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.
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.
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!
Logo designer and volunteer, Lauren Shafer. Not pictured: the elusive Lisa Bell
Laura Pasquini and Patti McLetchie model our new Fashioning Circuits t-shirts before the Brownies arrive.
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.
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.
EMAC undergrad Nilufer Arsala models her Vaccination Mask
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.
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.
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.
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.
It is acknowledgeable that throughout human history, people have always recognized and maintained a sense of privacy. Nestled betwixt a plethora of issues facing this realization is the idea that there does not exist a single and precise definition of what exactly privacy constitutes. Dated research (circa 1881) presented an oversimplified yet often quoted idea that privacy was the “right to be let alone” (Craven Jr, 1979). It wasn’t until a few years later that the idea that privacy deserved legal protection began to circulate, spawning mass intellectual debates on the issue. Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis produced a highly influential essay in Harvard Law Review in 1890 that introduced the fundamental principle that “the individual shall have full protection in person and in property… it is our purpose to consider whether the existing law affords a principle which can properly be invoked to protect the privacy of the individual; and, if it does, what the nature and extent of such protection is” (p. 37). In American society, as well as other western cultures, one of the most clear cut and expected notions of privacy involves the ability to control exposure of one’s body (Konvitz, 1966). The author discusses how culturally we are made to believe that being naked is something to be seen as shameful (as passages from the bible give way to this), and we have a right to not be exposed without or consent. While this project doesn’t focus on the distribution of anything pertaining to a violation of someone’s right to maintain privacy of their naked body, it does touch on having a right to not be publicly displayed to others, whether it be in concern to their body, clothing, etc., within certain public or private spheres without their consent. In discussing video voyeurism, Lance Rothenberg said, “The failure of criminal law to recognize a legitimate expectation of privacy in the public space tacitly grants the video voyeur a license to act with impunity, and leaves victims with little or no recourse” (2011, p. 1146). Voyeurism in this case is the action of spying on persons engaged in intimate behavior, such as undressing or other sexual activity considered to be private nature.
The original idea behind the Theme Music Hoodie was to be able to have a quick way to a.) share your favorite music with others and b.) carry your own soundtrack with you wherever you go. The hoodie has an LilyPad MP3 and two speakers sewn into a piece on lining on the inside of the front pocket. Five buttons are located on the left side of the pockets, and each button triggers a different piece of music loaded from a micro SD card.
Music is closely tied with one’s identity, emotions, and culture. It can play a significant role in not only shaping who we are, but also how (we want) others to see us. Many romantic couples have a song they call their own, and most people have a favorite artist or band, even if it changes frequently. People wait in long lines for the doors to happen before a concert. People scream and cry during performances. Religious music has long been a mainstay, with many of the West’s greatest composers wrote songs of worship. Break-up songs and movie soundtracks have a unique ability to draw out the emotions of an audience.
What you wear signifies something to those around you. While Elizabeth Wilson was expressly writing about dreadlocks in “Oppositional Dress”, the sentiment remains the same for any style – it “is an open and deliberate sign of affiliation and both friends and foes recognize it as such” (Wilson, 255). One’s style categorizes him into a specific cultural group of like-minded individuals (Barnard, 20). In this way, fashion goes hand-in-hand with music. Many people connected to a particular music scene already “wear” their music on their sleeves in the form of band/music shirts and clothing, pins, buttons, accessories, and patches. The Theme Music Hoodie follows this kind of DIY aesthetic, complete with a few patches ripped from old t-shirts and some pins I had lying around and the added bonus of pushing the music/fashion idea a little further.
Going to a political rally and have nothing to wear? You might answer this with a “no,” but that doesn’t mean that #VNM clothing line isn’t for you.
More increasingly governments globally are blatantly displaying their power and control over the internet especially in a time of declared “emergency.” January 28, 2011 “the Egyptian government shut down the Internet and short message service (SMS)” as well as sent personal text messages via SMS straight from the Mubarak government (Aday p 7 & 16). After protests from political prisoner’s families, April 25, 2014 the Iranian government sent SMS messages to intimidate them to not participate in protest gatherings. The messages are said to say “by law, participation in any gathering without prior authorization is a crime and the violator will be punished.” Ukraine protesters were subject to the same type of government flex when they received the text message “dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass riot.” These are just few examples of governments utilizing digital metadata against the sovereignty of people. Even in countries without rights, it is still the people’s voice that cries out for decisions for change. “Those countries are worlds away and this could never happen in America,” you say. “We have rights,” you say. “My government has never text me,” you say.
Think about in times of emergency about your phone. How do they have your number for Amber Alerts, weather warnings, etc.?
