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 »

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!

Continue reading »

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. Continue reading »

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 Continue reading »

Dec 082014
 
Ariana Berdy's circuits project. A felt strawberry cake

Photo by Ariana Berdy

As a busy college student I often forget or don’t have time to eat. Often times I have observed that society in general gets so wrapped up in the things that they are doing or need to get done that they place a minimal importance on eating. This food-comes-second lifestyle is unhealthy. Making a habit of skipping meals can lead to negative consequences such as physical fatigue; mental exhaustion; and , when you finally do eat, overeating and calorie loading (Skipping meals can have negative consequences).

In response to the “food comes second” way of life I have created a project that directly deals with a person’s relationship to their meals. My project idea is to create a “health bar” or “fuel indicator” for a person to wear. This indicator acts as a timer. The timer measures the time from their last meal or snack and counts down to when the wearer’s next meal should be. The health bar then visually represents the drain of energy as time passes between meals. Continue reading »

Dec 082014
 

IMG_0406My project in essence was to make a wearable fashion technology that addressed the issue of gender identity by attempting to break gender roles. I believe the project was successful in doing this and raised a number of issues

Barnard says that fashion is not fashion until it can be placed within the context of a social structure [Barnard 19]. Ultimately, this allows people to attach value to what becomes fashion.

Barnard says that fashion is a means for a cultural group to shape its identity. Furthermore, fashion can function at the level of the individual or the level of society [Barnard 21]. Throughout some of the readings there arises the white male identity. There comes the question of if I am one of these that suffer from the tunnel vision associated with white male privilege. The most important issue this raises is that fashion results in assumptions or generalizations that are attributed to people.

Russell describes a social needIMG_0411 to conform to a group mentality where society is broken down based on social status. It goes on to describe fashion as a means of fulfilling this need. It follows then that fashion must be understood as cultural artifacts [Russell 38]. I think it would not be possible to approach the topic of gender isolated from other issues such as social status. However, the idea of a group mentality or collective is interesting to my wearable. I think it is important to think of ourselves in terms of group psychology. My project addresses this issue as well as the idea of being othered, the antithesis of conforming to a prescribed gender role. Carrying on with this idea, I think it also has the effect of thinking about rejecting gender binarism. It questions the standard of being heterosexual and masculine.

Barnard describes a social need present in people to individualize themselves and set themselves apart from society. Thus, fashion is dependent on the conditions set by society [Barnard 12]. I think that there is no singular logic then that defines cultures and therefore this wearable project could be repeated in the context of a different culture.

This implies that fashion is therefore an inescapable part of any given culture. Fashion is therefore relativized by a given culture so that fashion cannot be understood without this social context [Russell 38]. This was the single most significant factor during the experience of my project. If we take the assumption that I am privileged in the sense of being a white male, this would help describe any anxiety that came about during the project. This is because I perceive that I am committing a taboo and there is a response.

Barnard describes how society seeks to de-individualize people and in response to this people promote the expression of the individual [Barnard 13]. I think that this somehow plays into the group mentality phenomenon that I have described. In this way the anxiety that I have described about the process can be borne out of a fear to individualize myself to an excessive degree.

Barnard would describe it as being tied to the inclusion of an individual into specific societal subgroups and at the same time being individualized [Barnard 12]. This might have something to do with the term ‘cool’ that is used by Russell that relates to a person being easy in both dimensions of people identifying with groups and the individual.

Barnard describes clothing and fashion as the means to which social relations between peoples occur [Barnard 9]. As a consequence of this I think that the social relations that might exist between different peoples or cultures can be applied here. The anxiety I felt towards the project could be borne out of a fear for consequences stemming from breaking gender roles. This reveals something about the social structure to which I am a part of. It begs the question of what the consequences are in the case of this wearable.

Another question that is raised by Barnard is why would there be reluctance by a male in Western societies to wear an item of clothing that is labeled feminine. Barnard adequately describes a fear of being branded as being effeminate or a homosexual [Barnard 25]. I think there is the idea of taboo that might be used to describe this phenomenon. This is of course the essential issue of my wearable project involving the idea of breaking gender roles.

When Entwistle describes the way in which people identify gender as being arbitrary this again goes back to the idea that fashion is a relative term and there is no objective standard on the term [Entwistle 141]. When an individual challenges these gender associations, they are then challenging the culture to which the gender associations are attributed to.

