Tag Archives: fashion

Last Thoughts on Bubble Pop Electric

17 Dec

Bubble Pop Electric is done for the semester (at least for class!).  After prototyping our suit with a Picoboard, we made the decision to re-implement our design using a Lilypad Arduino and conductive thread.  This was a major decision (and risk) for our group, but in the end we felt it was the most appropriate course for our design.  Because we wanted to make a wearable musical suit, it seemed only natural that we use sewable hardware!

Below is an information flow diagram of our system.  Sensor data from potentiometers and force sensors (in the bubbles) is processed by the Lilypad Arduino.  The Arduino’s program then passes along the sensor data to our Python program via Bluetooth and lights up our LEDs appropriately.  The Python program processes the sensor data and sets our music channels to the correct volumes.

We use the Arduino programming environment to program our Lilypad, and Python to write our music processing code. We’re also using the Python module PyMedia, which allows us to play multiple wav files at once all while controlling the volume (and even rate) of the various sound channels.

Much progress has been made for Bubble Pop Electric, but there is still much more work to do!  Perhaps our biggest accomplishment has been completing our sewn circuit.  Our suit currently has a LilyPad arduino connected to 3 AAs batteries for power (which can be disconnected), one potentiometer, and our entire LED matrix.  We have successfully illuminated our matrix, though some LED connections need to be reinforced with more conductive thread.  We’ve also successfully viewed our potentiometer data via the Arduino’s serial window.

We still need to do several things in order to have a completely working prototype.  First of all, we need to make sure our LEDs and potentiometers are working exactly as intended.  Secondly, we need to sew in our Bluetooth chip, which must be unpluggable so that we can continue to reprogram our Lilypad when needed.  We have tested sending data via Bluetooth using a separate Lilypad and alligator clips, but we need to test the Bluetooth chip with our actual suit.  After we’re able to control music with one bubble, the other two bubbles will be sewn in.

After we’ve successfully tested and debugged our complete suit, we’d love to add a surface mount LED mask, inspired by Soomi Park’s LED false eyelashes.

Here is a video of our Arduino-controlled LEDs:

And here’s Ali wearing the suit for the first time:

Your personal blog should be updated with details about the design and implementation of your project. You should elaborate on your part in the design and implementation of your project. You are also encourage to reflect back on the ideas and concepts we discussed in this course.

Bubble Pop Electric was a very collaborative effort – Lorraine, Ali, and I all contributed unique backgrounds and ideas to our project’s design.  My love of sensors and actuators had some influence in our design, while Ali’s knowledge of user interaction made our suit easy-to-use.  Lorraine’s art and music background helped make BPE beautiful and provided a performer’s perspective.  Even though we all had our areas of expertise, we managed to synthesize our ideas into one cohesive creation!

Because I had the most experience with electronics, I did a lot of research and programming with our microcontrollers, as well as with our Bluetooth chip.  I implemented our initial design with the LogoChip – allowing it to communicate wirelessly with a Python program that used PyMedia to play sound clips.   After we made the decision to port our design to the Lilypad Arduino, I did research and experiments to learn how to program the new chip, as well as how to layout our circuit.  I read a lot of Leah Buechley’s documentation for using the Lilypad and for making wearable electronics.  This research taught us how to make sewable LED beads and gave a lot of advice on sewing circuits in general.  Because we wanted to sew so many LEDs onto our suit, I had to ensure that we would be able to supply enough current, leading us to use 3 AAA batteries as our power supply.  I also helped make the decision to create an LED matrix so that we could have more LEDs with fewer Arduino pins!

Overall, I had a great time working with Ali and Lorraine on our project.  I learned how to dream big, but simplify when needed.  I learned how to prototype and ask for outside feedback in order to find flaws that may not be obvious to me as a designer of our system.  I’m happy with how things turned out, and hope we can improve the suit even more!

Fluid Fashion with Lucy McRae

16 Dec

In her new video, Indestructible, Robyn wears a dynamic tube outfit, filled with moving, multi-color liquid.  It’s absolutely mesmerizing to watch and really gives off the impression that it’s an actual living, almost sentient piece of clothing.  In the following video, Lucy McRae, the artist behind the outfit, describes her inspiration behind the tubes and how she orchestrated this complex piece of fluid fashion.

Lucy discussed how she very much wanted to make a dynamic, steam and water powered construction.  For her first prototype, she wrapped a friend in tubing – putting one end of the tube in a water-filled bucket and the other end in her friend’s mouth.  Lucy’s friend powered the outfit by sucking and blowing on the tube.

