E-Textiles Galore

Check out some coverage of past e-textile meetups as well as an update on upcoming wearable technology events!

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Today we have a guest post from our favorite e-textile master Lynne Bruning:

It's been quiet on the e-textile frontier as everyone gets ready for SxSW Interactive, the International Symposium of Wearable Computing and Maker Faire. But rest assured there is a constant hum of Xbees, LilyPads, FabricKits and Sparkles.

On February 3rd, a serendipitous event occurred at Los Angeles CRASHspace. Anouk Wipprecht was visiting from Holland to complete the finishing touches for Fergie’s Super Bowl costume, Syuzi Pachykham was coaxed away from the rigors of the FashioningTech blog and I walked away from my sewing to present an e-textile lecture, give away conductive thread, and share projects. We even had a surprise visit from Isa Gordon, curator of the Siggraph Cyber Fashion Shows. I can honestly say it was an evening of standing room only uStream breaking stupendous! Yes LA, I’ll be back in June to teach a class!

If you are among the lucky ones attending SxSW March 18th and 19th, go say Hello to Syuzi and see her Fashioning Tech exhibit located at booths A12-A14. Syuzi has curated a cutting edge collection of “fashionable garments that seamlessly integrate technology with craft to create a new modern aesthetic.”

Lastly, the 2011 Maker Faire Bay Area E-Textile and Wearable Computing Showcase is a GO! Start thinking about your project, begin your designs, create create create and submit your application to me before midnight May 11th. This year, its gonna be the best! Hope to see you out there!

Comments 25 comments

  • Draxssab / about 13 years ago / 2

    The laser suit:
    - To burn the eyes of everyone around
    - To play with hundreds of cats at the same time

    • You'd be surprised how little kids and cats are not dissimilar when it comes to chasing and pouncing on lasers :o

  • Ryan6 / about 13 years ago / 1

    Don't read me wrong, its not the e-textiles I don't like. Its the people pushing them. No, I can't really say that because I don't know the people behind them. I just don't like the method of how they go about it and the weak mission statements being made. And I disagree, The little box does way more than entertainment, and it started off with a real purpose and then became something more fun. Not the other way around. Early computers were not just blinky boxes, they were built out of a deeper need for something, like lets decode the enemies messages and then evolved to the point you take them for granted. Do you really think the engineers at the early semicon companies were looking to build an blinky box just to be "cool"? pssh! But yeah, they led to atari and nintendo didn't they? And yes, while you are at it, Stay off my damn lawn! early 30's is so old!

    • Actually, I'm impressed. You responded to my assholiness with class.
      Another reason we make stuff, no doubt, is to kill one another more efficiently... or for defense, if you prefer. And my point above is that the 'fun stuff' gets done after the necessary stuff is well in hand, usually.
      My take is still that the technology, regardless of why it was developed, is fair game for any application- the tech exploits some physical principle that is agnostic to how it is used. A fair number of Edison's inventions were, from the get-go, aimed at entertainment. I guess I don't agree that fun stuff is not, in fact, a real purpose. Not the only purpose, and not necessarily the most important. But real, and important nonetheless.
      And when you consider how much consumer spending is driven by getting cool and fun stuff, it is not irrational to look to this as a serious pursuit.
      I've never told kids to get off my lawn, and I'm in my mid 40's. I've told my grown-up neighbors to turn down their damned music and to quit letting their dog take a dump on my lawn. So curmudgeonhood can be expressed a variety of ways.

  • HonDon7 / about 13 years ago / 1

    May I paraphrase? "I don't like so it must be worthless." Okay, got it, next please.

  • Ryan6 / about 13 years ago / 1

    I was an earlier doubter of the blinky aspect of the e-textile fans. I still am. I see it as pretty pointless for the common every day clothes to blink, or do much else besides keep me covered. I know when I'm hot, cold, wet, dry etc etc... My central air system knows too. Now if I had heart issue, high blood sugar or disease that could be diagnosed (and the simple wrist watch could/has solve/d that). Bring on the e-textiles. But why don't you blikey kids take step back or two and think about what you need first. Washable / dryable electronics. You seem more focused on the fashion part (hey look at me, my shirt shows when im aroused! aren't I cool?) than on the engineering part (and velcro attachment stuff is lame!). Thats what bugs me about the idea. You just want to be known for having something to do with the field in the future rather than really solving any of the major issues. And as far as that goes NASA has your asses beat by about 50 years. Outside of the raves and clubs this is useless junk. However, we'll be seeing it in the kids section of wally-world next to the blinky shoes soon I'm sure.

    • Nonsense. None of us get to decide what is significant- it is usually a retrospective coronation that all the tech geeks claim they saw coming.
      These clothes are specifically not ordinary. Need has nothing to do with much, anyway. Think about how much electronic stuff is directed toward entertainment- why, we don't need little boxes to make pleasant sounds for us! And this stuff, to some of us, is quite entertaining. It isn't frivolous. It is what people do once they get the basics like food and shelter taken care of.
      Useless junk, indeed. Pointless? Like, say, colored cloth, when we could all have nice grey uniforms provided for us? That sort of comment reminds me of the lemon-sucking sourpuss old guy I grew up next door to- always yelling about how stupid modern music was and how the space shuttle launches were causing bad weather, and to get off his damned lawn. No one needs permission to try things like this. Who knows what it will be? If you could predict what would be important, I suspect you would be making serious jack on Wall Street rather than raining on parades.