Exposed facts of our own government’s hand in metadata and surveillance carried out by the NSA confirms that our rights are indeed being infringed, our voices are not being heard, but our metadata is loud, clear and unprotected.
#VNM Voices Not Metadata is a political line of wearable media.
The social and political issue that I intentionally desired to make a statement about has already effected you and I, accountability ignorance. Who represents you? Who is making decisions about your life? When you do feel infringed enough upon to gather, how are you informed of individuals serving committees and voting on laws and policies representing your voice? During the first stages of creative design I envisioned a QR code so that people could interact with the wearer by getting informed on the point of any gathering issue and the specific representative’s public information. Even though you could argue that a QR code could be categorized as “wearable media” I wanted to get more electrifying, literally.
Inspired by an internet finding called “kill phone fabric” I was compelled to make a statement about governments and the use of metadata while ignoring the actual voices of the people. #VNM is a campaign to eventually play out in another step of the brand while adding the QR codes and kill phone fabric pockets in latter steps too. I wanted to design something that I knew I would wear to a rally or assembly. The electric run (in all it’s magicalness) was the first reason I signed up for the course. However, being able to spin my passion of political issues into the project was a joy! I wanted to make a statement, yet keep the fun and awe into the piece. My target audience, but not limited to, are 80s babies and younger voting demographic because ignorance is a plague among our generations.
For the purposes of my #FashioningCircuts final project I morphed an AWESOME project called LED Ampli-Tie by none other than the infamous Wearable Wednesday’s Becky Stern, to whom I owe much appreciation! Adafruit had great ideas for me to frame what I could actually do with great support through the process. The site included all the resources that I needed to successfully create my own Ampli-sleeve. This sleeve serves the purpose of representing the voices and sounds of the people and not of the metadata that is being abused by those entrusted to serve & protect for the general public good.
I choose to work with a jacket from watching documentaries and thinking about what I would wear if I were at an assembly that was outside. I also considered the future weight implications of the phone when utilizing the kill phone fabric. Among all the amazing projects I researched the Ampli-tie overview YouTube video seemed like the best resource to represent the peoples voice through a microphone, programmed Flora main board and 16 Flora Neopixels.
– I applied all the lessons I learned when completing that project.
Inside the sleeve
Explore blogs, YouTube channels, and other resources to get an idea for what you can dream up on your own.
-I was overwhelmed at first going through the workshops because I didn’t grasp coding and what I could create with it. I really appreciated pre-coded projects (and open source) because they allowed me to dream bigger. Again, thank you Becky Stern for all your creations!
Scale it down on proposals.
-I had planned on implementing the kill phone fabric pockets to make the next step statement of your phone no longer acting as surveillance, a tool of intimidation and a source of metadata that governments are exploiting. However, I have not sewn since I was 10 or 11 years old, this is my first time working with wearable media and I’ve never encountered code the way I was immersed in this class. With all this in mind (perhaps you might have similarities too) scale it down a bit.
When looking on a pre-ordered supply list, make sure that ALL components are included.
-I had to up the number of NeoPixels and add the conductive thread ribbon into my cart.
When the going gets tough, the tough call their husband (insert significant person in your life and use their perspective) to help trouble shoot!
updated Flora NeoPixels have ultra-cool technology
-Funny thing. Of course there is a negative and a positive to work with on the RGB smart pixels I ordered. However, I didn’t realize the extreme importance of the arrow on the front too. I was trying to trouble shoot the issue of not having overlapping conductive thread lines therefore I adjusted the led as needed. After two removals of the Flora main board and several strand light tests I realized that the issue was not the connection. I knew I had to start from scratch. It wasn’t until starting from scratch that we realized value of the arrows. They need to go up. I learned the hard way and had to disassemble the whole sleeve and switch to the other side because when you cut conductive thread its left behind microfibers could be the cause of a future short circuit. Before I reassembled I ironed on interface to provide a more stable base for the circuit to be sewn into. Lastly, test, test and test as you go no matter how excited you are to sew!
Glue and sewing will provide more stability
-I found that not sewing down the board left the connections able to wiggle and fray the conductive thread knots. On the final sleeve I sewed it down using regular thread in holes that I was not using in my circuit. It stabilized the shorts I was able to see in the flickering of the NeoPixels.
Multimeter is pronounced [muhl-tim-i-ter]
This was a tool that I could not have done my project without (shout out to my dad!). With this tool I was able to remain confident in my sewing because it measures the electric circuit as voltage, resistance, and current.
Overall, I am ecstatic with my execution on the first step in the first phase of my imagined #VNM line. It represents a stand for voices to be heard for sovereignty rather than the information about the information about the people to steer political decisions.
