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 =


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).

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

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]

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

By: Thomas Hall

The objective of my project, The Money Shirt, is to draw attention to the extreme disproportion of wealth across the world. Because of geographic and socioeconomic boundaries, it is difficult to conceptualize the vast disparity in spending power in other nations. The Money Shirt is designed to create a wearable, visual aid that does exactly that. Designed and ordered through Uberprints, the front text reads, “Today alone, I’ve spent more than the monthly minimum wage of:” and is followed by 6 countries in order of the average wage of unskilled laborers, bottommost being Uganda, and topmost being Mexico. Indonesia recently voted to raise its minimum wage to $206 dollars a month, besting Mexico’s $126, so the order will have to be viewed as more of a perception of the countries’ worth, instead of concrete order of incomes. Researching the minimum wages was a challenge in itself, as countries like Haiti fluctuate rapidly, and others like Uganda have such massive inflation rates that one US dollar is almost 3,000 Ugandan shillings. Beside each country is an LED connected to an Arduino Lilypad and a button. With each press of the button, the next LED lights up in order from bottom to top. While it would be impractical to manually activate the LEDs every time the wearer actually met the subsequent minimum wage, the existing design is effective at starting conversation about wealth inequality.

The finished Money Shirt, front.

The finished Money Shirt, front.

After receiving the shirt, I laid out the Arduino Lilypad, button, and LEDs, and drew prospective lines on the interfacing with pencil where the conductive thread would run. My first issue arose when I realized that the interfacing I had bought, which was labeled “non-fusible” was actually very fusible indeed. It was also far too thin not to tear. I bought some thicker material, and it has worked well. Next, I discovered that one of my LEDs was failing to light. I switched LEDs, and still had the same problem. After venting on Twitter and testing two separate “pedals” on the Arduino, I looked closer at my code and discovered that while doing preliminary testing, I had deleted the 6th LEDs “int” setup indicator. Replacing this line of code fixed the issue immediately, and I was able to light all LEDs using alligator clips.

The working circuit. Battery to the right, button at the top.

The working circuit. Battery to the right, button at the top.

The code functions to turn each LED on in sequence, using each numbered press up to 6, then turns them all off on the 7th press. I used the lithium-ion battery included in the Lilypad kit. It provides plenty of power for the 6 LEDs. After successfully testing the LEDs, I hand-sewed them through the interfacing using conductive thread. The Arduino and LEDs are sandwiched between the interfacing and the shirt, so that they do not come in contact with skin. Contact had the possibility of causing a short. When using a sewing machine to stitch the interfacing to the shirt, I made sure to leave a section of the interfacing free so that I may reach in and turn the Arduino on and off, as well as swap out the battery. Overall, the hand-stitching was time consuming, and the conductive thread was prone to tangles and breaks, but I found it effective when secured evenly and tightly to the nodes of the LEDs and Arduino. My previous project had the issue of crossed threads, due to the confined spaces, but my drawn paths ensured that each connection led away from any others.

Almost done

The interfacing about to be sewn into the shirt.

Of all the pieces that we studied this semester, Sindelokë’s blog post, “Of Dogs and Lizards: A Parable of Privilege,” was one of the most relevant to my project. The post states that “Having privilege isn’t something you can usually change, but that’s okay, because it’s not something you should be ashamed of, or feel bad about” (Sindelokë). The Money Shirt isn’t meant to shame the wearer or those around her or him, but instead to bring as much attention as possible to the hardships and differences of groups that we may not typically consider. There is already something ironic about having a shirt custom designed and printed, ordering electronics, and using sewing machinery and a laptop to make a product based on exposing monetary privilege. This irony was not lost on me, but in a way it serves to further accentuate the mission statement of the Money Shirt. The piece “Sweatshops and Cynicism” acknowledges that “clothes can express one’s position of social power, and that ability is one driver behind the desire for new trends” (Pierlott). This drive can be seen in the evolution of athletic wear from performance-based garments to everyday attire, often with predominant logos indicating high price tags. The Money Shirt can hopefully symbolize a similar drive centered around mindfulness of financial independence.

