Nov 25, 2015

Workshop on Soft Wearables: Re-materializing electronics

Taiwan Textile Research Institute
By: Oscar Tomico, Eindhoven University of Technology
Time: Dec. 7 to 9, 09:00--17:00

Place: Taiwan Textile Research Institute (新北市土城區承天路6號)
Sponsors: Taiwan Tech, Intel-NTU Center, Taiwan Textile Research Institute 

Technical textiles and smart textiles are permeating the healthcare, security and professional domains driven by high performance and functionality. The limitations that are currently being faced is that electronics as we understand them are not meant to be worn. They are not meant to be in a soft surface. They are not meant to be in a body in movement. Connections break when being shaken. Electronic boards can’t be bended continuously. Sensors become noisy as they can’t be recalibrate endlessly. Textiles are light, breathable, foldable and drainable. washable, have imprecise dimensions and damages or flaws have a low impact. Electronics are heavy, solid, hard, non washable, have precise dimensions and damages have a high impact. 

There has been multiple attempts to create textile friendly electronic boards and electronic friendly textiles. Arduino Lillipad developed by Lia Buckley created a round electronic board that can be sewed. Adafruit Flora and Gemma series added Lipo charging capabilities and simplified libraries. Seeed Studio Repine kit allows to break up a mobile phone with connecting flexible parts that can be laminated. Redbear lab introduced mini wifi boards, Automat developed a IoT ecosystem for fashion. Particle does 2,3,4G communication modules. 
Vega Wearable Light developed Vega Edge Processing allows for using C+ coding for programming for dynamic updating of Fritzing is a software that made the construction and programming of electronics easier. 123D circuits allows simulating circuit layout. 

In this workshop we will look at electronics as a material, as a product where material, shape, use will be designed. Electronics won’t be hidden in the textile but integrated into them as any other textile, film or yarn to use. In order to re-materialize electronics there are some steps to be taken: 

Input and output need to be mapped together. As any other materials, the functionality is explored by interacting with it. A direct mapping between input and output allows meaning to be created at a sensory level. 
Communication between input and output should happen at the same sensory channel. Light controls light, sound controls sound, touch controls movement, … 
Electronics should know its own physical state (on the board). Material functionality comes from their physical material properties, which are inherent to the material.
Electronics should allow for digital and physical control loops to happen. Physical interactions as well as digital data should be at the same level, allowing the person to also have a direct control on the material behaviour.

This 3 day workshop will be held at the Workshop Space and Prototyping facilities from TTRI and we will work together with textile designers and engineers from there, design students from Taiwan Tech, and Computer Science /Electric Engineering students Intel-NTU center. This will offer us the unique opportunity to combine skills from industrial design, textile design and engineering, and Electric Engineering to explore the future of smart textiles will be. In order to achieve it, we will work with the newest iteration of the CRISP electronic platform. This platform consists of a set of 5 modules: a sound module with a speaker and a microphone, a movement module with an accelerometer and the possibility to control and power (vibration) motors, a light module with a light sensor and a colour LED, a controller module with bluetooth connectivity and a module for charging. All modules are connected with each other with a flexible substrate in form of a bracelet. The modules can be also used separated. For more information check here:

During three days will work hands on and in an iterative manner, creating a dialogue between the body, textiles and electronics. The first day we will work with the existing modules and with existing textiles to explore in groups future interactions with smart fabrics that change colour, make sound or that vibrate. On the second day we will make new textiles that will enhance the interaction selected. On the third day we will redesign the electronic boards to enhance the materials created. 

The end result will be a textile and a physical model of how the electronics could be done in a future iterations. During the final presentations videos of the process including first interactions on the body with existing boards and textiles, material explorations of textiles, and sketches and material models of how the future electronics could look.

If you are interested in participating, please provide your information at: