Nixie at a stationary vantage point. Joseph Flaherty at Wired.com states “Expertise in motion-prediction algorithms and sensor fusion will give the wrist-worn whirlybirds an impressive range of functionality.”

Kohstall has a background in rock climbing, so the Nixie was initially envisioned for use in outdoor adventure sports. However, during a video interview with CNBC Kohstall states “Nixie can be the next generation of point and shoot cameras”.

This could change the way we look at photography all together.  Aerial photography is becoming more popular and the Nixie’s self flying features can open the doors to even the most amateur user. The simple user interface can make it accessible to even the most novice tech users, such as children and grandparents. Prices are predicted to be “a bit more than a GoPro”, but no hard prices or dates have been set as of now.

What does Nixie winning Intel’s Make It Wearable contest say about our society? A wearable drone is a fun and cool idea, but the runner up, Open Bionics – Low-Cost Robotic Hand, is focused on helping amputees by giving the gift of a low priced, nearly fully functional robotic limb. We are talking the beginnings of cyborgs! Is technology so mainstream (for lack of a better phrase) that we should focus our efforts, not to mention funding, on something to help us show off our Instagram-worthy adventures? Is getting a better selfie and auto-flying cameras the next big technology we should go after? I’m not so sure. Don’t get me wrong, I am a amateur photographer/filmmaker and love new and exciting gadgets to play with. But, how are innovating self flying drones helping technology and wearables get to the next level? Can we even classify this technology as wearable? I don’t know the answers, but I’m curious to see what comes from all of this.

Sources:

Nixie Website

Intel’s Make It Wearable

Nixie Facebook

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Dec 102014
 

by Christopher G. Lewis

The final results of creative projects often differ greatly from the original concepts. It’s certainly true for my EMAC 6372 final project, the “Carbon Monoxide Sensing Hat.”

noise hoodie

It only required forcing existing tech into a hoodie.

 

 

The first concept I tried to develop focused on noise pollution and frustrated me completely. It was a creative and technical non-starter with only one positive, NO ARDUINO CODING. I stubbornly persisted with it because my fearful dread of code outweighed the logistics of a proper concept I actually felt strongly about.

 

 

 

During the third week of November, still mentally bankrupt over my first idea, I realized the anniversary of the day I started smoking was Wednesday the 19th. Had it really been 20 years since Nov. 19, 1994? How many cigarettes is that? What do my lungs look like? How much money spent?

Let’s see… 1 – 2 packs per day at approximately $5 per pack ($1/pack in 1994, but as much as $10 in recent years) I’ll guess $7.50 per day spent for this calculation (about 1.5 packs/day).

$7.50 x 365 = $2,737.50, $2,737.50 x 20 years =

$54,750

I need to quit, but I’ve tried just about everything with limited to no success. I know cigarettes are bad. It says so right on the pack.

 

For health reasons, I typically only smoke the ones that complicate pregnancy

For health reasons, I typically only smoke the ones that complicate pregnancy

Then inspiration struck. I found my final project concept.

“The Black-Lung Canary CO Sensing Hat”

GasCap on a wire bust of myself I made years ago

GasCap on a wire bust of myself I made years ago

GasCap setting off CO alarm LEDs

GasCap setting off CO alarm LEDs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The name “Black-Lung Canary” references the small birds miners once used to detect deadly gasses underground. The hat functions similarly to the bird, but hats don’t die. Among the thousands of other chemicals in cigarette smoke, carbon monoxide (CO) is a proven killer. It’s the same gas released from a car’s tailpipe.

Parallax, Inc. produces an Arduino compatible gas sensing kit. The board comes with two sensors, the MQ-7 (Carbon Monoxide) and the MQ-4 (Methane).

http://www.parallax.com/product/27983

http://www.parallax.com/product/27983

The gas sensor board functions by heating up the MQ-7 sensor to purge particulates and then runs a sensing cycle. It must be calibrated by adjusting the alarm trip level in conjunction with the sensitivity level. I set both to about .8V, sensitive enough for smoke, but not overly sensitive. That took quite a bit of time as I don’t smoke inside my house and cold temperatures will affect the reading.

gas-cap_13

Using a smartphone as a serial monitor

 

My source of CO for calibrating the sensor. cough.

My source of CO for calibrating the sensor. cough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once I figured out the residue left on my clothing from the cigarettes was tripping the sensor while indoors, I was able to better calibrate the board.

A multi-meter and a tiny screwdriver are needed for calbration

A multi-meter and a tiny screwdriver are needed for calibration.

Programming has been an Achilles’ Heel for me. I won’t say I mastered it, but I confronted it and won (mostly by making changes to existing code). The process still took days to complete.

the sketch code

the sketch code

The MQ-7 sensor requires a large power draw for purging, the steps down the current for sensing. At first, I connected the sensor board to an Arduino Leonardo with a separate power source for each.

Two 9V batteries, separate switches, powering the board and processor individually

Two 9V batteries, separate switches, powering the board and processor individually

This proved too much current for poor Leonardo, which ended its life with a smoky bang as opposed to a whimper. Of course, this happened on the Saturday before Monday’s due date.

rip leo

An emergency trip to Tanner Electronics produced an Arduino UNO. It handles current better than a Leonardo and is configured almost the same way. It required updating the drivers and coding software, but eventually it worked.

