Tag Archives: wearable technology

ThinkerBelle 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.

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 an ambient handheld device (smaller wearable 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 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 :-)

World Maker Faire 2014, New York Science Park

World Maker Faire
Yay, arrived at New York Maker Faire :-)

I was really excited to be in NYC in September to attend and do a presentation on my wearables work at my first US Maker Faire. Having exhibited at four UK Maker Faires in Newcastle, plus Brighton Mini Maker Faire and visiting both Elephant and Castle Maker Faires (where at the most recent I wandered about soliciting feedback on my EEG Visualising Pendant), I was full of anticipation for the World Maker Faire weekender at the New York Hall of Science, in Queens, New York.

Maker Faire
World Maker Faire is totally vast!

I had heard it would be big, but I wasn’t prepared for the hugeness of it, or that it would mainly be an outside event! It was comprised of several fields of stands and presentation stages, plus the entirety of the New York Hall of Science, which isn’t a small building. Because I had a big list of places I wanted to visit in Manhattan, I had intended to spend half a day on Saturday and Sunday at Maker Faire, but due to the vastness of World Maker Faire I spent two whole days there till closing each day and I still didn’t see everything or meet up with or find all the friends I had intended to say hello to.

Maker Faire is large!
Map of hugeness of World Maker Faire!

On day two (Sunday), on the Electronics Stage, I gave a presentation on my own work, primarily my Baroesque Barometric Skirt and EEG Visualising Pendant, which I wore around World Maker Faire, that incited much curiosity and feedback – which was a fun way to meet people! It was lovely that friends were in the audience and afterwards we had much fun wandering about and catching up. The talk slot was a bit short for me as I usually have a lot to say, so I had to wind up before my slides ran out, but I enjoyed the opportunity immensely.

Presenting on visualising physiological data
Me, presenting my wearable technology work at the Electronics Stage

Ivaylo, Mandy, Ran & me
Was fabulous to catch up with and hang out with Ivaylo, Mandy and Ran, plus thank you for coming to my talk :-)

In terms of what was on show, it wasn’t very different from what I’d been used to seeing at UK Maker Faires, i.e. lots of electronics, crafts and technology stalls from individual makers, hackspaces and organisations, but there were loads more large stalls from the big players such as Atmel, Intel and Arduino.

Just one of the signposts around World Maker Faire!

It was great that there were many presentation stages and a multitude of talks to choose from, my favourite talk of the weekend was by one of my favourite inspirational wearables creators and thinkers, Kate Hartman, who spoke about the work her students have been up to at OCAD University in Toronto. I went up to Kate at the end to say hello, which was lovely. Check out her conceptual wearables, they’re very cool and have a look at the Social Body Lab and projects, which she runs at OCAD.

Kate Hartman talk
I really enjoyed Kate Hartman’s presentation on wearables

There were too many great stands and projects to document, but one of my favourites was the glorious Sashimi Tabernacle Choir, consisting of a car covered with over two hundred and fifty computer controlled lobsters, bass, trout, catfish and sharks. The Choir performs a choreographed repertoire of songs from pop songs to classical opera. It’s fabulous – enjoy the videos and info on the website!

Very amusing Sashimi Tabernacle Choir
The wonderful Sashimi Tabernacle Choir

A highlight of World Maker Faire was finally finding the OpenBCI stand. I had been conversing with Conor via email about their modular sensing kits that they had recently successfully ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund. To emphasise the vastness of World Maker Faire, it had taken me two days to find them. After asking at multiple help points, studying the map and wandering around and around the fields, I finally found the OpenBCI on the last day by grabbing a kindly information stand helper, who on hearing my plight, wandered around with me to find their stand! I’m really glad I persevered, as it was lovely to meet Conor and Joel and fascinating to chat about and view their OpenBCI wares being demonstrated, plus they had a special discount offer for that weekend, which I took advantage of and can’t wait to get my own OpenBCI kit soon!

Conor & me
Great to finally meet Conor from OpenBCI

Another highlight of World Maker Faire was bumping into inspirational electronics engineer and entrepreneur Limor Fried AKA Ladyada, and Phil of Adafruit. I have been following Limor’s work since I got my first LilyPad Arduino back in 2008, which I bent her ear about and also showed her my EEG Visualising Pendant. When I got back to the UK I sent details of the pendant to Adafruit and fab fellow wearable creator, (whose work I’ve also followed for years) Becky Stern put up a page up about it on the Adafruit Wearable Wednesday blog – thanks Limor and Becky!

Limor Fried (Ladyada) & me
Yay, thanks Limor for allowing me to bend your ear on my EEG Visualising Pendant :-)

To sum up, World Maker Faire was huge, amazing and inspiring – I’d love to go again – thanks for having me!

Metrocard Man & Doge
Metrocard Man and Doge!

Mushy Daleks
Even at World Maker Faire there’s gotta be Daleks, especially knitted ones!

One has to say hello to the iconic Giraffe!

Strange and wonderful retro music makers
Strange and wonderful upcycled music machines

Drawing circuits
Ivaylo drawing a circuit with a conductive pen

Curreh vegan goat & other delacacies
Curry Vegan ‘Goat'(TVP) and other vegan delacacies were on offer!

Don't wear your EEG headset for too long!
This skellington is wearing their EEG headset wrongly!

OpenBCI stand
This skull is wearing their OpenBCI headset appropriately (I think)!