Entwistle describes how self-consciousness in appearance can be caused by not fitting in with prescribed cultural forms which are the cause for preconceptions and limitations in society [Entwistle 150]. A question arises of how my wearable relates to existing preconceptions and if it lies outside of these. I mentioned before the anxiety I felt which I attribute to fear of committing social taboo.

In my project, I seemed to have the self-consciousness about labels, and I think in the process was able to confront my privilege as a white male. I confronted the reality of the actual world and the preconceptions. Identity in the actual world is heavily scrutinized by society. This is to be expected and it can be related to the topic in class of online environments and the absence of these limitations that society has built for itself.

Entwistle says that androgyny in fashion is not to be confused with an absence of gender differentiation but merely tests the boundaries [Entwistle 171]. I would agree with the position that androgyny is in short supply, at least in the culture I live in. I suspect that in this culture there is a significant polarizing effect that in general seeks to clearly define gender. This can be a difficult endeavor as the relativistic nature of gender would imply.

One of my concerns in my project was that it would be considered androgynous. I think ultimately that there is a very fine line that encompasses androgyny. Merely labeling something as a women’s clothing has the potential to push it over that line.

Ultimately, I think fashion is dependent on existing social conditions and these existing conditions are necessary when considering gender in relation to fashion.

 

References:

Barnard, Malcolm. “Etymologies and Definitions of Fashion and Clothing” in Fashion as Communication 8 – 26 (17 pps)

Entwistle, Joanne. “Fashion and Gender” in The Fashioned Body 140 – 180 (41 pps)

Russell, Luke. “Tryhards, Fashion Victims, and Effortless Cool” in Fashion: Philosophy for Everyone 37 – 50 (14 pps)

 

 

Dec 072014
 

Tyranny of the Arbitrary

Hardware

This project aims to recreate a simplistic version of a fitness tracker. Instead of being made for humans, however, this device is designed to be worn by a dog. The garment is a collar made from fabric and garment interfacing. The collar is constructed in such a way that two the two pieces of fabric are sewn along one of the long edges and can open like a book. The LilyPad and accelerometer are sewn to the inside of the “book” and are connected via conductive thread. When worn, the top flap is folded over the electronics, and snaps to the other piece of fabric to provide protection. In order to record the data collected from the accelerometer, a Sparkfun OpenLog with a micro SD card attach to the FTDI connector. Data is stored on the SD card as a text file. At least this is how the hardware setup is supposed to work. There were some problems recording data to the OpenLog. Sparkfun customer support was not able to help me resolve the issue. Sparkfun was kind enough to test another OpenLog and sent it to me. However, I was unable to record data with this hardware as well. As such, the LilyPad was connected to a computer via the USB cable. Data in the serial monitor was copied to a text file.

Continue reading »

Dec 072014
 

musichoodie_completeThe 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.

Continue reading »

Nov 172014
 

By: Carion Jackson

Spoonflower logo

Spoonflower.com

Ever been to a store and saw something that would be great for your house only to find that the design wasn’t available in the color you needed? One couple figured out a solution to this problem and created a community that has people around the world clambering to it like free food, or in this case, free fabric.

Spoonflower is a digital textile printing company founded in 2008 by Stephen and Kim Fraser after Kim was unable to find a specific pattern she needed for curtains for their home. According to the video on Spoonflower’s YouTube channel, Kim approached Stephen and said “It would be really cool if I could design my own fabric for curtains”. Stephen, being supportive of his wife, found a way to make her dreams a reality. They went on to create a service that allows you —the user—to create and print any wallpaper, fabric, or wrapping paper you want. In addition, they pay designers a portion of the profit they make from the designs, which encourages independent designers. All you have to do is upload an image for the pattern you want, choose to center or repeat it, then have it printed.

Fabric printer at Spoonflower

Photo by Julie Schneider via Etsy

There are several great things that can be said about Spoonflower. I commend the Frasers’ ability to create something that puts the power of creation back into the buyer’s hands. With that being said, there are several things that should be reevaluated, such as the company’s Terms of Service. Users are allowed to upload any image and claim ownership simply by clicking the box that says, “I own the rights to this image,” but the actual owner of the content has to go through six steps to prove that copyright infringement has occurred.