Not serious. Not yet!
Aday, Sean , Henry Farrell, Marc Lynch, John Sides, and Deen Freelon. “NEW MEDIA AND CONFLICT AFTER THE ARAB SPRING.” United States Institute of Peace, 1 July 2012. Web. 28 Apr. 2012. <http://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/PW80.pdf>.
Early on a Saturday morning, 11 Fashioning Circuits volunteers, ranging from 11 to 50-something years old, trekked down to Southern Methodist University for the Fall installment of the Design Your World conference, for 4th and 5th grade girls. Our volunteers included current and former students, parents, daughters, and friends from neighboring universities.
The event was organized by the Dallas Society of Women Engineers (SWE) in partnership with the SMU chapter of SWE . They invited Fashioning Circuits to lead an all day “Electronic Fashion Camp” workshop for twenty girls. In the morning, the workshop included an opening discussion about Fashion as Communication, an introduction to the concept of physical computing, and a coding workshop and time for geeking out and messing around with the Lilypad Arduino. The afternoon was focused on a take home project – a twinkling headband!
Our youngest volunteer, Audrey, age 11, sharing her skills with her peers
It was a really fun day. The girls who attended that day learned a lot but we also learned a few things. Lessons that we learned include that you can never have too many pairs of scissors and that for future workshops we should not be tempted by the inexpensive sewing needle multipacks – many of the needles had eyes that were so tiny they were very difficult to work with! This was our first workshop for a group this young that included a take home project. Our strategy of gluing down the LilyTwinkle, LEDs, and battery holder in advance worked quite nicely.
According to the Dallas SWE’s writeup of the event, 82% of the kids responded that they would attend a Design Your World event again, and 88% responded that they would recommend the event to others. We hope that our numbers for Fashioning Circuits were even higher.
Lance and other volunteers help the girls during the coding activities.
The day made an impact on our volunteers as well. EMAC senior, Lance King, writes, “When I first got involved, I had no idea Fashioning Circuits would be such an impactful experience. The young girl I was mentoring through this project was so patient and inquisitive! Once we finished working on her head band, I looked her in the eyes and said, ‘The batteries are in now…Do YOU want to turn it on?!’ She nodded her head and as she flipped the switch…her eyes lit up and sparkled brighter than any LED could hope to! It felt SO amazing to be a part of a child’s educational experience in that way. I don’t think she’ll forget it and I know I won’t.”
In a few weeks, the Fashioning Circuits crew is going to lead a workshop on Open Source Fashion at the Girl Scouts College Journey — Teaming for Tomorrow summer camp at UT Dallas. In addition to introducing students to open source and the Lilypad arduino, we will be leading 25 high school students in a take-home project. Each student will get to make and take home a twinkling wrist cuff with four colored LEDs, made from the LilyTwinkle and Lilypad LEDs. Kim Knight just finished making the prototype and will be training the trainers soon. We only have four hours total for the workshop so we’ll cut out all of the fabric and sew the first few seams in advance, but the tutorial below covers the entire process from start to finish.
Because I’m interested in the nature of online commentary, I came up with a project idea that might seem a bit absurd. After constructing this hat at the beginning of the semester and noticing that it was less-than aesthetically pleasing due to bad stitching and a loud, obnoxious print, I wondered how I could use that to my advantage.
What if I took this hat and made it react to anything negative someone said about it? To do this I’m setting up a website where users can look at a photo of my hat (see above) and make value judgments on the attractiveness level of my hat. Users can select one of two options, saying “yes, I like that hat” or “no, it’s ugly.” If the user declared my hat to be unappealing, my hat would react through the power of a post-Britney Justin Timberlake, and begin to play “Cry Me a River.” The idea is that the hat will have an instantaneous reaction to negative commentary, illuminating that what you say or do online can have consequences. (In this case, the consequence is that the hat gets sad/bumps a little JT.)
So far, I have a soundboard that I (with a lot of help!) have soldered to connect to a speaker, which in turn should connect to the Lilypad Arduino that will eventually be loaded with the right code to respond to the very important “Do you like my hat?” question.
From here, I need to get the right code so that the arduino powers the soundboard to play “Cry Me a River,” and once I get that working, I will work on the code to get the arduino to respond to an email account that I will set up. When, on the website, someone condemns my hat as being unattractive, it will trigger an email to be sent to an account that I have set up exclusively for my hat. The code for the arduino will trigger for each new email my inbox gets, and then it will start playing “Cry Me a River.”
I have a bit of a ways to go before I’m finished with this project, but in the words of Galaxy Quest’s Captain Peter Quincy Taggart, “Never give up, never surrender.”