I couldn't get an LCD or buzzer to wrk with this configuration.

I couldn’t get an LCD or buzzer to wrk with this configuration.

This time powered by a single 9V, I added an additional LED for the alarm and to draw off a little more juice. With a micro to USB adaptor, this can be powered by a smartphone too.

Design Sketch 2

Design Sketch 2

Design sketch 1

Design sketch 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

gas-cap_29

gas-cap_30

 

I normally wear either a “cadet” cap or “boonie” style hat. Unfortunately, neither of these could comfortably support the electronics.

 

 

This led me to selecting a faux leather “bucket” style hat:

bucket hat_large

Cheap and fake leather appearance, yet flexible and somewhat sturdy

I extended the wire for the 9V battery pack with the intention of it residing on a belt or in a pocket. I also dropped the idea for a LCD screen readout because of weight and complexity. A smartphone can power and read the hat’s serial output just as easily.

This is the app I installed on my Android phone.

This is the app I installed on my Android phone.

I made all electronic components removable so in order to wash the hat. After all, it’ll start stinking quickly from the cigarette smoke.

 

The wires all come with quick connect plugs.

The wires all come with quick connect plugs.

All wire connections are color coded for ease of use.

All wire connections are color coded for ease of use.

The sensor and LEDs in front connect to the controller in the back.

The sensor and LEDs in front connect to the controller in the back.

When the hat detects carbon monoxide, a red LED on the sensor board and a blue LED under the brim light up. The UNO board also prints the text:

 “Alarm. CO detected. CO kills. Stop smoking.”

This will be a constant reminder for smokers looking at their phone.

To watch the video, click here:

CO GasCap – Small

In the future, I would still like to incorporate a LCD for data readout so a smartphone isn’t needed. A smaller, better power supply than a 9V would be nice. Something like a rechargeable LiPo battery in phones would work.

I think more sensors should be integrated to detect other gasses in the smoke beside CO, and the data should be stored and charted. I could have made a wireless connection for the serial monitor, but Bluetooth is out of my price range currently. A buzzer or alarm tone should ring in addition to the LED light alarm as well.

Hopefully, a wearable tech garment like this could potential drop smoking rates even further. We all know it’s a bad habit, but sometimes in takes live-streaming “in-your-face” information to get the point across. If that doesn’t work, all the sudden activity the hat creates once smoke is detected just might. Currently, that activity is only lights and text, but imagine a hat that also beeped, vibrated, logged data for review and even tweeted (there are code sketches for auto Twitter postings). I think it would work better than gum.

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Dec 082014
 

Guardians of the Galaxy: A thrilling tale of adventure, thievery, danger, romance, and incredible heroism in the face of great evil. The original Marvel comic book characters—dating as far back as 1969—have been changed several times over the years. New stories and new timelines have followed the first tales. But one thing has remained the same—except in short-lived alternate timelines, the leader of the Guardians has always been a man.

In today’s most recent iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy—a fantastic film adaptation by Marvel Studios—Peter Quill of Earth, also known as Star Lord, steals a mysterious orb in the far reaches of outer space and thus becomes the main target of a manhunt led by the villain, Ronan the Accuser. To fight Ronan and his team and save the galaxy from his power, Quill bands together a team of misfit space anti-heroes who become known as the “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Guardians of the Galaxy on IMDB

[image via IMDB.com]

Continue reading »

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Dec 082014
 

By Amanda Sparling

A panic attack is a sudden surge of overwhelming anxiety and fear. Your heart pounds and you can’t breathe.

Relaxation techniques such as meditation, controlled breathing, and grounding can reduce anxiety and increase feelings of relaxation and emotional well-being. However, it is not always easy for a victim of a panic attack to be aware of what is physically happening to them at the onset of the attack and therefore they are unable to treat and calm themselves in the moment.

Additionally, panic attacks rarely happen in a controlled or private environment. Being exposed during a panic attack can heighten the overwhelming feelings of anxiety and fear and lead to complications if an attack occurs in an inopportune time such as during work or in a social setting.

Using sensors that measure specific physiological functions such as heart rate, biofeedback teaches an individual who suffers from Panic Attacks or Panic Disorder to recognize the body’s anxiety response and learn how to control them using relaxation and grounding techniques.

This project attempts to address the needs of a person who suffers from frequent panic attacks or panic disorder by allowing them to be aware of their physiological state in order to reduce the symptoms of a panic attack and aid in reducing the duration of a panic attack. Panic attacks are distinguished from other forms of anxiety by their intensity and their sudden, episodic nature. Through the Anxiety Cuff device a victim can take control of an attack and return to normal functionality as quickly as possible.

A person who is using the anxiety cuff will wear the Polar Heart Rate Transmitter which will measure their heart rate every second.

They will put the cuff on their arm, as pictured below, and go about their usual daily activities.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 6.22.47 PM

While an individual’s heart rate remains constant, there will be no change in the device and some light to moderate movement and exercise will have no effect on the device as well. However, as the wearer begins to experience the symptoms of a panic attack their heart rate will begin to dramatically increase.

Once the Heart rate increases to an exceptionally high level, the Arduino triggers the vibe board to apply vibration to the pressure point at the underside of the wearer’s wrist.

This notifies the wearer that they are experiencing the physiological symptoms of a panic attack and allows them to begin integrating relaxation and grounding techniques to halt the attack at it’s onset.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 6.22.26 PM

If the attack is acute, and continues to progress the vibrating motor will continue to apply pressure to the wearer’s wrist while the heart rate is elevated. What this continued pressure will do is to allow the wearer to focus on the vibration and the physical environment – grounding themselves and allowing them to begin the process of re-associating their internal and physical states to help the attack subside.

Once the heart rate had reduced the lilypad vibe board will turn off, and the wearer can resume their normal activites.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 6.22.58 PM

There were some initial design challenges for the Anxiety Cuff. Most notably was the desire for this to be as minimally invasive and as socially acceptable as possible. The concern here was to make something that would be accepted as fashionable, without sacrificing the utility.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 6.21.48 PM

The very problem we are attempting to solve is anxiety, and so I did not want to increase anxiety by building something that would be largely rejected as unfashionable. The project strived to embody many of the idea’s laid out by Luke Russel in TryHards, Fashion Victims and Effortless Cool. By allowing a victim of panic attacks to take control of the situation and self treat themselves as an attack is happening they are able to maintain the façade of being fashionable and effortlessly cool. This social acceptance is key to not increasing the symptoms and severity of anxiety the wearer is experiencing at the onset of a panic attack.

The final project is a bit larger than what I would have hoped for, however by integrating current fashion trends into the device the look and feel aids in it becoming socially acceptable.

Through the creation of this project, I was very aware of each individual component that this project leveraged and the help I received from the maker community to allow it to come to fruition. The HRMI, which was critical to the project was built and cooperatively designed by danjuliodesigns and SparkFun. Additionally, I tapped into a number of open source communities to understand how each component worked and the help and tutorials available from these communities were invaluable to the project.

The Concept Lab Theses on Making in the Digital Age by Michael Dieter and Geert Lovink, outlines this idea quite well. “The maker is always plural. We all know that we never make things alone, however, our experiences are not easily reconciled with current institutional models that rely so heavily on individual achievements.”

The maker community is alive and thriving, and I’m excited to continue to collaborate with others within this community.

Technical Details:

This project is comprised of 5 primary parts.

  • Polar Hear Rate Transmitter (T31 Coded)
  • Polart Heart Rate Monitor Interface (HRMI)
  • Arduino Uno
  • Arduino Lilypad Vibe Board
  • Power Supply (9Volt Battery Adapter built using Sparkfun’s tutorial here)

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 6.28.02 PM

The Code:

This code will take the info from the sensor band (average of 20 of the samples) and report that back in the Arduino’s serial terminal as BPM (beats per minute). If it doesn’t have a connection, or the band does not have a good connection to the skin, it will report a BPM of 0. The code continues to check the heart rate every second, and as the heart rate increases to above the identified threshold the vibe board is triggered and applies vibration to the pressure point at the underside of the wearers wrist.

You can review the full code used at this more detailed tutorial and project overview.

The code used for this project can be found in github.

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Dec 082014
 

My project is a gamer shirt purchased in the boy’s section of a clothing store (since there were none in the girl’s section) in which I was to place an LED matrix that would display feminine images and print the word girl. That was the plan, at least. Then reality hit.I went through a process of researching, purchasing, assembling, and coding several LED matrixes, all with unsatisfactory results.  Finally, I switched to an LED cord on the outside of the shirt, rather than the inside, and I have had to use a 12-volt plug-in to make it work.

In her work, “Fashion and Sexual Identity”, Samantha Brennan states, “heterosexuality is a position that is so unremarkable among heterosexuals that it becomes invisible as a structure”. The same holds true in gamer fashion. Masculinity is the norm and femininity is the other, rendering the feminine invisible. Thus, bright flashing LED seems like a good way to become visible.

The amount of knowledge I have gained from the process is incredible. I began this semester with no experience in sewing, coding, or soldering. Now I feel like I have a beginner’s level skill in all three. I honestly enjoy making and maker culture. There is such a wide variety of ideas out there and so many things that can be done and created. I’m sure that I will continue to develop the skills that I have learned in this class and apply them to future endeavors.  It was the experience of making that taught me the most about maker culture and how to develop wearable technology. I was able to watch videos on soldering and apply those skills quickly. Ultimately, for my actual finished project, the sewing skills proved to be the most valuable, as hand stitching the LED wire into the shirt was required.

2014-12-08 17.26.48 2014-12-08 17.27.24

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Dec 082014
 

In a world that is increasingly being made into capitalist societies operating on digital fronts, it is an increasing sense of anxiety towards the future of performing arts that has motivated me to attempt this project. By embedding technology onto an apparel that we, for the most part, only use when we go outdoors, I seek to redefine its purpose.

Continue reading »

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