AnemoneStarHeart at ISWC Design Exhibition, 2016, Heidelberg, Germany.

Last month (September 2016) I traveled to Heidelberg, Germany, for the 20th International Symposium on Wearable Computers (ISWC), held at the gorgeous art nouveau Kongresshaus Stadthalle Heidelberg. ISWC is the world’s foremost symposium for issues pertaining to on the body and worn wearable technologies and shares a conference venue with Ubicomp, concerned with ubiquitous computing. The symposium attracts attendees from all over the world: from researchers to designers, start-ups and manufacturers, all eager to hear about the latest advances and products, prototypes and related information.
ISWC 2016
Kongresshaus Stadthalle Heidelberg, venue for ISWC/Ubicomp 2016

2016 is my 5th year of attending ISWC and my 5th year of exhibiting my wearable tech work in its Design Exhibition, which requires the submission of a paper to a jury who select work to appear at the exhibition in the categories of Aesthetic, Functional and Fibre Arts. The exhibition took place in the Sebastian Münster Saal of Kongresshaus Stadthalle Heidelberg over 3 days of the symposium.

Setting up Anemonestarheart for ISWC Design Exhibition

AnemoneStarHeart.

This year I exhibited my AnemoneStarHeart EEG pendant, an emotive wearable and multifunctional device. It is an illuminated, 3D printed heart-shaped pendant, that is an iteration of my 2013 EEG Visualising Pendant for social situations. It evolved via input from my focus group and field trial feedback looking at potential wearers of emotive wearables. Its aim is to be used for visualising and displaying EEG data between couples, close friends and family, either worn, held or used to light up a room via its super bright RGB LEDs. It is also a device to aid the wearer’s relaxation or productivity monitoring purposes, for example through meditation. The device maps ‘meditation’ and ‘attention’ data sent from an EEG headset and displays it by illuminating the AnemoneStarHeart pendant accordingly. If you would like to read my ISWC paper on AnemoneStarHeart, it’s available from the ACM Digital Library or please ask for a copy.

AnemoneStarHeart ready for ISWC Design Exhibition

Highlights of the Design Exhibition included: Jorge & Esther’s Programmable Plaid dress, Lucie Hernandez encouraged play through textiles with her Touchplay: Crafting Material Affinities work, Berit Greinke et al’s Interactive Workwear: Smart Maintenance Jacket, and Sally-Sue Lee et al’s Fleurtech: Transformable Smart Dress, which changed in length for changing situations and contexts. Details of all exhibits can be found here. Thanks very much to James Hallam for his tireless work as Design Exhibition chair this year.

Design Exhibition at ISWC

Jorge & Esther’s Programmable Plaid dress.

Before the full conference began I attended two days of workshops. The first was run as a collaboration of MIT Media Lab, Harvard Medical School, Saarland University and Microsoft Research: (UnderWare) Aesthetic, Expressive, and Functional On-Skin Technologies. It  comprised of an exciting day of presentations from researchers and designers from around the world of their amazing wearable technology prototypes to be worn on the skin. There included many questions and discussion on subjects as diverse as ethics to the challenges of retail/production

Marina Toeters at MIT + Microsoft Underware:Aesthetic, Expressive, and Functional On-Skin Technologies workshop

(UnderWare) Aesthetic, Expressive, and Functional On-Skin Technologies workshop, Marina Toeters presenting.

Troy & his diabetic 3D printed shoe

One of Troy Nachtigall’s diabetic shoe prototypes at the Underware workshop.

On day two, I attended Collective Adaptation in Very Large Scale Ubicomp: Towards a Superorganism of Wearables, a fascinating workshop which discussed how connected devices could shape planetary supeorganism networks and looked at questions such as how we program these as a single system to work for us and help us in everyday situations from crowd control to infrastructure and the management of large complex hubs such as transport or hospital management.

Cindy Hsin Lio Kao's amazing DuoSkin tattoos

Cindy Hsin Lio Kao et al’s amazing DuoSkin tattoos.

The conference then spanned the next three days with sessions focusing on topics from fabrics, textiles and skin made smart to haptics, activity recognition and sensing, extended realities, industry and interaction. More details can be found on the ISWC website and papers can be found in the proceedings. The final day keynote was given by Rosalind Picard, whose work with affective computing has been an important and inspirational contribution to my field in physiological data capturing wearables. I was lucky enough to meet her and briefly show her my AnemoneStarHeart pendant.

Honoured to meet Ros Picard at ISWC after her keynote

Meeting Rosalind Picard after her keynote at ISWC.

ISWC/Ubicomp is going to be held in Maui, Hawaii, next year! In order to take part I’m going to need some serious funding, so please send any ideas/opportunities for financing my trip.

EPSRC UK ICT Pioneers

Firstly, Happy New Year and best wishes for an amazing 2016! I’ve had a super-busy couple of months since my last post in September about my exciting trip to exhibit my ThinkerBelle EEG Amplifying Dress in Japan. I’ve moved house, which has flung me over the opposite side of London, which is going to require tons of work to create a comfy home and nice studio to work in. I have been plotting new emotive wearables pieces, plus investigating how I can develop this work and how it might evolve in the future wearables arena as a business. I’ve also given a couple of talks on my emotive wearable work at dorkbot London and the BBC, which was fun.

EPSRC UK ICT Pioneers finals, 2015
On stage at the UK ICT Pioneers final.

A fab experience for me was to get through the initial stages and to be selected as a finalist for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s (EPSRC) UK ICT Pioneers Competition final. As the EPSRC describes it, “UK ICT Pioneers is a unique partnership between EPSRC and key stakeholders, which recognises the most exceptional UK doctoral students in ICT-related topics, who can demonstrate the commercial potential and impact of their research to business”. The competition included judges from EPSRC, Dstl, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Facebook, BCS (The Chartered Institute for IT), Samsung and BT. At the finals held at the QEII Centre in Westminster, London, I was really excited to take examples of my doctoral practice and present my PhD research to four sets of judges at the final, plus invited academics and industry representatives. Although I didn’t win (the competition was exceptionally tough!), I had a great day meeting judges and hanging out with the other fabulous finalists who I’d already met many of at the media training day in October at EPSRC’s HQ in Swindon. During the finals, I was bowled over to hear more details about their amazing their research projects, which I’m sure I’ll hear more about in the future as they evolve and grow.

EPSRC UK ICT Pioneers finals, 2015
My stand at UK ICT Pioneers final.

EPSRC UK ICT Pioneers finals, 2015
All finalists on stage.

ThinkerBelle Fibre Optic EEG Amplifying Dress at ISWC Design Exhibition, Osaka, Japan

I’m just back from an amazing trip to Japan where I exhibited my ThinkerBelle EEG Amplifying Dress at the Design Exhibition of the 19th International Symposium on Wearable Computers (ISWC). This event was part of the 2015 ACM joint international conference of ISWC and Ubicomp, which took place this year at Grand Front Osaka, Japan.

ThinkerBelle EEG Amplifying Dress
ThinkerBelle EEG Amplifying Dress

I exhibited the dress alongside garments, accessories, textiles and devices, in the wearable tech categories of functional, aesthetic and fibre arts.

ThinkerBelle EEG Amplifying Dress
ThinkerBelle EEG Amplifying Dress


ThinkerBelle EEG Amplifying Dress in Tokyo!

Many thanks to this year’s Design Exhibition chairs Margarita Benitez and Halley Profita and jury panel: Maggie Orth, Sonny Vu, Tricia Flanagan and Frances Joseph.

Wear & Tear workshop with Thad Starner  at #ISWC15
Thad Starner’s keynote at Wear and Tear workshop.

At ISWC / Ubicomp I participated in two workshops, firstly Wear and Tear: Constructing Wearable Technology for The Real World. This was organised by colleagues at Georgia Tech Wearable Computing Centre and was a really useful and enjoyable day of reportage on building devices and systems. Thad Starner gave the keynote and was followed by various speakers who discussed what went right and what went wrong during the process of building their devices. Everyone shared useful approaches, tips and tricks to fixing issues and developing hardware and devices. A big thank you to the organisers: Peter Presti, Scott Gilliland, Abdelkareem Bedri, Clint Zeagler and Thad Starner, and the speakers, for a brilliant day.

Andy Quitmeyer's portable soldering shorts at ISWC Wear & Tear workshop
Andy Quitmeyer’s soldering station shorts at Wear and Tear workshop.

The second workshop I participated in was Broadening Participation. The event was created to increase the involvement of women, all students from developing countries, as well as underrepresented minorities, including persons with disabilities, in the field of ubiquitous and wearable computing. The day comprised of interesting and motivational talks and panels from those already working in the field of ubiquitous and wearable computing. There was also two poster sessions where participants discussed their research. I presented a poster on my doctoral research on Responsive and Emotive Wearables. I really enjoyed meeting and sharing my research with participants as well as hearing about their research, which was really interesting and there were some great crossover projects and research, which I’m going to follow up. Thanks very much to organisers: A. J. Brush, Miwako Doi, Gillian Hayes, Polly Huang, Judy Kay, Hitomi Tsujita, I.E. Yairi, Naomi Yamashita and Helen Ai He, and the speakers, for a great day.

Broadening Participation Workshop

Attendees of the Broadening Participation Workshop.

ThinkerBelle Fibre Optic EEG Amplifying Dress

ThinkerBelle EEG Amplifying Dress

I’m writing up my PhD thesis at the moment and analysing a huge amount of data from over 70 surveys and 8 hours of focus group audio transcripts. Anyway, without giving away too much about the data, as I’m saving it for my thesis, here’s a little preview of my ThinkerBelle EEG Amplifying Dress. I created this dress in response to a subsection of feedback data from my field trials and focus groups, which investigated the functionality, aesthetics and user experience of wearables and in particular wearer and observer feedback on experiences with my EEG Visualising Pendant. The motivation for creating the dress was for engagement in social situations in which the wearer might find themselves in a noisy or crowded area, where it is not possible to hear others and communicate easily – where forms of non-verbal communication may be useful. The dress broadcasts the meditation and attention data of the wearer for observers to make their own interpretations. It is up to the wearer if they want to divulge information regarding the physiological source of the data being visualised.


A short video of the dress.


A longer video of the dress shot in Tokyo, Japan.

ThinkerBelle fibre optic EEG dress

The dress was constructed with a satin fabric and fibre optic filament woven into organza. Using a NeuroSky MindWave Mobile EEG headset signals in the form of two separate streams, ‘attention’ and meditation’, are sent via Bluetooth to the dress, which amplifies and visualises the data via the fibre optic filament. Attention data is shown as red light and meditation signal data as green light. The dress is constructed so the two streams of data light overlap and interweave. The fibre optic filament is repositionable allowing the wearer to make their own lighting arrangements and dress design. The red and green light fades in an out as the levels of attention and meditation data of wearer highten or decline.

The dress’ hardware has a choice of modes, so it is possible to record and playback the data. This makes it possible for the wearer to appear to be concentrating or relaxed if wished to influence a social situation, what I call ’emotive engineering’. Also if the wearer would like to use their EEG data to create a certain mix of colour and light on the dress. It is also possible to set the playback mode and take off the EEG headset if the wearer wants to be headset free.

ThinkerBelle fibre optic EEG dress
Red = attention / green = meditation

As you can see I’ve included a few initial photos of the dress in action showing the EEG data as it is received from the headset. I have not made a successful video of the dress yet, as it’s difficult to light the dress for photos and filming. I will add a video when I’ve worked around this!

I have also been experimenting with changing the form factor of the headset for aesthetic and comfort, using various materials.

ThinkerBelle fibre optic EEG dress
Feeling relaxed = very green dress!

A bit of extra info, in case you were wondering… During my PhD research, I’ve been investigating the possibility of that wearable technology can be used with physiological data to create new forms of non-verbal communication. Since 2008 I’ve been experimenting with wearables, sensors and social situations, which led me to focus on wearables. These wearables amplify visualise and broadcast data from the body. As mentioned in previous blog posts, the field of wearable technology has blossomed and grown rapidly in recent years into a huge and mainly undefined set of devices, platforms, uses and practice. It was therefore necessary for me (a couple of years ago now) to create my own nomenclature to define the area I was creating and researching in. The first subset area being ‘responsive wearables’, which deals with wearables that respond to various physiological, environmental and other user related data and gives an output. This worked for a short while but still wasn’t definitive. I went on to drill down and make a new subset of this area to find a better definition for the emerging field I was working in, which I named ‘emotive wearables’. This area focuses on the area of wearable technology which deals with the gleaning of physiological data from the body, processes and broadcasts it in some way from the wearer. The output could be sound, movement, light, etc.

