Dec 192013
 

Pia Myrvold is a Techno-Fashion Designer who we’ve touched on a few times this semester, and I think creations similar to hers were the inspiration behind my most recent project. Something about fashion and high-tech devices is simply too interesting to resist! Quite soon I am convinced that we will see garments and accessories that can access WiFi, communicate via the internet, and even some with computing capacity. The future of fashion exists exactly as Pia has envisioned it and I simply couldn’t wait, so I built my own tech-fashion.

The idea I came up with was tied into a piece of wearable fashion, but also serves to experiment with a social anomaly.

As our society comes closer and closer to “absolute information awareness”, I’ve noticed that information security is becoming more and more important to our everyday lives. In the news, on the internet, literally everywhere around us people are trying to figure out what they can do to protect information that they see as personal. But what if we were forced to relinquish control over information? What if information was so readily accessible that someone passing you on the street could access it just by simply glancing in your direction?

VuMe – Digital Fashion Display

This is where VuMe comes in.

The project is an arduino based device, built into a wearable hat, that displays tweets for the world to read. Anyone can tweet information to be displayed on it, and when displayed ‘it’ will be on my head.

The only control I have is an ON/OFF switch. Kind of exciting if you ask me…

The details of the device’s design are quite deliberate too:

  • White LEDs on a jet-black hat accentuates the LEDs and ensures that the text being displayed is of central focus
  • LEDs also allow for visibility from far away
  • A hat was chosen specifically because it’s in a central line of sight
  • The fact that it’s a hat also lends to the idea that it cannot easily be viewed while it’s being worn (one must surrender to the thought that what is being displayed could be anything from inappropriate, to playful, or even offensive)

So far the project has turned out amazing, and I’m hoping to add a smartphone app to go along with the design sometime in the future. The physical construction process was probably my favorite, and I’ve been fortunate enough to take a few interesting pieces of knowledge away as well. the largest of these was, ‘don’t think that you’re immune to mistakes’. As I was doing most of my sewing with conductive thread, forums that I came across online mentioned that the thread tends to fray easily. This causes a problem, because if some of the thread frays and touches another electrical components, then short circuits can and will happen. My response was, “I’ll be fine. I’ll just take my time sewing and I’m sure nothing will touch and short out…” Boy was I wrong. Creating a 5 x 8 LAD display by hand is fun, but will most likely end in multiple short circuits. Just because you’re careful, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to avoid it. But a neat trick to try: once you have the circuit properly in place, paint over the threaded parts, and the connectors in order to create a faux-seal. The paint drys, and acts as an insulator! (I used acrylic paint, please be careful to not use something flammable, or else your head might spontaneously burst into flames, consider yourself warned!).

If you’re interested in making something similar to this, check out http://weekendhobbyist.blogspot.com/2011/01/arduino-lilypad-5×8-led-jacket-design.html for an example design sketch.

Enjoy and keep fashioning!