Another article that we reviewed in class, “SXSW Where High-Tech Meets High-Fashion,” asserts that for wearables to succeed, they have to be as much about fashion as about functionality. The driving quote that made me create an aesthetically pleasing shirt states, “if we are going to be making these wearable devices and gadgets and we’re asking people to wear them, they need to look good” (Silverman). While the project is about bringing monetary privilege to light, it is also an experiment in wearable technology, and therefore should, in my opinion, push the boundaries of subtlety while still incorporating technological aspects.


Below is monetary information, as well as sources:


Less Than $1 (


$8.49 (

DR Congo

$65 (


$206 (Last year saw minimum wage gains of 44 percent in Jakarta, leading employers to cut 200,000 jobs) (


$90 (


$126 (After a 2015 increase of 23%) (



Silverman, Lauren. “SXSW Where High-Tech Meets High-Fashion.” Art + Seek. March 13, 2013.

Sindelókë. “Of Dogs and Lizards: A Parable of Privilege.” January 13, 2010.

Pierlott, Matthew F. “Sweatshops and Cynicism.” Fashion – Philosophy for Everyone: Thinking with Style. Ch. 11. 1st ed. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2011.

Dec 072014


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.

Continue reading »

Nov 012014

By: Matt Youngblood

Tinkerbell dress, courtesy

Richard Nicoll and Studio XO set off at London Fashion Week with one of the most recent endeavors in the area of wearable technologies, the Tinkerbell fiber optic dress. They were in partnership with Disney to produce a fashion technology that has connotations associated with the Disney intellectual property Peter Pan or more specifically Tinkerbell. The objective of Richard Nicoll was to display a fashion technology that negated technology and emphasized fashion. This idea was what motivated the wearable technology’s creation aside from the appropriation of Disney mythos. This is a very real concern in the area of fashion technology.

The Forbes article Is This The First Example Of Truly ‘Beautiful’ Wearable Tech? describes a wearble technology dress by Richard Nicoll and Studio XO. The article raises a number of issues by labeling wearable techs as being masculine due the negation of fashion by technology. The example of Richard Nicoll as being defined as something else is central. Implied in this is the idea that the technology impedes upon fashion itself. The term ‘fashion technology’ accurately describes this dilemma by delineating the two. The significance of this perspective of technology as being anti-fashion might itself be a way of arguing against the position of the articles author. The question that is raised from this becomes is the position that technology goes against fashion a sound position?

The article Is This The First Example Of Truly ‘Beautiful’ Wearable Tech? addresses how the consumer fashion industry has an irrevocable relation with and concerning the technology that is used in this industry. Technology itself is an inherently pervasive force in an ever evolving fashion industry as can be gathered from the article. The article denotes or implies a social dimension when referring to the fashion industry for wearable tech. Applied in this is that this occurrence can be observed in society. This is because and would imply that there is fashion that is heavily defined within a social context. A relation arises where fashion and society must always be reconciled with one another. This is not withstanding the relation between fashion and technology. It might also be inferred that the fundamental nature of technology in relation to society and fashion therefore describes why it is that fashion cannot be understood without the dimension of technology. Bradley Quinn addresses this issue in Textile Futures: Fashion, Design, and Technology when he describes that developments in the span of technology have broader implications for society or rather that technology presents us with “significant shifts in the consumer electronics industry” (Quinn 247).