ThinkerBelle fibre optic EEG dress

My research with sensors, social situations, ambient and physiological data has led me to work with sound signal input (decibels), temperature (Celsius), pressure (Pascal) and altitude (metres) ECG (Electrocardiography), GSR (Galvanic Skin Response), EMG (Electromyography) and EEG (Electroencephalography), but my main focus for my PhD has been on the development and research of emotive wearables with EEG data.

AnemoneStarHeart EEG / ECG visualising device at Transmission Symposium

AnemoneStarHeart handheld EEG/ECG Visualising Device

At the end of April I spent a very enjoyable day at Bournemouth University attending Transmission Symposium: Strategies for Brainwave Interpretation in the Arts. There were some very interesting presentations, exchanges of ideas and discussion on the intersection between art, cognition and technology. Links to the event, artists and scientists taking part can be found here. Thank you to Oliver Gingrich for inviting me to participate and to all the attendees, especially those who visited my emotive wearable exhibits, asked questions and/or tried a device and filled in a feedback survey.

At Transmission Symposium I debuted my AnemoneStarHeart, which is a pendant which can also be used as handheld or standalone device (smaller version being tweaked!) I have developed for broadcasting, amplifying and visualising EEG and ECG data. I have been developing this device as part of the iteration process of the EEG Visualising Pendant. It brings together technology and elements from my aforementioned EEG Visualising Pendant and Flutter ECG pendant hack.

Watching 'Canal Trip' on BBC4 with AnemoneStarHeart broadcasting / visualising EEG
AnemoneStarHeart being used as an ambient device to observe relaxation whilst watching ‘Canal Trip’ slow TV programme, BBC4, May 15.

It can be used, for example as an aid for meditation, relaxation and concentration, as well as for personal viewing or sharing physiological data in social situations with others. Data is sent to the AnemoneStarHeart via Bluetooth and it is a battery operated, standalone device. It can either be worn as a pendant, viewed in the palm of the hand or placed in a convenient area of a room – illuminating the space with coloured light. Whilst sensors are transmitting data to the device, it constantly visualises it, changing colour and brightness based on the data it receives. The smaller, wearable version hangs from a chain as a necklace or in the style of a pocket watch so it can be brought out, looked at, then put away again. As I am interested in the commercial possibilities of bespoke couture wearables and small editions of emotive devices, at some point I aspire to crowdfund this project.

AnemoneStarHeart lit up with live EEG data

As part of my PhD research, I have spent the best part of a year organising and running focus groups with potential users of emotive wearables and the EEG Visualising Pendant in London and Amsterdam. I have also conducted field trials in various social and work situations across London and Brighton, plus collected feedback from observers of the pendant. Since the beginning of 2015 I have been analysing the resulting data. This is to discover the preferences and feedback of potential wearers of emotive wearables as well as the EEG Visualising Pendant. Out of the resulting data, so far, has evolved the AnemoneStarHeart device, for which I devised a new configuration of electronic components and code. I created a new enclosure for the electronics in 3D modelling package Rhino, with help from skills learned at Francis Bitonti’s computational design workshop. It was selective laser sintered (SLS) in Nylon, in one of D2W’s EOS machines in London.

Rain & AnemoneStarHeart lit up with live EEG data

At the moment I am mostly out of general circulation as I’m collecting and analysing data which is feeding into the new emotive wearable devices I am building, whilst simultaneously endeavoring to write up / finish my PhD thesis to deadline.

Francis Bitonti’s New Skins Workshop 2015 at Digits2Widgets, London

Containers of work to be opened!

After staying in writing over Xmas and New Year, I was very excited to escape the confines of my desk to join Francis Bitonti’s New Skins Workshop on computational design for textiles, for two weeks at Digits2Widgets 3D printing bureau in Camden.

The workshops consisted of alternating tutorials on techniques for creating 3D textile meshes in Autodesk Maya and Rhino 3D software, and also writing Processing sketches for 3D graphics. The workshops were taught by Francis Bitonti and Arthur Azoulai.

Tom modelling textures on the body in Rhino 3D
Tom’s work on wrapping mesh to make a shirt around a body.

