Last week I went to a wearable computing workshop by Leah Buechley at Mediamatic. I had a great time!
Leah just finished her PhD and is starting at MIT next year. She builds wearable applications using all sorts of materials, ranging from ‘traditional’ sensors, LEDs and circuit boards to vintage 1930’s threads, conductive paint & rubber and color-changing fabric.
During the workshop we worked with Arduino programmable circuit boards. The Arduino can be easily programmed by connecting to a PC/mac via USB. Leah developed the Arduino Lilypad version for easy development of wearable cloth prototypes by novices (hooray! for people like me!). The LilyPad basically is a flatter, washable (!) version of the Arduino which e.g. features holes for conductive thread to facilitate sewing it into clothing. Even middleschool students have successfully used her platform to build their own wearable devices.
It would be great to have our students play with stuff like this. And I want to join in!
A variety of projects and tutorials using the Arduino can be found on YouTube:
-Tabletop visualizing how much you talk
-Mashing physical movement with google earth
-Quick n’ dirty connection of Nintendo Wii Nunchuck w/Arduino to control ‘robot’ movement
-Arduino robots made during a 3 hour University workshop