This is important because the article is drawing conclusions in a way as to highlight that fashion is not defined by technology. This places fashion as absent of a tech context. To ignore this tech context and just acknowledge that fashion and technology are mutually independent of one another is to be in error. Some of the problems addressed within the article itself that are arising from a mutually dependent relation instead of a mutually independent relation proves this. For example, the article implies that the current state of the industry surrounding wearables is one that does not represent a diverse spectrum in respect to gender identities. It implies that this is as a result of and as a part of the intrusion of technology. This might mean then that the two forces of fashion and technology actually overlap at times as to be one in the same issue. The reverse could also be true by the logic of the article in that the aesthetic significance of the technology might not be intruding on fashion but fashion intruding on tech. Or, maybe the intrusion is not an intrusion. It could be that this intrusion is aesthetically coinciding with fashion so as to be within the realm of fashion. The article implies that this is not the case and that there is a definitive gap between the two.

One clear reason for the importance that must be placed on the observation that is negated from the article, that a technology perspective is in fact not essential relative to fashion, is it is not possible to accurately portray fashion if it is stripped of its technological context. The article implies that fashion must be seen and judged as irrespective of the technology. It can be asserted though that fashion cannot be correctly judged without a technological context which is critical because of how it describes fashion. The idea that technology is inseparable to fashion is a right one.  Fashion must be understood as relative to the context of tech. To give an example of this, the article very early implies that a relation exists between the effect of technology on fashion and fashion in the context of gender. One cannot ignore this significance. To say that tech in this case is merely an intrusion is to miss something.

The article explicitly states that fashion must not be dictated by technology. In other words, the interrelation between fashion and technology is such that technology must always work for fashion and not against it. This creates somewhat of a dilemma in that it must be that technology perpetuates fashion. There must be room for this conclusion. While technology evasively must remain ambiguous in the face of fashion according to the article, it also undeniably sets the limits to which fashion adheres. It creates a sort of basis for the underlying nature of the fashion industry involving wearable tech. Without it the fashion industry fails to have any bearing at all on anything. In effect, the wearable tech industry is nothing without technology. This is not to say anything of the relation these two subjects share with society as a whole. The relation between fashion and technology is perpetuating of one another, or recursively so, so there is a conspicuous need on the part of the articles author to acknowledge that the reason that it can be said that technology prevents fashion from reaching its full potential is that technology plays a pivotal role in the perpetual evolution of the wearable tech industry. This is due to an encumbrance that technology has on fashion. Quinn acknowledges the ability of the technology pertinent to the fashion industry as not only having a profound effect on the expanding of horizons of the fashion industry, but also affecting society as a whole (Quinn 246). This basically means that fashion has a technological context that cannot be ignored because it can be related to other areas that help define fashion. The rejection of technology in the face of fashion is nonsense.

Another consideration that can be drawn from this line of reasoning is that the article raises the issue that technology forms a practical basis for the fashion industry in terms of its immediate applications such as its materials and processes. This is to say nothing of emerging forms of technology that ultimately help shape fashion. A pervading theme in Quinn’s work is very much aligned to this notion that the fashion industry is grounded in the practical reality determined by technology. It can therefore be further implied or inferred as a result of this that the limitations in the realm of technology play heavily on the limitations of the fashion industry. As Quinn points out, the inclusion of technologies into a specific industry must necessarily demand that this specific industry be dependent on the state of said technology (Quinn 246).
B. Quinn, Textile Futures: Fashion, Design, and Technology (Berg Publishers, Oxford, 2010).

Sep 152014

By Amanda Sparling

Photo by

Festivals. Music Festivals. Art Festivals. Movie Festivals. Technology Festivals. People of all ages and socioeconomic statuses find themselves flocking to festivals across the world which cater to their particular variety of fun. Each festival offers a unique experience defined by a diverse and highly passionate cult-like following. The atmosphere is full of energy, as ranges of people descend upon a single area to come together and celebrate a passion for a fixed period of time. In theory, it sounds electrifying. People from all over the world coming together to rally around a common interest and cause – but with so many individuals converging into a single area security and communication become a very real concern for both the administrators and attendees of the event.

However, in this day and age, a new trend in the festival experience has emerged – Smartbracelets. A wearable, functional bracelet that allows attendees and event coordinators to access the festival and seamlessly communicate in both emergency and social environments. Bracelets are sent to registrants in lieu of traditional tickets and can be read at access points to allow entry into VIP areas, Campgrounds, speciality programs, etc… without the bother of physical passes that can be easily lost of damaged. Bracelets also increasingly serve as a method of payment, as festival goers load cash onto their individual festival “account” and can purchase and participate within the event without having to worry about carrying physical currencies.

An upcoming festival in Belgium, Tomorrowland, is taking festival technology to an extreme – pushing past the merely functional needs of attendees and integrating social elements of the event environment into the bracelet itself. The bracelet, like many others will still serve as an electronic ticket granting entry into the festival. However, once inside the festival it becomes a part of the social experience itself. Users are able to link their facebook account and contact information with their festival account, and when you’ve made a new acquaintance at the event – you simply put the bracelets side by side, select the “heart” icon, and your information is transferred to the other attendee. This allows people to connect past the moment, and potentially arrange meet-ups throughout other days and times at the event – or to build long term friendships without the hassle of a more traditional information exchange. The bracelets pass information using RFID technology and can transmit the data to/from the nearest bracelet.

Additionally, brands have begun getting into the wearable technology trends – giving out bracelets that are branded and track activity to reward certain behaviors. At the 2014 SXSW festival, wearable wristbands measured realtime audience interaction and rewarded people who were dancing at a Pepsi sponsored event. They used realtime information from the lightwave technology to adjust sound levels, lighting and temperature on the fly to manipulate the user’s real-time experience. Another brand quickly getting into the smart bracelet trend is Spotify, which enabled attendees at Tomorrowland to record a soundbite of their favorite songs – and automatically import them into their Spotify playlists to bookmark for future listening or share with friends. As mentioned in Critical Thinking’s Manifesto, Theses on Making in the Digital Age, the makers of this wearable technology are allowing a very futuristic vision of interaction to come to life. Those employing this technology are ‘bending reality’ to the use of which ‘they will’ to be true.

The options for wearable technology converging with live events seem to be endless, but it also begs many a question around privacy and the dangers of real-time bulk data collection. With so many various brands plugging into an API that is quite literally feeding your every action to event coordinators, sponsors and 3rd parties the potential for abuse becomes much more realistic and threatening.

May 082014
Stop Telling Women to Smile by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh.

Stop Telling Women to Smile is the public art project addressing gender based street harassment by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh.


When saying, “I’m not interested,” is no longer a clear enough signal to leave someone alone. 

In our modern society, it is increasingly difficult for many people to communicate in a direct manner without experiencing apprehension or anxiety. These people may not feel comfortable with social interaction, which may cause them issues with being direct or upfront towards others.  This awkwardness can sometimes lead to uncomfortablethreatening,  or even violent situations. For many people, technology can function as a “screen” that allows them to opt out of real-life, face-to-face interactions. When communicating online, users can set statuses on instant messaging systems (“Do Not Disturb”, “Available”, “Away”) to indicate their availability or willingness to chat.  But what happens to them when they do not have a screen to hide behind and they need help communicating their status to others? If there was an easy passive way for people to clearly communicate their receptiveness to outside interaction, it could potentially prevent miscommunication, confrontational situations, and unwanted advances.  Enter the Instant Status Band. Continue reading »

Apr 222014

My project concept was to create a device that would allow people suffering an anxiety attack to alert people around them of their impending attack.  The device checks a wearer’s pulse and alerts those around the person when the pulse increases.  I know this sounds oddly familiar.  If you’ve ever been on a treadmill you know that there are heart rate monitors that will do this for people working out.  My device isn’t much different than a heart rate device.  The difference is the intent of the device.  My device is meant to address issues in the mental health arena.  I’ve lived with people who had anxiety attacks and there is no way to know the person is suffering unless they tell you.  The idea behind my device is to give the person wearing it and the people around them to understand what is happening.