Our first week started off by creating meshes for the body in skirt and shirt like forms in Rhino 3D. We then experimented with various mesh techniques to apply varied distributions of extruded geometric shapes on to a mesh. Going on to concentrate on creating interlocking aspects of a circle, we created a repeated template that could be used to create chainmail in Rhino 3D.

Magdalena making chain mail in Rhino
Magdalena making chain mail for textiles in Rhino 3D.

In Maya we played with primitive polygon shapes and then experimented with them in the animation timeline to flip and tween between shapes, which we could then start to turn into mesh textiles by joining them together.

New Skins Workshop montage
L-R work by Victoria, Ezmeralda, Tom and Ioana.

After discussing our ideas and designs for what we would like to individually create, we spent a couple of days building our own meshes. Every .STL file was checked over and fixed in Materialise’s very useful app, Magics (which I wish I could afford for future work!), before sending to the SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) machine to be turned into real objects via the magic of a laser zapping powdered nylon.

New Skins Workshop montage
L-R work by Nada, Magdalena, me and Carmen.

Whilst the objects in the machine were being turned around, which takes several hours as the cubicle inside the machine stacks up several files / containers of work to be processed at a time, we did some examples of Processing sketches to create 3D graphics. We also learned about other software packages such as ZBrush, which is a powerful 3D sculpturing tool for manipulating 3D objects and looks like amazing fun to play with.

Two heart shapes for a locket to contain electronics
My design shaping up in Rhino 3D.

AnemoneStarsHeart pieces
The container with my heart halves inside just opened by Johnathan!

Of course the most exciting part of the two-weeks was receiving the containers from the SLS machine, with the fruits of our creativity neatly concealed inside! I created a heart-shaped shell enclosure /pendant with a repeated star mesh to create an anemone-like effect. This was created to house the electronics and act as a diffuser of data in the form of coloured light for the next iteration of my EEG Visualising Pendant. The pendant amplifies and visualises attention and meditation EEG data from the wearer via a NeuroSky EEG headset.

AnemoneStarsHeart heart lit up with live EEG data
AnemoneStarsHeart lit up with live EEG data from my brainz!

Rain & AnemoneStarsHeart heart lit up with live EEG data
AnemoneStarsHeart lit up with live EEG data via Bluetooth NeuroSky MindWave headset.

Many thanks to Francis, Arthur, Jonathan and the staff at D2W for a great two weeks of fun and excellent hospitality, plus not forgetting the lovely attendees of the workshop who were fab to hang out with.

Baroesque Barometric Skirt in New Scientist & on show at Microsoft Research, Redmond, USA

As we trundle into the dark winter days of 2014, I will be locking myself away to write, so I won’t be traveling to show my work in any exciting cities for a while.

So, just a couple of nuggets of recent news on my Baroesque Barometric Skirt – I was delighted to hear that it had been featured in the ‘One Per Cent’ column in New Scientist Magazine, September 27th issue, which reported on it being shown at the ISWC (International Symposium on Wearable Computing) Design Exhibition at the EMP Museum in Seattle last September.

My Barometric Skirt in New Scientist, in Mayday Hosp shop
The Baroesque Barometric Skirt featured in New Scientist

Rain & New Scientist, which contains pic & mention of Baroesque Barometric Skirt
Me being chuffed in Smiths with a copy of New Scientist

The Baroesque Barometric Skirt was also on display at Microsoft Research Gallery during September and October, which was organised by Asta Roseway of Microsoft Research and Troy Natchtigall, chair of the ISWC Design Exhibition. The skirt, which is part of my PhD practice should be winging its way back to me soon and I’m looking forward to being reunited with it.

ISWC Design Exhibition at Microsoft Research Gallery, Redmond, WA, USA
Baroesque Barometric Skirt exhibited at the Microsoft Research Gallery in Redmond, WA, USA. Image by kind permission of James Hallam of Georgia Tech, whose Ballet Hero garment is also featured in this photo.

ISWC Design Exhibition at Microsoft Research Gallery, Redmond, WA, USA

Some of the other exhibits on show at Microsoft Research Gallery. Images by kind permission of James Hallam.

ISWC Design Exhibition at Microsoft Research Gallery, Redmond, WA, USA

Whilst in Seattle at ISWC, I took advantage of the interesting decor of the Motif Hotel to make a new video of the skirt. Many thanks to Johnny Farringdon for being my cameraman🙂