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Net Gadgeteer Workshop at Pervasive 2012

I attended the NET Gadgeteer Hack-Fest at  Pervasive 2012 held in Newcastle last week which was a really great workshop. It demonstrated the ease of quick prototyping with Gadgeteer modules connected with small ribbon cables… no soldering involved!!! The brief was to produce an artefact which could be quickly prototyped with the NET Gadgeteer modules and installed at the conference venue on the same day. I  developed an interactive installation piece with fellow PhD candidate Martijn ten Bhömer , we had a great time throwing together an artefact in the space of a few hours with the building materials provided by the Culture Lab in Newcastle and modules provided by Microsoft. We used an accelerometer, several multi-coloured LED’s and a webcam connected to the main board.  We programmed (my programming is a bit scary so….Martijn did most of the code) so that when conference delegates played with the coloured hanging mobiles, the camera took snapshot images of the participants. Images of the playing action of the hands, integrated with changing coloured lights were displayed onto a big screen.  The intention was that the images would be an abstract collage of colours and movement of the participants hands, however in situe the images displayed were more hazy and abstract than originally intended. Here is our contribution to hacking the Pervasive 2012 Conference titled “Motion Lights”.

Although I found NET Gadgeteer great and quick to prototype, the negative side is that I use a Mac and I am comfortable with Arduino. I am not sure if using Visual Studio will work efficiently as it can only function if you use a platform enabling Microsoft to run inside the Mac ie:  by creating a Microsoft virtual machine.  I will look into this if I decide to seriously use it.  I think I still need a little more persuading, especially as the audio functions on the only sound  module are really limited at this moment in time. Having said that, Microsoft and the developers are open to suggestions for developing new and better modules.

ISWC 2012

I attended the ISWC 2012 Doctoral Consortium yesterday where I met a diverse group of PhD researchers investigating a wide range of subjects within the wearable technology sector.  The research ranged from weaving fabrics with conductive yarns with embedded electronic components, to measuring errors in sensors embedded on garments.  My presentation “The Embodied Feminine and the Sensory Self”  discussed integrating body issue theories such as Social Comparison Theory, Self Schema Theory and Body Image Schemata into interactive installations went well. It can be seen here  I was the only PhD participant undertaking a full creative practice PhD and many of the other studies were predominately technical or scientific. I had anticipated at least several other similar creative practice PhD studies which led me to question why there were so few design led and examples of wearables in clothing. My interpretation of wearable, which is undeniably informed by my fashion design background is that technology is embedded within clothing  and that technology is worn on the body. I found myself asking the same question several times throughout the conference as many papers and presentations focused on the smart phone as a wearable. Whilst I appreciate the value of the extensive data which can be extracted and used in some way from smart phones, to me the phone is an accessory or gadget… as to date it is not worn on the body unless you use the bluetooth earpiece, which is rarely the case with users.

I had the opportunity to display a poster at the main event so that was good exposure for my work here it is:

 

The demo and design exhibition was interesting and I will be submitting my design work to the next ISWC 2013.

Here are some pictures of other designers at the design exhibition: Flutter by Halley P. Profita, Nicholas Farrow, Nikolaus Correll. Solar Family by Silvia Guttmann, Sara Lopez, Dziyana Zhyhar.  Context aware signal glove for bicycle and motorcycle riders by Tony Carton. Twinkle Tartiflette and Don’t Break My Heart by Rain Ashford.

So in conclusion, my experience of attending and participating in the conference highlighted that I would like to see more design presentations/papers which focus on integrating technology into wearables as clothing in a social and cultural context. In the panel presentation Lucy Dunne also highlighted clothing as a main area of development of wearable technology, and referred to body image schemata and social issues relating to fashion and clothing which my study directly relates to, so I am  pleased that the next ISWC 2013 now includes in the category Applications of Wearables, music with wearable technology in a social and artistic context.

DIS 2012

I am currently in Newcastle attending the DIS 2012 conference. There are a number of interesting presentations discussing interactive design systems.  My favourite presentation so far is the Sonic Cradle which discussed a system where participants control audio through breathing whilst suspended in a hammock A very interesting concept, however I found the audio generated quite disturbing and as such reminded me of an anachoic chamber where one can hear bodily functions and ones breathing. Not sure that I would personally find it relaxing as a form of meditation, but that is probably because my experience in analysing audio frequencies from a production and technical aspect etc would possibly distract from the intended experience.  The system uses collated samples of meditative audio uploaded in Max/MSP and triggered  by a sensor band around the chest area of the body.

UWL Conference 2012

I have just come back from London after doing a presentation about my research at the UWL 2012 Annual Conference.   It was well received and a couple of really interesting questions which I will give some thought to.  One question from Lesley Stevenson at the University was should I incorporate other senses into my work ie: food as part of my installations?  Eating relates directly to issues concerning body image, so this is a very interesting point… I will see how my work evolves and whether it is a viable option. Another interesting point made from a fellow PhD candidate, was why am I using female mannequins with a perfect body size? Well this again is an interesting point as I consciously did not make a choice, it was an automatic subconscious selection to integrate standard sized mannequins.  Having thought about this, I feel that at this moment in time  representing the theory in relation to the practical elements of the study, the ideal size mannequin is more appropriate to represent what is expected and sold to us.  However, later on in my PhD I may introduce plus size models or mannequins, but this will come after reflecting on the next three pieces I am building.

 

 

ISWC 2012 Doctoral Consortium

I have been accepted onto the ISWC 2012 Doctoral Consortium this June so that is great news. I will no doubt gain some invaluable experience from industry professionals, artists and designers within the field of Fashion/Wearable technology. Super !! ISWC 2012

Conductive steel fibre… very interesting.

It is very difficult to find suppliers of conductive fabrics and threads in the UK, and I usually have to order from the states which is costly due to the postage rates. I have ordered some conductive stainless steel fibre from SparkFun which I am going to experiment with, and have found a great example of the potential application by Thomas Gerhardt who has created a Felt Resister by mixing the steel fibre with other fibres to create a felt.  Mixing the steel fibre with other fibres will obviously affect the conductivity so much experimentation will be required once it arrives…I am very excited about the possibilities of this fibre:0

Commencing new project as part of my PhD research called “The Speaking Frock”

I am currently working on testing some conductive fabrics to establish the best conductivity for my new project which is called “The Speaking Frock”  I will leave you to guess on that for the moment hopefully enticing you back for a further update.  There is some inspiration found here by the microsoft researchers exhibited at last years ISWC 2011 You are what you tweet – The Printing Dress