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Hacker-in-Residence: Interactive Garments

Matt Pinner is HERE and he is BUILDING STUFF.

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Happy Monday friends – it’s time to welcome a new hacker to our ranks! Say hello to Matt Pinner.

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Hello, Matt Pinner!

Matt is here for three weeks and has already been hard at work in our Engineering department. Let’s learn more about Matt.

Can you share your background, interests, and some favorite past projects? What and where is your current position?

I create environments where people get to play, interact, and ultimately learn.

I’ve been all over the world and got into computers with the dream of working from the top of a mountain. It turns out I enjoy interaction and collaboration too much for that. I’ve been engrossed in several startups because I enjoy working hard as part of a small, passionate teams. My skill in application scalability, performance optimization, and security grew into a love of hardware and distributed systems.

Specializing in wearable computing and mobile devices has allowed me to have really nerdy conversations in traditionally boring places: street corners, nightclubs, and in line at the market. I love Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM), and find it especially rewarding to open people’s minds to the possibilities they can create with even a minimal grasp of technology. I’ve experimented with adding sensors, batteries, and lighting to every part of the body in a effort to understand how calling attention to our parts can affect how we move.

Most recently I’ve been 3D-printing LED buttons for use in my garments. They can be sequenced to express the theme of an event, coordinate with others, or be reactive to their surroundings. Through sensing ambient conditions, other people’s presence, and the emotional state of the wearer, a garment can more gracefully integrate the wearer into their surroundings. Subtlety is the name of the game and I’m continually striving to integrate people with technology, not distract or withdraw them with it.

CrashSpace, a Hackerspace in Los Angeles, has been my home and studio for over 4 years. I made everyone’s favorite soldering unicorn and our mascot, Sparkles. It has been a joy to share her with the world and a valuable tool around the shop. You can build your own Sparkles here!

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Sparkles herself, courtesy of CrashSpace

I made an internet-connected Little Free Library as an experiment in generative art and public interactivity. It is still the most sophisticated we’ve seen. Not only does it look like miniature version of our space, but tracks deposits and withdrawals while lighting momentarily to aid in book selection. On our busy street it has shared tens of thousands of books:

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The CrashLibrary in action

Checkout my interactive fashion accessories and jacket, collection of motion-reactive disco balls and dance performance tools, light-up mechanical flip book, and LED installations.

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The Sparkle Stick

How and why did you get involved in SparkFun’s Hacker-in-Residence program? Why do you think programs like this are valuable?

I’m at SparkFun to build along side the geniuses behind the materials that have been the center of, and inspiration for, many delightful creations. I have a few beginner projects of my own I’d love to see become a kit or breakout board for others to use.

Investing time with SparkFun’s vast offer of sensors on the body will better enable me to design wearables for everyday use that bond people without distracting them. I hope my process and project can provide valuable insight for the Sparklers (can I call them that?) to better support all of us.

Almost every two weeks I’d been hosting a different class/workshop. SparkFun has been an amazing alley for pulling together the materials for my workshops. I continually improve the curriculum and diversify the topics I’m able to explain. Having firsthand knowledge from SparkFun and sharing what I’ve learned from teaching workshops can be instrumental in easing the learning process for others.

What is the project you’ll be working on at SparkFun, and how long will you be here? Why did you choose this project?

I’ll build a jacket over my three-week stay. Into this garment I’ll build a interactive system that will sense the wearer and surrounding environment.

Spaces have a life of their own. We can expose this through realtime data collection and visualization throughout the course of an event by unleashing coordinated mobile nodes (wearables and accessories) within an environment.

I want to use sound as a way to localize people within a space and create a platform for collaborative gaming. I’m analyzing the variety of embeddable microphones and preamps offered for use in the widest range of accessories and environments. I’ll proceed to build a system into this jacket that will react to the environment and wearer while providing data for further development of smaller pieces to coordinate the player.

What is your superpower and snack of choice?

Super? Thank you. Aren’t we all.

My superpower is the ability to sleep; not in the narcoleptic sense, but I have always been a deep sleeper. I oft use a quick nap to prepare for a long night or a long night of sleep to prepare for a busy day.

My other superpower would have to be the ability to break anything. This makes me particularity well suited to deliver a robust system because if it’ll work for me, you cannot break it.

I hope you find your superpower(s) and use it for good.

Snacks!?! Yes please! Do I have to pick just one? I love avocados, spinach, guacamole, Teensies, fruits, and DARK CHOCOLATE!

Thanks Matt, we can’t wait to see how your jacket turns out!

Comments 4 comments

  • Are we having fun yet? YES!

    It is pretty boss having the SparkFun warehouse downstairs.

    Things are coming along nicely:

    • I’ve gathered a lot of data about various audio reactive solutions.
    • The pattern for the jacket is well underway.
    • I’ve mastered the Shake-On-Wake as a way to turn on my jacket without having any annoying power switches.
  • This all seems pretty groovy Matt.

    Have you tried Clap-on, Clap-off control yet?

    What’s the plan for powering everything?

  • SparkFun got Matt Pinner?? I didn’t realize SparkFun was that awesome. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with! It’s guaranteed to be excellent.

  • I love #WIoT Wearable Tech for the Internet Can we collaborate ? see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EM4JjuP2MP8 Gus in Denver

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