Recently in interaction Category

It's been 4+ years since my last post. Wondering if anyone is still out there... If so, watch this fantastic video from TED.

Dialectric

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Laura MacCary and her father Lawrence MacCary are collaborating on a series of interactive electronic textiles that they call Dialectric. "By interacting with the weaving the viewer physically enters the circuit, and the circuit passes through the viewer, blurring the boundary between them." Touching one piece in the collection causes LEDs to light up, while touching another causes audible clicks.

The output of the weaves isn't based on a simple on/off switch. Instead, how you touch the fabric (providing more or less skin surface area) affects the intensity of the light or the frequency of the clicks. Commerical fabric circuits (such as those from SOFTswitch used in flexible keyboards or MP3 jackets) also share this resistive property, but they certainly don't exploit it. There's a huge potential for analog input to allow for more emotionally rich expression and interaction with fabric, so it's exciting to see the MacCarys exploring this area.

If you're in the Seattle area, you can play with these pieces at Illuminator2 from June 25 - July 31.

Adidas has developed a running shoe that senses changes in surface conditions and running style and adjusts the amount of heel cushioning accordingly.

Technology analyst Rob Enderle was quoted in the NY Times, "Of all items of clothing, the shoe is a logical one to be a focus of wearable technology. Unlike articles of clothing that must be washed or cleaned, shoes present a more stable place to add useful electronics."

Washing is one challenge, but designing new interaction techniques for articles of clothing is another. The interface on the Adidas shoe consists of two buttons (one with a "+" and one with a "-") for adjusting the desired cushioning level. The symbols are ambiguous though. Does "+" mean more firm or more cushiony? There's also a row of five tiny LEDs that indicates the current setting. I've found that light patterns aren't always as easy to interpret as designers expect them to be, so hopefully the mapping is straightforward and has been tested with potential wearers.

I'm a little bothered that Adidas is planning on shipping the shoes with a CD-ROM to explain how to use them and change the batteries. Granted, people may initially need some extra help learning how to interact with computerized shoes, but ultimately these types of products need to be designed in a way that doesn't require extensive instructions.

The shoe, called the Adidas 1, is slated to come out in December with a price tag of $250.

now isn't this sweet

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The folks who run "ensemble", an electronic music workshop for children, have created several garments and accessories with simple sensors. There's a hat that senses its position, a bag that senses light and darkness, suspenders that sense when they're being stretched, suits that sense their distance from each other, umbrellas that sense pressure, and skirts that sense acceleration.

As the kids play dress up, their movements and actions modify sounds and allow them to physically explore the music they create.

- Thanks to Chad for this link!

a means of self-expression

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Dianna Miller, who is finishing up a Masters degree at Ivrea, is looking at how wearables might be used as a means of self-expression, just as clothing expresses the personality and identity of the wearer.

For her thesis, she's developing a "sound accessory" that can be integrated into clothing and controlled by motion or pressure. There's a short interview with her about the project, which is called "Wrapt: sound to suit the wearer". The project site doesn't seem to be available yet.

She's also developed a very cool cape that simulates some of the sensations of flying. I want one! Flightdream.org has demos and a lot of process & implementation details.

- thanks for the link, Haven!

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