For Robyn’s video, this process was automated using two pumps, the “beast” and the “baby”.  The beast powered over 1 km of tubing and sourced liquid from six separate buckets of water – all in different colors.  These larger, garden hose-size tubes connected to smaller tube’s on Robyn’s body.  The result was a non-traditional textile with a remarkably ambiently alive property.

In my 3-D design course (which classmates Ali McKenna and Taili Feng are also in), Taili and her partner, Nuha, created a sculpture using similar materials.  They decided to explore the concept of the circulatory system, and in particular, how it delineates an organism’s form, even in the absence of structural materials like bones.  Wrapped around a chicken wire shape, Taili and Nuha pumped green and purple liquid from buckets contained in the sculpture to the various tubes outlining the shape.

Lucy McRae has worked on many other projects – she even served as an advisor for Philip’s Bubelle dress!  This dress, which changes according to the wearer’s emotions, was a huge inspiration for Bubble Pop Electric (it even looks a bit like a bubble, no?).  It’s very exciting to see more work from one of the artists that worked on this project.

Lucy other creations can be seen on her website. Check them out!

Bright Eyes

1 Dec

Bubble Pop Electric is all about LEDs.  We love them, of course, so when we saw Soomi Park’s LED eyelashes, it was an exciting moment.

Soomi’s LED eyelashes, applied on the bottom of the eye, are designed to make her eyes look bigger.  The design sketches in her video cite the “big eye obsession” as a source of inspiration.  While I’m not sure how I feel about the implications of what her eyelashes are trying to address, I do think they’re beautiful.  Looking like a barely-human android, Soomi’s video shows her wandering the streets of Korea.  She tilts her head up and down to trigger a mercury switch hidden in her hair to turn on the lashes.  When she blinks, the switch also triggered, and the LEDs pulse in time with her eyes.

In Soomi’s design, a thin wire connects the LEDs to the mercury switch and battery held in an earphone.  It’s for the most part very subtle, although the earphone containing the battery and switch might make some look like a telemarketer.  All in all, Soomi’s eyelashes lend the wearer an unearthly, alien beauty.  It gives a new meaning to having “bright eyes”.

Bubble Pop Electric would love to have some facial LED appliques.  Maybe a starburst pattern on one eye, a la Ke$sha.  Or if we’re feeling ambitious, an LED superhero mask!  Instead of actual wire, we could even experiment with using conductive paint.  Our professor, Orit, mentioned the possibility of conductive make-up.  We’d need to make sure the make-up was sweat-free, but how cool would it be to wear LEDs instead of rhinestones?  I’m on board…

Project updates

19 Oct

After getting some feedback in class last Friday, Bubble Pop Electric has made many changes to our proposed design!

Our biggest criticisms were:

1)  Our hat is pointless and probably awkward to wear.

2)  We have some interaction issues to sort out with grabbing bubbles and moving them from the “inactive” to the “active” space (and for that matter, what IS the active space exactly…do we keep the sash?).

3)  Our LED lighting doesn’t seem well integrated into the rest of the system and could be enhanced.

4)  Some elements of control (like the stretchy suit whammy bar) may cause unintentional changes to the music during normal body movement.

After meeting last night, we’ve overhauled our design to address these concerns and make our suit a more intuitive, easy-to-use outfit.  Ali came up with the idea of punting “active spaces” and “inactive spaces” entirely.  Since we already have a mechanism to turn off and turn on each individual bubble by tapping it, why would we have to move selected bubbles to an active space during performance?  We decided it’s much simpler for the bubbles to remain on the suit and allow the user to simply turn on which bubbles she wants to use.

We also decided to organize the bubbles in a more logical manner to help the user remember which bubble corresponds to which sound clip.  In addition to color-coding the bubbles by song, all bubbles containing clips from the same song will be placed on the same quadrant of the body.

To address the issue of the user involuntary modifying the song, we’ve decided to add a belt with two sliders to control the sensitivity of the whammy bar conductive suit and the beat/bass shoes.  That way, the user can “turn down” her suit if it’s annoyingly sensitive to her movements.

To incorporate more of a display and reduce the awkward factor, we’ve eliminated our functional hat (though we may still have a small decorative headband) and have designed an LED display for the torso of the suit.  The LED display will be a matrix of LEDs under some sort of diffuse material. We hope that this display can be used to show a few simple animations, etc., some of which coordinate with the music being played. Instead of being just a screen (too Teletubby-like), the display matrix will be in the shape of a cool jazzy pattern that Ali thinks looks like a  Jem costume.  Our inspiration for this display came directly from the 15,000 LED dress by Moritz Waldemeyer and Hussein Chalayan (see below).  This design duo has already created LED outfits for many performers, including U2, Rihanna, and Ok Go!

And here’s a sketch of our updated design (drawn by Lorraine):