Interactive Accessories

A few weeks ago I worked on a project with NuVu, a design school in Boston that is geared around multidisciplinary and collaborative projects. I was working with students in the “Interactive Fashion Studio”at ASB Mumbai, NuVu’s partner school in India.
We started the week questioning what interactive means, and looking at how fashion can impact on our daily lives. We looked at a few examples including the massage vest by Kobakant, the spider dress by Anouk Wipprecht, and this wonderful musical rain (we were curious how this would sound in the monsoons?!).

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Students then went on to discuss and brainstorm issues they have in their daily lives. They made some really beautiful storyboards, I didn’t manage to get any pictures of them, but they were a big part of the design process. When sharing their project ideas with the class, most of the groups acted out scenes using the storyboards as scripts. They also learned programming using the Lilypad Arduino, and electronics with e-textiles. It was such a fun week and students made some really inspiring projects.

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Lie detector project: a device that lights up when siblings sibling lie to your parents.
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Computational 1Z: a visual aid for new borns to start learning gestural responses to their needs.
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Clock on your top -helping you (and everyone around you) be on time!DSC00492
The light hat -a way of reading without disturbing your family (really happy that the students are into reading real books :) )7DSC00500
Probably the sweetest project -a friendship bracelet that lights up a memory of your friend. This was especially moving in an international school where students are so transient.
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The amazing NuVu team -the other NuVu studios were so so cool, and students made really interesting work including games, futuristic fashion, interactive street art, documentaries, music, robots, and comics.
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And this was what my desk looked like the day before I left SF. Pom pom a go go.

Book Club of California

This week I had the pleasure to present some of my books at a public talk for the Book Club of California. The club, which has been in San Francisco for about 100 years, is on the 5th floor of a commercial building a stone’s throw away from Chinatown. Walking into the space is kind of like going back in time. There were columns painted gold, a roman block print frieze ran above the picture rail, and various glass cases filled with special edition books framed the room. (of course!). It was a very nice place to be indeed. I talked about shadow books: about the process, materials, and about screens and the death of the book.

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Oh look that’s me at the front! My book wonderful arts instructor, Grendl Lofkst, took this picture from the back -it was quite the bibliophilic crowd.
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Some of my books -I always feel a bit strange about displaying my work like this, as it is intended to be played with, or as part of a workshop. After the talk I encouraged people to handle them.
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This woman got really into handling the book!
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This was the sample circuit that the woman in the picture above was playing with -and it is really addictive to play. Must make this into a book soon!
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The other speakers -it was a fun evening and great to meet other folks making books!

e-luminated books part 2

This weekend we ran part 2 of the e-luminated books workshop at San Francisco Center for the book. This part was focused on interactivity -embedding sensors and switches into books, as wells as designing programs for the Attiny85. It was a lot of fun and will be happening again in June! If you haven’t taken Part 1, not to worry we’ll be running another workshop in May too.

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Back from Bhutan

So I’ll have to admit it is actually going on 2 whole months since I arrived back from Bhutan, but I had such an inspiring time that I had to share the experience. I went to Bhutan to work on the first ever Bhutan International Festival (BhIF) to help install an interactive simulation of the molecular nano-world with a collective of artists and scientists I work with called Danceroom Spectroscopy (dS). dS was installed in a custom build geodesic dome, nestled in a park at the foothills of the Himalayas, in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan

It looked a little something like this:
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I lead workshops with the technology. We found out about BST (Bhutan Stretch Time) early on, and decided to make all our workshops impromptu or spontaneous rather than scheduled.
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School children playing. They are wearing traditional Bhutanese dress -a Gho for men and boys and Kira for women and girls. Traditional dress is worn at school, on national holidays, and by official workers.
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Children in Buddhist robes.
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Coronation Park -our home for a week.

I have worked on a few installation with the dS team, and I hadn’t experienced this level curiosity and commitment to learning about the system before. Participants were engaged in the experience for hours, sometimes even days, as they would come back to our dome again and again. I wrote a post about the trip for dS, and you can see this wonderful moment when 10 Assamese monks made an impromptu dance.

All *new* bingo design

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Update: we’ve remade the Arduino Error Bingo. Doesn’t it look fab? I made a few design changes that make it easier to use and more like the Arduino IDE, and also made some spaces for students to add errors that are not in the grid. Tried and tested by some very happy Arduino Error Champions.

DOWNLOAD the new version here and play error bingo today!

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Arduino Error Bingo

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Just getting round to posting about this wonderful teaching aid for programming. Arduino Error Bingo makes a game out of making errors in your code. What could be more fun than that? You can download the PDF here, and feel free to share. I made this with coworker Natalie Freed, and we used this in the Electronics and Computer Arts clases at Lick Wilmerding High School. We also made some cool badges for prizes.

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The mighty music muff

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Yes oh yes they are rainbow ear-muff-phones that you see. Oh the joy of joys it is wonderful to experience the soft and colourful sensation of rainbow yarn whilst grooving to your favorite tunes.

Rainbow yarn = 1 cheap plastic material = 0

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They took about 4 months to build (off and on). When I started I was only going to rainbow-fi the cord. I wanted them to match some speakers that I am also in the process of making. I used this tutorial to knit the cord. But, once I had rainbow-fied the cord, I couldn’t really go back, so decided to continue the whole way around. The phones and the strap were a bit more complex to knit and it took a few attempts and much unraveling to get right. Also, everything is knitted directly to the headphone housing -so there is no factory reset, unless you unravel the whole goddamn thing.

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I didn’t take many photos of the process, as it was quite complicated. I was freestyle-experimenting with the pattern, and usually doing so late at night in my bed -not ideal for pictures! BUT, if you are interested please get in touch and I am very happy to share the process in writing -let there be more colourful knitted electronics!

Update: I made an instructables for this so you can make your own yarn bombed headphones. (Hours of joy or hours of hard labor? You decide.)

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yarn on – yarn off – yarn on – yarn off – yarn on – yarn off – yarn on – yarn off – yarn on – yarn off – yarn on – yarn off – yarn on – yarn off – yarn on – yarn off – yarn on – yarn off – yarn on – yarn off – yarn on – yarn off – yarn on – yarn off – yarn on – yarn off –