Social Wearables: Kinetic Body Extensions & Body Sensing Part I

June 23, 2018 Social Wearables

Today’s a two part blog covering body extension & body sensing with homemade sensors. On Monday, we tried our hands at paper folding, which while frustrating, was actually a lot of fun. After getting a working paper folded prototype, Suzanne and I tried to hook it up to a servo motor and see what we could come up with. After our servo finished having a mind of it’s own, we managed to get a shape that was interesting by combining two paper folded objects to a piece of wire, attaching it to a servo, and taping the free end to the table.

The struggle was trying to figure out how to make it wearable. As it flexed open and closed, it reminded me of a tendon flexing, which led to trying to figure out if I could attach the servo to my shoulder, and the end to my wrist. However, the mechanics of getting it to work so that the wire didn’t keep hitting me in the head, led to holding the servo in one hand, and clothe pining the free end to my shoulder. Initially, the idea was to use a velcro setup to wrap it around the wearer’s wrist. Once we started working with it, we realized that the arm would then move in the opposite direction than we wanted it to move. I think that perhaps working with a less complicated shape would’ve worked better as a first foray into making it wearable.

Wednesday, we had our first explorations on how to sense the body. Making our own force resistant sensors with velostat and a few other materials was both easy and fun. Its easy to see how these sensors can be expanded into other applications, not to mention the ability to keep costs down for rapid prototyping.

After making our sensors, the next step was to hook them up to an arduino to see if we could get readings off of them, and use them to control an led.

The first test was to see if I could print the readings from the sensor to the serial monitor.

IMG_1779 from Kellee Massey on Vimeo.

Then to control the LED.

IMG_1787 2 from Kellee Massey on Vimeo.

Once the sensor was working with the LED, I switched it out for a flex sensor, that could be worn a little easier.

IMG_1789 from Kellee Massey on Vimeo.

Initially, I’d thought to attach it to a glove to turn off the LED when the wrist was bent. What I found is that while it works, it sometimes requires a sharp bend to cleanly turn off the LED. I’m not sure if its because of the wire wrapping, or if its because I’m using gaffers tape to attach it to my hand. I might get a cleaner result if its attached to an article of clothing.

7A7A2798 from Kellee Massey on Vimeo.