E-Textile Summer Camp Swatchbook

It’s been a hectic spring so far, with plenty of new and exciting collaborative projects in the pipeline for my research, as well as having been busy making new work to show at SOFA Chicago 2013 – hence the lack of new posts on the blog. With the arrival of summer even here in Scotland comes my first update on one of these collaborations.

Having experimented increasingly with thermochromic pigments for my research recently, it seemed natural that when invited to participate in the E-Textile Summer Camp Swatchbook Exchange to approach textile artist and lecturer at DJCAD Sara Robertson to produce a range of swatches incorporating thermochromic silicone and laser-cut textiles. After a few fun-filled afternoons of experimentation, we managed to produce 24 samples we were happy with, which will go into the swatchbooks for each participant and details of which can be found here. Each of the 24 participants will submit a sample of their own research in return, and the resulting swatchbooks will no doubt be coveted by e-practitioners all over the world – I can’t wait to see the finished booklets!

SmartLaB event this weekend!

It’s my SmartLab event this weekend at the Centrespace inside the VRC on the lower floors of the Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre and I hope to see some of you there! On display will be a range of prototypes of my latest interactive jewellery creations, as well as a short film of the Geotronic Brooch in action! There will also be a drop-in workshop for people to try their hand at using commercially available smart materials, and an ongoing demonstration of 3-d printing.

All are welcome, and there are two free talks each day, one at 12.30 and one at 2pm.

Back to School…

After a prolonged break from my Arduino experimentations I have finally made the time and, more crucially, room in my studio to return to the breadboard. It has not been a triumphant return. I could only remember the most basic facts about breadboarding, using electronic components and calculating resistance. Thankfully, I also had a whole new bag of funky components to break open, and after a little bit of online research, knowledge I had painstakingly acquired over the summer came flooding back to me in bits and pieces. I even vaguely remembered my plan (for which I had ordered said components) and how to go about executing it. However, of course my plan has changed since then and now I am unsure of how to combine the infinite variations of LEDs I have ordered in a meaningful way.

When looking over my components, the first surprise came when I inspected the Avago colour light sensor I had been so excited about in the summer. They say a picture is worth 1000 words, but to be honest I was still completely taken aback by the tiny size of this part, despite the useful size comparison picture next to it. How am I meant to solder that onto anything??? Briefly regretting not getting the fully assembled evaluation board instead (mainly because parts for wearable jewellery need to be tiny) I am now having to reconsider its immediate use in this project as I doubt my skills will advance quickly enough to make this part work (including all the programming). I had the foresight to order a simple optical sensor at the same time, and might use this instead in a more crude light/dark variation, which I might actually get to finish in time (the piece will be exhibited in March and needs to be delivered by February). As things stand right now, I will be over the moon if I even get the LEDs to work as I want them to and get all the soldering done on the components to fit them into the ‘chassis’, let alone complex colour sensing programming.

A significantly usefulĀ  idea I have come across in my research is to add a ‘sleep’ function to an Arduino programme in order to prolong battery life by turning off any funtionality not needed when the board is in sleep mode. As anyone working with wearables is aware of, battery life is one of the major problems, and so finding a way to make a single charge last longer is a great step in the right direction. I found a brilliant tutorial at Sparkfun on the subject, but unfortunately it exceeds my budding Arduino skills as of yet. However, I am sure I will return to it in the not so distant future – food for thought!

CIMTEC 2012 Conference at Montecatini Terme

Recently I was fortunate enough to be able to present a poster at the CIMTEC 2012 Materials Research Conference in Montecatini Terme, Italy. It was a truly inspiring and sometimes overwhelming experience, and I will be blogging in more detail about the lectures I heard and people I met over the coming weeks as I work my way through some of the material I gathered. For now, I am pleased to present an image of my poster – in situ – at CIMTEC 2012.