Last weekend I visited picturesque Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire to deliver a workshop on wearable technology and e-textiles, incorporating LilyPad Arduino Simple microcontroller boards, for the Bridge Rectifier Hackerspace Group, which was held in Hebden Bridge’s lovely Town Hall.
I started the day with a presentation on wearable technology, its background, some thoughts on the influence of Science Fiction, Makers and Hackers, and the effect of the miniaturisation of computing and communications technology on wearable technology, plus some examples of existing wearable technology and uses.
The workshop itself introduced the LilyPad Arduino microcontroller and Arduino IDE (Integrated Development Environment), as well as introductory coding and electronics concepts and terms. On the practical side, attendees used crocodile clips to put together a simple LED (Light Emitting Diode) circuit, followed by a more complex LDR (Light Dependent Resistor) circuit and experiment with code to play with threshold levels to turn a bi-colour LED from green to red.
After experimenting with code and watching the results in the serial monitor, attendees sketched out circuits and worked with conductive thread, fabrics and accessories on ideas for wearable electronics and e-textile projects that incorporated the circuits and code sketches explored earlier in the day.
I really enjoyed running the workshop and was very impressed by the enthusiasm and ideas from the attendees, who were roughly of a 50/50 gender mix, a broad range of ages and backgrounds. The wearable projects that evolved during the afternoon included: a colourful flashing Burlesque barrette, a green, sensing Cyclops for a t-shirt whose one eye changed from green to red, a prototype t-shirt for a local drumming band which incorporated sequenced flashing LEDs, a LilyPad turned into a flower featuring a blinking LED to feature on a hat, an LED glove and a t-shirt featuring a figurine with LED eyes and LEDs incorporated into its outfit, plus some experimental circuits with LDR and LEDs.