Rolls of Spoonflower wrapping paper

Photo by Julie Schneider via Etsy

My issue with this is if Spoonflower puts users through the same six steps it puts designers claiming their designs were stolen, there wouldn’t be an issue of ownership. By accepting the images, selling the images, and paying the user that uploaded the images, Spoonflower takes on the role of “owner” but dodges the responsibility of copyright infringement, leaving the user to take the blame. In short, Spoonflower is in many ways like Craigslist. You create an account and produce and sell content at your own risk.

 

 

Sources:

Arnold, Rebecca. Fashion: A Very Short Introduction Ch. 5 (Ethics)

Creatives at Work

Spoonflower Emerging Designer Grant Pinterest

What is Spoonflower? (YouTube)

Spoonflower website (About)

Behind the Scenes at Spoonflower

Nov 112014
 
Thunderball used the real life "Bell Rocket Belt," a hydrogen peroxide powered jetpack.

Thunderball used the real life “Bell Rocket Belt,” a hydrogen peroxide powered jetpack.

Jetpacks. Not only cool, but also an originally sci-fi concept that actually exists. The word normally invokes visions of adventurous self-propelled flyers, like in the 1965 James Bond feature film Thunderball. “What goes up must come down,” is an applicable cliché. Functional jetpacks average a flight time of about 20 seconds, but what if flight wasn’t the point? If the cliché read, “What goes forward must go forward faster,” how would that affect this wearable device concept?

Enter Jason Kerestes of Arizona State University (ASU) and his 4MM (4 Minute Mile) project. He developed a prototype jetpack that allows the wearer to run faster than normal, potentially covering a mile in four minutes or less.

Kerestes explains his motivation for the 4MM jetpack.

Kerestes explains his motivation for the 4MM jetpack.

 

 Watch the 4MM Jetpack video:

http://researchmatters.asu.edu/videos/jetpack-helps-soldiers-run-faster

 

Kerestes is a graduate student working with ASU’s iProjects, a collaborative program between students and industry. The 4MM jetpack came about when the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) asked for a device to enhance a soldier’s battlefield performance. Battery operated thrusters attach to a military-rucksack frame and use air bursts to propel the runner forward. The prototype pack weighs 11.2 lbs, but allows the wearer to run faster while expending less energy despite the added weight.

4MM Jetpack prototype

4MM Jetpack prototype

The battlefield applications of physical augmentation are obvious. But would a standard infantry soldier use the 4MM jetpack? Probably not, it weighs too much. When wearing their combat gear (full battle rattle), 11.2 lbs is a lot to add on top of a load already averaging 70 lbs and up. In ASU’s video, Kerestes speaks in terms of Navy SEALS or Army soldiers (most likely Special Forces) who need to get in and out of target zones quickly.

A U.S. Army soldier wearing "full battle rattle."

A U.S. Army soldier wearing “full battle rattle.”

 

Of course, the 11.2 lbs applies to a prototype. A production model will undoubtedly weigh less.

 

Off the battlefield, what could be done with a 4MM jetpack? It would surely cause a controversy in the world of athletic competition.

In 2007, Oscar Pistorius was banned from competing against athletes without prosthetics. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) felt his limbs gave the “Blade Runner” an unfair advantage. Pistorius was eventually allowed to compete, but how would jetpacks be viewed? Most likely, the IAAF will exhibit less enthusiasm than the carbon-fiber “Flex-Foot Cheetah” legs Pistorius runs with.

Oscar Pistorius 2011

Oscar Pistorius 2011

On the other hand, devices like jetpacks could draw fans by making sports more “extreme” or allowing new games to evolve. How many Harry Potter fans would like to play “Quidditch” in the air?

4MM 200 meter time trial

4MM 200 meter time trial

Coming down another level, who wouldn’t enjoy feeling fleet of foot from jet propulsion? Commercially, companies could charge people for the experience of feeling like professional athlete.

Is the research investment worth it? Before DARPA asked for a device intended for combat, the 4MM researchers at ASU were working on prosthetics for amputees. Is it nobler to develop a potentially life saving device or a life changing device? DARPA could just as easily asked for better prosthetic limbs. That question may be argued at length and is a personal belief. The fact of the matter is: development will occur where the funding goes.

If the 4MM jetpack is successful, and if it finds life off the battlefield, what will the future of performance enhancing devices bring? With any luck, future wearable devices are even cooler than jetpacks.