eTextile Fashion

A glimpse into the world of eTextile fashion by Lynne Bruning!

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This post is brought to you by Lynne Bruning - eTextile guru and host of electronics fashion shows around the globe:

Organizing a fashion show at Maker Faire is like herding cats hyped up on a new strain of geek-nip. The wearable computing fashion designers *want* to share their innovations on the runway. Really, they do. However at the drop of a Lilypad they skitter away to stalk the latest developments in hardware and meet their colleagues in RT.

Fortunately there is always a blinky-bling designer in the audience who is willing to jump on stage to strut their 1,536 LED T-shirt  - thanks Erik! There are also designers that overcome their stage-fright and throw up a hand for geek righteousness!

As much as I might try to corral this insanity of impromptu details, lighting malfunctions, dead batteries and my own stage-ffffffright, I have to take a deep breath and remember - this is Maker Faire! We have come together to share the latest innovations, laugh at our mistakes (especially mine) and support the eTextile and wearable computer community. And without further ado, here are the highlights from the eTextile world at Maker Faire in NYC!

First check out the above video by Angela Sheehan for an overview of the event! There is some pretty amazing stuff in this electronic fashion show. For a full list of participants, check out this website.

Here is a cool project from Amisha Gadani - the Blowfish Dress. Using muffin fans, batteries and an evening gown, Amisha's project activates a boundary when the wearer becomes afraid and clenches her fist.

This Compass Hat by Leigh Honeywell uses a Lilypad, shift registers and LEDs built into a hand-knit hat to allow the wearer to find their way home.

And here is the Thinking Hat by Sean Montgomery! Sean's project uses EEG sensors, amplifiers, microcontrollers, and RGB LEDs encased in a translucent plastic brain cap that visualizes the wearer’s gray matter activity. Honestly - I thought it simply *looked* groovalicious and then I read Sean’s explanation and how-to tutorial and was humbled by his genius. Apparently, I was not the only one taken with this project because The New York Observer produced a video interview with Sean.

Despina Papadopoulos of Studio 5050 was busy talking about Fabrickit, their new hardware of wearable electronic modules. These pre-assembled ‘bricks’ make it easy to construct any project you can envision!

Kate Hartman, creator of the Muttering Hat, wanted to share her latest interactive project but was busy interacting elsewhere. Nudgeables is a set of accessories that enable the wearer to ‘nudge’ a companion from a short distance away. I was seriously disappointed that this project was not on stage as I wanted to use it!  

By now your own grey matter should be in rapid fire mode as you collectively think to yourselves “I would do it this way...”   and   “Imagine if...."  Well it's your lucky day!  If you make it, I’ll put it on the runway. That’s right - you have six magical months of creative craftsmanship and experimentation before the next eTextile and wearable computer fashion show! Hesitation kills, so get to it!

Comments 12 comments

  • brewer / about 14 years ago / 4

    Ryan, these projects largely serve a whim by the designer - that's their itch to scratch. If it does not solve real-world technical problems, who cares?
    The LED shirt may seem like a novelty, but what about successive designs which employ a higher resolution matrix? How about when A designer (not necessarily the one featured here) takes the shirt and pairs it with wearable cameras? Active camouflage anyone? LEDs have their limits, but we've already seen flexible pixel based displays...
    Work on that "filter" before you type - I see in another post you caused a stir also. We are not all alike; the larger the community the more diverse it will be. The community here is precisely what sets Sparkfun apart from the generic part wholesalers.
    If there's something different you want to see more of here, please try to voice that instead. Or better still, publish something you did (or a problem you want to solve). Be positive. Cheers.

  • Ryan6 / about 14 years ago / 3

    Ok, the brain scanner thing is a little cool, as it could have a purpose. But call me old fashion (no pun intended) I hate e-fashion. Its not electronics. Its crafting and has no place in the electronics hobby. I have been waiting a long time to say that, but this post has set me off like a rocket. I hate the word "make", "maker", anything to do with "maker faire" (yes i know its more than just clothing). And granted some people have really cool ideas and arduinos are the easy road in, and I'm sure this drags people into electronics for the "cool factor" that geekdom has become, But its all too much. Its all too easy and takes away from the real electronics hobby. Blinkys and light up shirts are not cool and are only a novelty. How about "making" something useful. Sorry. This to me is like smash lab was to mythbusters, and frankly mythbusters sucks anymore. and don't get me started on Joe grands show.