  • Brain21 / about 13 years ago / 1

    It's just starting out. When PC's first came out, they weren't much more than 8 blinking lights. Now we can start flame wars with them! I think it lets people in the fashion industry get a little more creative. It opens up a whole new world! Today it's just blinking LED's and laser-eye-surgery tops, but some day it will be mush more. These initial projects will spark more creativity in designers everywhere. It's not just skimpy catwalk dresses. It's being able to play guitar or drums on your shirt. Having your jacket tell other how you're feeling and if you have a fever or feeing cold. Maybe you'll get more interaction with the opposite sex is they more just by looking at your tuc or belt. I don't know. It's new. Let it grow a bit. Ok, I've run out of things to say and my drugs (yes medical) are wearing out.

    • Lynne / about 13 years ago / 1

      I like the way you think!
      Yes, currently eTextiles is just a whisper of a breeze teasing at skirt hem. However, very soon it will be embedded in every piece of fabric that grazes your skin. #getreadyforit

  • I love this stuff. I am more or less a dinosaur, and wouldn't know which end of a sewing machine to blow into, but it's an interesting use of electronics.
    Bling is very, very important. Throughout history it has signaled all sorts of things, and still does. These experiments so far don't have a context like crowns or epaulets or vestments, so the way to interpret the signal is not immediately obvious, if it exists at all. But they may point to the signaling behavior of the future.
    This sort of thing reminds me that technology is, from beginning to end, a human thing.

  • Lynne / about 13 years ago * / 1

    For more information on the SxSW exhibit you can download the Fashionware Booklet

  • Heffo / about 13 years ago / 1

    I wonder if airlines will give you a discount on your airfare if you wear one of those bandeau belts. Using your own flotation device instead of theirs.. saves money ;P

    • Lynne / about 13 years ago / 1

      thats a great project idea for Maker Faire. Will you bring it?

  • matt pinner / about 13 years ago / 1

    Lynne, Life after your visit hasn't been the same. I've been in a sewing storm. I'll teach some crafts at the CRASHSpace tomorrow, and everyone is begging for the eTextile tie ins left and right. I use to be alone in pushing the conductives into my local crafting circles. Now, thanks to you, I have many friends inspiring me to push it further. Thanks for sharing the love of eTextiles with so many. We cannot wait for June.
    much love;)

  • JohnM. / about 13 years ago / 1

    Well, maybe I'm just a dinosaur or something, but I just don't "get" the whole eTextile thing. I've been involved with electronics for a lot of years and this application is among the more (most?) lame that I can recall, IMHO!

    • neurdy / about 13 years ago / 1

      e-Textiles represent a collaboration of art and technology, an incredibly important crossroads to explore. Obviously we are biased over here but anytime you can introduce electronics to a new group, we get a little excited. There is a hefty female presence in the textile world and adding electronics to this community fosters the breakdown of a long-standing gender gap. The 'blink and bling' is just the tip of the iceberg and I'm quite excited to see what this juxtaposition of code and cloth stirs up...

      • Lynne / about 13 years ago / 1

        The most exciting place to be is at an intersection, yes?

    • ThemePark / about 13 years ago / 1

      I completely agree with you, John, and I don't exactly qualify for being a dinosaur. The idea of textiles and electronics is fine, but this is just pointless, to use it for showoff. Yay, I have a dress that has blinking lights. Make e-textiles that have a purpose and a function, not just some random bling bling, thank you.

      • I would have to agree with Lynne on this one. What we are seeing here is the creation of a whole new set of tools for tinkers out there. The applications are as unique and interesting as the individuals creating them. LEDs on T-shirts are the "Hello World" of eTextiles, but if you watch the whole video and listen to the descriptions, there are sensors and processing involved too. Some of these are performing functions. I am sure we are going to see more even functional applications emerging as more people get involved.

      • tiagofumo / about 13 years ago * / 1

        anything with clothing would not look so cool like the common electronics project that we see around here... it's just you being a man and do not care about clothing at all... and this kind of "girls" things...
        for example, one of the recent videos from make magazine had the title "basic blacksmithing" or something like that... then you get like "omg, nice"... so when you play the video you see that 'craft opening' at the beginning and than... facepalm lol... the video is about making a paper towel holder lol
        It’s not just eTextile, but anything for the "girl’s world" will be a bit nonsense for us...
        but there are people who like it, so if that's what they like about electronics... it's just fine

      • Lynne / about 13 years ago * / 1

        I agree gentlemen, blink and bling is like flashing a diamond in the desert sun.
        Perhaps you will find these project more stimulating?
        Thumping Threads allows the deaf to 'feel' the music
        or maybe you prefer a sporting theme with
        Pitcher's Elbow.
        Or perhaps this will grab your attention?
        No Contact
        Blink and bling catches the eye and hopefully leads to further exploration. As in a recent case while at 30,000 feet. Can't do that with a soldering iron now can you?

  • Brain21 / about 13 years ago / 1

    Doesn't look like the inflatable life saver saved her in the end?? She didn't come back up!
    Yeah the laser one wouldn't be a good public dress.

  • cjenkins / about 13 years ago / 1

    Please check the CRASHspace link, there is an extra space broken the link http://%20blog.crashspace.org/
    Kind regards

    • cjenkins / about 13 years ago * / 1

      Also the "collection" link is broken, another extra space:
      Emcee, I believe you can do 150 WPM, but too many spaces :P
      Kind regards

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