When I started this project I had anxiety.  I am not adept at sewing or coding.  The first thing I had to decide was what I was going to create the device on.  I decided a cuff or bracelet would work, but I decided to use a sleeve.  You can buy sleeves at REI.  I owned workout sleeves.  They are exactly as they sound they are sleeves without shirts.  They fit by using elastic on the openings to grip the skin of the wearer.  The sleeves cost roughly $25.

Once I got the sleeves it was time for me to layout how I wanted the LilyPad and LED lights would be set.  I bought the Sparkfun stickers.  I laid them on my sleeve to configure everything.

LilyPad stickers laid out on a black sleeve

LilyPad sticker with LED lights planned out

I originally bought gum drop looking LED lights, but they didn’t work for what I was doing.  I did want the person wearing the device to alert those around them that they were having a panic attack, but I didn’t want the sleeve to alert everyone in the room.  The gum drop LED lights were to obvious for my project.  I chose to use the LED lights that came with the Protosnap and the one extra LED light that comes with the LilyPad.


Once I configured my components I was ready to paste my parts down on the sleeve.  I used fabric glue to paste the LilyPad and lights down.  I left them on their for a day before I started working again.  I am not a good or confident seamstress.  I realized I needed to sew a ton of components and was looking to create a project that would have very little sewing.  So I hopped in my trusty car and drove to my local Radio Shack.  The very nice man showed me two different Electrically Conductive Paint pens.  I chose the Bare Paint pen

Bare paint conductive pen in case

Bare paint I used to “sew” my components together

Electric Paint Pen with Conductive Ink is a pen applicator full of conductive paint.You can paint on all different surfaces to create a circuit, although you shouldn’t try it on your skin.  The pen ink will conduct electricity. I also bought because once I painted my original circuit I could paint over the original paint to blend into surfaces or add other elements to the circuit.  This pen saved me so much sewing time, although I am grateful for it I don’t think it was the right thing for me.  At the time of this writing I haven’t hooked up my pulse sensor.  Prior to hooking up the sensor I had to pain my circuit.  The first time I did it I made the lines too thin and they broke off immediately.  The second time I used the pen I put my hand in the sleeve and the lines broke again.  I tried to keep the sleeve on my arm and draw the lines, but once again the lines broke.  Finally, I decided that since my sleeve is a prototype I wasn’t going to put my hand in it and I laid down thick lines between the LilyPad and the LED lights.

In class today my paint snapped so I have to start over.  Also, I figured out that my pulse sensor is made as a plug and play for the Arduino UNO – yikes!  Needless to say today was a setback.  I removed all the paint from the sleeve and my instructor, Kim Knight, gave me wire glue to use.  I think it functions the same as the paint, but it may be more durable on bendable fabrics.  I plan to connect my Red, Purple and Black wire tonight and let them dry overnight.

I let the paint dry overnight and I couldn’t get any of my LEDs to light so I set everything together with Alligator clips.  Now, the LEDs work, the pulse sensor lights up now I just need to get the code right and I will be on my way.  This thing will not be beautiful, but I hope it works.

I finally got the code to work… and guess what?  It worked!  AHHHHHHHHH!  There goes my anxiety, but now if I ever need to check it, I have a my own homemade device 🙂

Image of a sleeve with alligator clips attached tio LilyPad and LEDs and pule sensor

Alligator clips attach my project together

Feb 262014

Tech in Motion hosted a fashion show for wearable tech this past week. There were ten companies that presented clothing and accessories as a part of the company’s Social Media Week. Included in the show were a knitted brains sensor that would lights up in different colors depending on your brain activity, an umbrella which lights up with a variety of colors and also in the accessories category geometric 3D printed nails by the New York City based group TheLaserGirls.  The show also included 3D-printed shoes and nail art, as well as coffee-infused fabrics that can absorb odors to keep you smelling fresh. The idea behind the show was that wearable tech is now available for the average consumer.  I count myself as an average consumer and at this point none of the fashions they showed wowed me to the point of wanting to buy, but I’m excited to see what else is out there.

nails umbrella sensor