Posing with Make Robot
Posing with the Maker Faire Robot

Quantified Self Europe 2014: Emotive Wearables Breakout Session

Quantified Self Europe pre-party

It was great to visit Amsterdam again and see friends at the 3rd Quantified Self Europe Conference, previously I have spoken at the conference on Sensing Wearables, in 2011 and Visualising Physiological Data, in 2013.

There were two very prominent topics being discussed at Quantified Self Europe 2014, firstly around the quantifying of grief and secondly on privacy and surveillance. These are two very contrasting and provocative areas for attendees to contemplate, but also very important to all, for they’re very personal areas we can’t avoid having a viewpoint on. Rather than me try to summarise a few of the talks, if you’d like to find out more about the excellent presentations and discussions at the conference, search for ‘QSEU14’ or ‘europe’ on the Quantified Self website where many of the sessions have write-ups, photos and video documentation.

My contribution to the conference was to lead a Breakout Session on Emotive Wearables and demonstrated my EEG Visualising Pendant. Breakout Sessions are intended for audience participation and I wanted to use this one-hour session to get feedback on my pendant for its next iteration and also find out what people’s opinions were on emotive wearables generally.

I’ve been making wearable technology for six years and have been a PhD student investigating wearables for three years; during this time I’ve found wearable technology is such a massive field that I have needed to find my own terms to describe the areas I work in, and focus on in my research. Two subsets that I have defined terms for are, responsive wearables: which includes garments, jewellery and accessories that respond to the wearer’s environment, interactivity with technology or physiological signals taken from sensor data worn on or around the body, and emotive wearables: which describes garments, jewellery and accessories that amplify, broadcast and visualise physiological data that is associated with non-verbal communication, for example, the emotions and moods of the wearer. In my PhD research I am looking at whether such wearable devices can used to express non-verbal communication and I wanted to find out what Quantified Self Europe attendees opinions and attitudes would be to such technology, as many attendees are super-users of personal tracking technology and are also developing it.

Demo-ing EEG Visualising Pendant

My EEG Visualising Pendant is an example of my practice that I would describe as an emotive wearable, because it amplifies and broadcasts physiological data of the wearer and may provoke a response from those around the wearer. The pendant visualises the brainwave attention and meditation data of the wearer simultaneously (using data from a Bluetooth NeuroSky MindWave headset), via an LED (Light Emitting Diode) matrix, allowing others to make assumptions and interpretations from the visualisations. For example, whether the person wearing the pendant is paying attention or concentrating on what is going on around them, or is relaxed and not concentrating.

After I demonstrated the EEG Visualising Pendant, I invited attendees of my Breakout Session to participate in a discussion and paper survey about attitudes to emotive wearables and in particular feedback on the pendant. We had a mixed gender session of various ages and we had a great discussion, which covered areas such as, who would wear this device and other devices that also amplified one’s physiological data. We discussed the appropriateness of such personal technology and also thought in depth about privacy and the ramifications of devices that upload such data to cloud websites for processing, plus the positive and the possible negative aspects of data collection. Other issues we discussed included design and aesthetics of prominent devices on the body and where we would be comfortable wearing them.

I am still transcribing the audio from the session and analysing the paper surveys that were completed, overall the feedback was very positive. The data I have gathered will feed into the next iteration of the EEG Visualising Pendant prototype and future devices. It will also feed into my PhD research. Since the Quantified Self Europe Conference, I have run the same focus group three more times with women interested in wearable technology, in London. I will update my blog with my findings from the focus groups and surveys in due course, plus of course information on the EEG Visualising Pendant’s next iteration as it progresses.

Ada Lovelace Day 2013 – Lynne Bruning, E-textile Enchantress Extraordinaire

Happy Ada Lovelace Day! Now in its forth year, ALD celebrates women in technology and science, from students to the famous names and of course Ada Lovelace herself. Ada was a mathematician who is known as the world’s first computer programmer because of her notes suggesting the first algorithm for computer, for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, the first general-purpose computer. On Ada Lovelace Day it is now traditional to write a blog post about a women in technology or science who one finds inspiring.

Raw choc caek in Inspiral with Lynne & Nikki.
Lynne also has excellent taste in caek!

This year I’m writing about my good friend, Lynne Bruning, tech educator, fashion designer, innovator, e-textile enchantress, blogger and whose non-stop enthusiasm for all things wearable tech, fashion, art and life itself is an inspiration.

Lynne uses her BA in Neurophysiology from Smith College, a Masters in Architecture from the University of Colorado and her family history in textiles to create stunning, colourful, bespoke technology infused fashions and as her blog says, Lynne “jets thru the universe creatively cross-pollinating the worlds of science, textiles, fashion and technology”. She is constantly updating her website and others such as Instructables with new tutorials, how tos, with news of testing components and ideas for getting the most out of making e-textiles and wearable technology – who else would conduct a thorough investigation into the best conductive thread to buy and what to avoid? Lynne, also periodically broadcasts her tech tips and tricks, and conducts show ‘n’ tells on The eTextile Lounge, on Livestream, where lively conversation between Lynne, her guests and viewers can be found.

In terms of innovation, Lynne has created a technique to hand-weave conductive thread and LEDs. Her work also includes the creation of assistive wearable technologies, such as her Bats haptic coat, which is designed to assist visually impaired wearers to navigate their environment using sonar. If an object is within 24″ a vibrating motor will activate and buzz that an object is coming up in the users path. See image below.

Lynne Bruning's Bats haptic coat

Not content with all of the above, Lynne also exhibits her work and has curated wearable tech shows and workshops at events such as Maker Faires, plus gives presentations on technology, fashion and e-textiles.