This project was part of a course, where we had to work with the materiality of e-textiles. We created a jacket that indicated when you enter within one meter of one’s personals sphere. This project is mostly focused on working with and iterate with materials.
At the beginning of our design process we decided, that we wanted to design something that used the material properties of textiles, and explore how one could extend the interface of the human body language. With the current COVID19 situation the focus quickly became social distancing, with a specific focus on how hard it can be to determine the exact length of a meter. We therefore wanted to create a jacket, that would look normal, but as one approaches it, the LED will light up faster and faster. This builds on the connotations of approaching a bomb, reminding one that they are too close.
We wanted to embrace the material we were working with and keep the realistic structure and look of a jacket. Therefore we used conductive tape sewn into a red bias strip, which would make the power transferring less noticeable. The LED’s would likewise be sewn as seamlessly as possible into the fabric, being connected with this tape. We quickly faced our first obstacle, as we couldn’t get more than a single LED to turn on. This was because of the limitation of how much current could be transferred through this tape. We then pivoted and relied on wires instead.
We began working with sensors to understand what would work best for this context. We chose one that measures in a cone shape, as it detected moving objects most precisely. Initially we thought of having four sensors. One pointing forward, one backward, and one to each side. Unfortunately there was an unforeseen error, as we couldn’t get four sensors to work at the same time. Only three were doable. Therefore, we had to make a choice of which sensor to ditch. We removed the one facing forward, due to the fact that this was the area in which the user itself best would be able to detect incomers. As we tested the set-up without the one facing forward, we realized how this put an emphasis on the sensors being an extension of one’s senses.
The final design had to incorporate huge chunks of wires in a see-through fabric. This became a very difficult task. Instead we had to embrace it and rely on the aesthetics of the visible wires, Arduino, and power supply. This project was very difficult technically. But we succeeded in addressing the technical qualities we wanted. It gave some great practice in understanding qualities of materials and keeping an open iteration in a process. We shot some fotos to create a more commercial feel to the product.