As the technology industry sets its sights on wearable computing, it’s time for fashion and luxury brands to take the space seriously, or risk losing highly lucrative real estate on the emerging battleground of the human body.
LONDON, United Kingdom — In recent weeks, there’s been a flurry of activity in the emerging market for wearable devices — personal accessories with embedded sensors, displays and other digital technology — a space many analysts believe is set to be the next major technology battleground and a $10 billion industry by 2016.
First, three of Silicon Valley’s most prominent venture capital funds, Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Andreessen Horowitz, announced an investment partnership targeting apps for Google Glass, the company’s Internet-enabled eyewear. Then, The Wall Street Journal reported that, according to Asian suppliers, Microsoft is working on a touch-enabled smartwatch to compete with Apple’s rumoured iWatch.
A day later, Google released guidelines for software developers building services, or “Glassware,” for Google Glass. And just yesterday, Jawbone, a company backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Khosla Ventures, among others, announced its acquisition of BodyMedia, a maker of wearable health tracking devices, for a sum that is reportedly over $100 million.
“We’re very bullish on the idea of ubiquitous computing, which has been an idea our industry has had since the late 1980s. The essential idea is that computers will be everywhere — they’ll be in your glasses, they’ll be part of your clothing,” Margit Wennmachers, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, told BoF. “We already see people bringing their smartphones with them everywhere and reaching for them first thing in the morning so we know people want a computer with them at all times — to help them figure what they need to do or where to go or how to get there or to learn more about the person they’re about to meet with. Google Glass is just a less obtrusive, always there, always on extension of that same idea.”
The eTextiles Summer Camp (eTextile-summercamp.org) is a five day event that brings together expert practitioners of eTextiles and Soft Circuitry in one place to share their knowledge and skills through hands-on workshops, and facilitate discussions around their practices. We are looking for makers, designers, engineers and artists, who work in the field of eTextiles and soft circuitry to participate.
The first Summer Camp was held in 2011 in Borås Sweden, with 20 experts (http://stdl.se/summercamp/). This year, we are planning the second edition of the eTextiles Summer Camp from 17th to 21st of July in Poncé sur le Loir, France, hosted by Paillard Centre d’Art Contemporain & Résidence d’Artistes (http://moulinsdepaillard.com/).
The E-textile Summer Camp’s 2013 theme will be “Soft + Slow Electronics”. Many of us as engineers, designers and artists are working with soft materials such as textiles and paper, exploring the potential of soft, malleable and flexible electronics. Our practices often involve techniques that require intensive hand work, often resulting in long production processes. Some of the techniques we employ are almost archaic, but because we see value in making our own materials in our own ways, old-fashioned and slow techniques often come into play. We propose to see these practices as “slow”, rather than “time consuming”.
In today’s society “slowness” has gained positive connotation and acknowledgement through movements like Slow Food, Slow Cities and Slow Design Principles. These movements not only embrace the amounts of physical time consumed in a process, but also the social and cultural impacts resulting from slow processes.
Knit Conductive Fabric – Silver 20cm square – This knit conductive fabric is 100% silver and super luxe! Use small pieces on the tips of gloves or in any soft circuit situation where you need a bit of stretch. This highly conductive fabric has a resistance of less than 1 ohm per foot in any direction across the textile. It can be used to make soft keypads and capacitive touch sensors, as well as soft “squeeze” switches. Great for use with FLORA.
We are used to controlling the world around us, to find the settings that suit us best. What if we had the same control over our senses? If we could adjust them in real time, what new experiences could this make possible? Eidos delivers two pieces of experimental equipment that let you selectively enhance your hearing and vision by activating your hidden powers of perception.
Joshua describes his artwork as “experiments in visual phenomena.” His work is a true blend of science and art, using the scientific method and forming hypotheses, which he then tests through experimentation.
His pitch for the Hardware Innovation Workshop is the The Pixeldelic Vest, a wearable display for performers, fashion designers, advertisers and more. The prototype includes 324 addressable LEDs controlled by a small microprocessor. The multicolored LED vest can display scrolling text and animations. It can even play low resolution video!
On Wednesday Becky Stern (Adafruit’s Director of Wearable Electronics) spoke at Eyebeam about wearable electronics/smart textiles. We both wore our FLORA sparkle skirts which where a big hit with the crowd.
The ribbon is approximately 21″/53cm long, and has 10 white LEDs spaced equally along the ribbon. You can cut the ribbon easily but you cannot solder to it so once it’s cut, it cannot be re-joined. The battery pack has a simple controller that switches between a few modes: all on, fast blink, slow blink, and a slow fade in and out. It is powered by and comes with 2 x 12mm coin cell batteries, but you can also get some more from us. We also have extra battery packs. It is possible to cut the ribbon in half and then snap another battery pack onto the second piece.
