Wearables – My latest projects

Posted on January 9, 2015

With all of the new possibilities of wearables, an insatiable interest in technology (coding and soldering), and a lust for the fiber arts, what’s a girl to do with herself next? It’s time to build!

I may have started my exploration into making wearables by thinking a bit too large. I thought about making an article of clothing that could be paired with the smart home that I work on and get vitals and location information on those living in the home. I began working on this project, but there were so many things I did not know yet: networking protocols (which I still don’t know), how to code for Ardinos, and how to put together the right components to make projects work how you expect them to.

So, it was time to start smaller. With a fun passion project. I went to my local yarn store for some fun yarn, bought some items from Spark fun and began a project I would wear to keep me warm at conferences. Between the sparkly merino wool yarn and the sparkly LED’s, this one went over incredibly well.

I quickly made it a habit of watching AdaFruit’s Wearable Wednesdays to learn about new projects and techniques. I watched tear downs of some of the commercial favorites, Misfit Shine, Jawbone Up, Fitbit Force/Flex, cat ears with an EEG headset, dog collars with GPS, and the list goes on. Every new device, a great new idea, but generally the same hardware. I wanted to try more!

AdaFruit came out with a new project kit, the NeoPixel ring Goggles set. They had put them on their website before as a possible project, but now they were in a kit!

The lights change from red to green to blue. I took this project a little further and I added a switch, so that when they’re on your head you can turn them off. Not a big change, but useful when you want to wear them to class and not blind your professor. I want to add more colors, but that means changing the code to R, G, B tuples instead of it being bitwise changes as it is now. Also, I need to figure out the tuples that make specific colors and haven’t found a good guide for color combinations (yet).

More recently, AdaFruit started to add a lot of 3D Printed wearable projects. These are difficult, because it means finding someone willing to print your project’s casing before you can finish it, but there are a few printers around campus. I thought I would try out a new project on the website, an animated Mario clouds necklace. This being a project and not a kit means that many things would be slightly more difficult. You have to decide what items you want to use in comparison to what the person who wrote up the project used. You have to deal with less complete instructions, more bugs, and occasional wiring errors. But I was ready!

Currently, it’s only missing some painted on buttons on the front and a way to close the case (the instructions select using a screw that goes to no where), but one of the coolest projects I’ve made to date!

In February I have a team for a Hackathon, and we have some amazing projects lined up. All of this has been great practice, but when the Hackathon comes we will be making projects that have no tutorials. We will be making some things that are aesthetically brilliant, some that are entertainingly functional, and some that are just pure fun. I look forward to sharing them with you in the future.

Until next time, keep building!