We (Aalto University of Arts, Design and Architecture) organised a Wearable Technology and eTextile Design exhibition in the EU parliament on 17th – 20th November 2014. The exhibition was hosted by MEP Henna Virkkunen at the Altiero Spinelli building in Brussels, Belgium.
The Wearable Technology and eTextile Design exhibition was a collaborative effort in the Aalto School of Arts, Design and Architecture to concretise what we mean when talking about the fruitful encounter of art, design, business and engineering. Most of the works on display were from master level study courses between 2011 and 2014.
LeeLuu – A Start-Up Company from Research-Driven Design Education
The brightest highlight (or maybe “nightlight”) of the exhibition was LeeLuu, a start-up company, which originates in the Interactive Prototyping course in Spring 2013. LeeLuu is the name for a night light for kids. With a LeeLuu children can explore the dark corners of their room in the evening and night. Any of the LeeLuu’s can be used to control the others, so the light atmosphere can be changed from bed. Interactive textile technology enables LeeLuu to be controlled by touch. Made of textile LeeLuu is a soft-toy as well as a light. LeeLuu was also featured in the Slush start-up event at the same time as in the EU parliament.
International Research Collaboration
The exhibition featured four designs that were created in collaboration with Design Research Lab at University of Arts (UdK) Berlin. The EIT ICT Laboratories funded “Connected Textiles” collaboration resulted in designs that explored how textile itself can be used as control device.
Knit capacitive switch pattern
A fair isle pattern with two separate areas is knit from conductive yarn. The two shapes serve as capacitive switches and can sense touch and the proximity of the human body. When the left side of the pattern is touched, a LED above the knit pattern will slowly light up. Touching the right side makes the light fade out. Touching both sides at once turns off the LED at once.
Knit capacitive swipe pattern
This pattern consists of two intersecting triangles, knit from conductive yarn and blend with mohair wool. The two triangles serve as capacitive antennas that can sense touch. The pattern acts as a slider. Placing the hand on one side and sliding it onto the other side will light up the corresponding LEDs on top of the pattern.
Design by: Prof. Dr. Gesche Joost, Dr. Katharina Bredies, Sara Diaz Rodriguez, Jussi Mikkonen, Ursula Wagner, and Hannah Perner-Wilson.
Radical Explorations and Utilitarian Designs
Perhaps the most radical of the works in the exhibition was the Brainwise by Metti Nordin and Valtteri Wikström. Brainwise is a hat that displays its wearer’s brain activity on the top of their head in different colours. It features an EEG (electroencephalogram), which feeds data about the wearer’s Alpha brain waves on the hat’s surface, through light fibre and RGB LED’s.
According to some experiments, frontal EEG asymmetry is a sign of negative emotion, or distress. Brainwise measures this by comparing the Alpha power from the two sides and adding green to the visualisation if there is a difference between the sides. Brainwise was made in the Wearable Electronics course at Aalto Media Factory in the fall of 2011.
Immediate Invisible – Fashion collection
Liisa Pesonen’s Immediate Invisible is an artistic women’s fashion collection and media artwork created in collaboration with a composer and an interaction designer. The artwork consists of six outfits, which are able to play composed soundscapes that evolve based on the wearer’s physiology.
Impulse/Control is a game-inspired dance performance. The performance is based on two arcade controllers operated by the leaders, and two dancers — the Samurai Sisters. The control boxes trigger vibrating pressure in different parts of the dancers’ costumes. These vibration signals are like a push — the push is an impulse, a motivating force that invites the dancer to action. Both of the vests feature holes for the LEDs to visually inform when vibration is transmitted.
This project was made by Forrest Oliphant, Liisa Pesonen, Hannele Romppanen for the Wearable Electronics course at Aalto Media Factory in the fall of 2011.
Powered Diving Suit
The Powered Diving Suit (called Avanto) by design students Aino Aarnio-Juurinen and Visa Kupias represents a design at the most utilitarian end of the exhibition. It is a diving suit targeted at divers in freezing waters. The suit features the OJAS – bi-directional wireless power link (see details here), which can transmit electricity through the outer layer of the diving suit, thus enabling the seamless replacement of power supply as well as removes the need to connect the textile layers by cables.
Audio on the Go
The soft radio illustrates the opportunities of creating ‘soft’ digital interfaces by deriving interaction-gestures from the context of textiles and interpreting traditional craft techniques for incorporating electronics in a way that complements the material characteristics of textiles. It is soft to hold and has a texture of any regular crocheted textile. The radio has a loop on top that can be twisted to change between two modes: volume and channel seeking. The values corresponding to the present mode ( i.e volume or fm band frequency) can be changed by wrapping the knitted chord around the crocheted sphere.
Musical hoodie concept addresses common problem of tangled headphones. It integrates headphones into a hood, and then makes the user experience as smooth as possible, embedding the classic user interface of a music player in logical interactions.
In technical details, pulling on the hood automatically starts the music from portable player, and you don’t have anything else to do since the headphones would already be on your ears. Pulling the right cord move songs forward, the left cord backwards, and both at once pauses the music. Volume can be adjusted by sliding up or down the tip of one cord on the other.
Note Bag enables the control of the playback of audio by the shoulder strap. The strap is pinched once to play and again to pause. Two pinches will skip forward to the next track and three skips backwards. To control the volume, the finger is used to touch the centre of the strap at any point and is moved up or down. Moving a finger up the strap increases the volume and down decreases it.
All are Designs that Actually Work
All of the designs that were presented in the design exhibition were actually working prototypes. They featured all the technology to test them with users and to enable people to get the experiences that the novel technological opportunities allow for.
Skobo is a modern cast shoe designed for kids and teenagers from 7 to 15 years old. The interaction with the user accomplish by led fabric plate on the top of the shoe and vibration that user could feel while walking with the shoe on. The Skobo responds on the amount of weight that user put on the injured leg according to the settings that could be adjusted for every new patient. The Skobo is designed for mass use, distributing among the hospitals that means that Skobo is a lettable product.
Honest shoes assist people to train their presentation skills. The shoes monitor signals of non-confidence, e.g. not walking or standing still, but fidgeting etc that should be avoided to give good impression. The shoes give buzzes when they recognise unnecessary movements.
Images from the event
We are grateful for the financial support from Aalto ARTS / Teemu Leinonen.