Powered by 2 x CR1220 batteries
Dimensions: 15.43mm / 0.6″ x 30.47mm / 1.2″ x 10.54mm / 0.4″
NEW PRODUCT – Litex Spare Battery Case – This is a little battery pack for our Litex LED ribbons. No LEDs are included, but the battery pack is very nice and you can cut the LED ribbon in half and then use the extra battery pack to power the excess.
Comes with two CR1220 batteries, we also carry extras if you need them!
Dimensions: 15.43 / 0.6″ x 30.47mm / 1.2″ x 10.54mm / 0.4″
Ever think your coat could guide you home? The easiest way to add location information to your wearable electronics project is with the Flora GPS. It’s part of the Adafruit Flora series of wearable electronics, designed specifically for use with the Flora main board. Installed on the PCB is the latest of our Ultimate GPS modules, a small, super-thin, low power GPS module with built in data-logging capability! This module’s easy to use, but extremely powerful. Check out our video on YouTube (please subscribe!) and Vimeo.
-165 dBm sensitivity, 10 Hz updates, 66 channels
Designed for wearable use with the Flora system
Only 20mA current draw
RTC battery-compatible – sew a battery on to create a atomic-precision real time clock
Internal patch antenna + u.FL connector for external active antenna
The breakout is built around the MTK3339 chipset, a no-nonsense, high-quality GPS module that can track up to 22 satellites on 66 channels, has an excellent high-sensitivity receiver (-165 dB tracking!), and a built in antenna. It can do up to 10 location updates a second for high speed, high sensitivity logging or tracking. Power usage is incredibly low, only 20 mA during navigation.
The module is kept small and simple, we have a ferrite bead, filter capacitor and red fix LED on board. The LED blinks at about 1Hz while it’s searching for satellites and blinks once every 15 seconds when a fix is found to conserve power. If you want to have an LED on all the time, we also provide the FIX signal out on a pin so you can put an external LED on.
Two features that really stand out about the MTK3339-based module is the external antenna functionality and the the built in data-logging capability. The module has a standard ceramic patch antenna that gives it -165 dB sensitivity, but when you want to have a bigger antenna, you can snap on any 3V active GPS antenna via the uFL connector. The module will automatically detect the active antenna and switch over! Most GPS antennas use SMA connectors so you may want to pick up one of our uFL to SMA adapters.
The other cool feature of the new MTK3339-based module (which we have tested with great success) is the built in datalogging ability. Since there is a microcontroller inside the module, with some empty FLASH memory, the newest firmware now allows sending commands to do internal logging to that FLASH. The only thing is that you do need to have the Flora mainboard send the “Start Logging” command. However, after that message is sent, the Flora can go to sleep and does not need to wake up to talk to the GPS anymore to reduce power consumption. The time, date, longitude, latitude, and height is logged every 15 seconds and only when there is a fix. The internal FLASH can store about 16 hours of data, it will automatically append data so you don’t have to worry about accidentally losing data if power is lost. It is not possible to change what is logged and how often, as its hardcoded into the module but we found that this arrangement covers many of the most common GPS datalogging requirements.
Comes with one fully assembled and tested module. If you’d like to back up the RTC for faster fix-recovery, pick up a sewable CR2032 holder & CR2032 battery and sew it so the + side connects to the VBAT pad and the – side connects to ground.
For the compass rose, I stitched the Adafruit neopixels together and hooked them up to the Adafruit Flora. Also connected to the Flora is a magnetometer/accelerometer. The magnetometer probably gave me the most grief. It turns out that if you want to use communications protocols (like I2C) on e-textiles, make sure the connection is SOLID! I became so frustrated with the magnetometer not talking to the Flora that I just soldered some wires instead.
Despite the frustrations, I’m pretty happy with how the bag turned out. This was also the first time using the Flora and I have to say, I love it! I can certainly tell that the folks at Adafruit put A LOT of thought into it. One little detail that made me really happy was strategically placing the SDA, SCL, power and ground pads so that you wouldn’t have to have any thread/wires cross. If you’ve been working with e-textiles for a while, you’ll know exactly what I mean! Seriously, Adafruit…thank you!!!
Could this be the chronometrist’s ultimate timepiece, the peak of horological haute couture? British bespoke movement maker Hoptroff today claimed to have produced the world’s first personal chronometer with an on board atomic clock.
Inside the case, Hoptroff has crammed a lithium-polymer battery fed through a micro USB port. It has also built in a Bluetooth radio, plus humidity, temperature and pressure sensors, and even a magnetometer – all of which help drive the 28 dials that make up the watch’s face.