  • Yeah, I was not expecting to be pulled up on stage at the BAMF, but I wore my LED panels half-shirted and half-exposed while walking the exhibits because I know people like me want to know how things work and love seeing guts there. I got a lot of people inspecting the work behind it and yes most of it was simply "craft" (LED placing & wiring/weaving - dummy work) with the smallest hint of electronics ([de]multiplexing and timing circuitry) but it is FAR from finished ;)
    What showed up this year was a project with a "brain" that only sparkled flashed and displayed flowing rainbows, yeah been there done that. The panels themselves have the proven ability for animation which I'm currently working on making mobile (no more 486 w/ parallel port and windows 95!) My initial concept was going to be a throwback homebrew 6502 circuit - which I still intend to build, but I want more to go alongside this than that will provide.

  • JRMorrisJr / about 14 years ago / 1

    D'oh! 1 too many!

  • JRMorrisJr / about 14 years ago / 1

    A Boundary Dress...
    Airbags for her midsection,
    I can't even get close.

    • caitlinsdad / about 14 years ago / 1

      Be careful, a couple of capacitors gets you a nifty taser dress.

  • caitlinsdad / about 14 years ago / 1

    Ryan, Ryan, you are a lightning rod but anyone as a designer or maker of things can really appreciate your point of view. Thanks, if we did not have detractors or naysayers, there would be no innovation or evolution of things. There is the old school of thought like IBM, put it in a beige or grey box and call it a day. Others say, what about more efficient cooling or ergonomic design. How did high end Apple products start out? Yeah, dumbed down ideas. I'm a regular guy with no access to high tech development labs or facilites. But that doesn't stop me from trying to make a survival suit that self-inflates, has a transponder and relays pertinent data. Best I could come up with is a blinky jacket that kids would love to wear to be seen at night.

  • Tiny / about 14 years ago / 1

    Many of my students will be presenting at the Concept 2 Creation Expo in Adelaide South Australia on 10th and 11th November - many projects inspired by the news stream here - the fashion parade was watched with wonder by the group making wearable electronics. If you want more info I can add it.

  • Tiny / about 14 years ago / 1

    I do understand your opinion but as a teacher of electronics I want all the tools at hand to engage the students into my (our) world. I have over the last 3 years used the Lilypad system, EL wires and many other basic electronics and embedded them into clothing, hats, shoes etc to get them in (especially girls). the comment is they would have never considered a career in electronics and especially not look at it as a possible hobby (only for those geeky people isn't it?) 2 of these girls are now studying electronic engineering at uni.
    Hobby electronics doesn't have to be hard. Once you are in then you can get the absolute joy of solving the hard problem.
    Lastly all great inventions started life as some dumb down crap that someone tinkered with - it just took someone to make that into a must have thing. My students have just competed in the highs schools section of the UAV Outback challenge - their motto is the military can do it, the government can do it but if we get privateers, unis and schools doing it - we will get a cheaper and left field solution. The Uni of North Dakota won the open section (first team to find Joe in 4 years).
    Keep on the weird and wonderful I say - love your work sparkfun.

  • Ryan6 / about 14 years ago / 1

    As i said before, I don't really care about being "filtered" or agreeing with everyone just to feel warm and fuzzy, Just offering my opinion. And I knew that it wouldn't be accepted by all. So who is close minded here? Anyway, my purpose wasn't to flame or troll. I just hate seeing arsenic being used for novelty ideas like blinky clothes that no one is going to wear in the first place. Its like high fashion, it looks neat on a runway, but in the real world? I mean I'm all for a dress that lifts itself (sarcasm), but I don't see a real use for it. Biometrics = Cool as hell, So why not use this technology for that, like keeping track of heart rate or something useful from the start. Do we always need to start out with useless dumbed down crap to draw attention to something that could have a real purpose?

  • Demonlove / about 14 years ago / 1

    It's unfortunate that Ryan's comment has to be the first comment on such an interesting and creative topic. I'd like to add my voice as another engineer that thinks e-fashion is pretty amazing. I consider e-fashion an equal, new and creative form of engineering and I love hearing about new creations and innovations in the e-textile world.
    To my creative e-fashion brothers and sisters, please ignore Ryan's comment.

  • caitlinsdad / about 14 years ago / 1

    Ryan, it seems you may have a chip on your shoulder. I think you have a restricted view of what you consider the real electronics hobby. It is something to do, to experiment, figure out what works, hopefully have fun, possibly profit from it, use it as a thinking exercise with a goal or no point at all. Doesn't everyone start the hobby by putting two wires together? Add a battery, add an LED, a resistor, and so on... Hey, how about I mount the circuit to be wearable, it would be cool to see if I can imitate the actions of a blowfish or an electric eel, what if I can see my heart is beating, I don't think you can see what being creative and innovative is. By the way, GPS, communications, biofeedback wearable gear are fully realized ideas used from spacesuits to combat uniforms. Does that take away from the real electronics hobby? Technology is accessible to all, or it should be. It appears in all forms, flashy to mundane or utilitarian. You can like it or not. It made you think.

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