E-Textiles Workshop at SparkFun

Last weekend I traveled to Boulder, Colorado to attend the ‘Where Electronics Meets Textiles‘ workshop hosted by SparkFun Electronics and taught by Lynne Bruning and Troy Nachtigall. I jumped at the chance to learn from these two leaders in e-textiles and had an amazing weekend playing with LilyPad and hanging out with the assortment of artists, programmers, and makers that had traveled from across the country to attend.

I was very excited to visit SparkFun HQ! Thanks to Inga Marie Carmel for capturing the moment.

A little more about the instructors from the SparkFun blog:

Troy Nachtigall will be visiting us from Florence, Italy to share his expertise in E-Textiles. He is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology and has worked with EU based Plug and Wear to develop E-Textile sensors, fabrics and wearable computing projects. Troy teaches courses in Fashion and Technology at the University IUAV of Venice, University Sapienza of Roma, the Institute of European Design, and ISIA Firenze.

Lynne Bruning bases her textile, wearable art, and adaptive technology studio in Denver, Colorado. She will share her talents on integrating computer hardware into fashionable E-Textiles and clothing while sharing with you her love of adaptive technology and E-Textile developments for the medical industry.

For a full breakdown of the curriculum/schedule you can check out this PDF.
Saturday was an introduction to wearable technology with Lynne and a basic intro to programming from Troy. We each received a LilyPad kit and some cool knitted sensors from Plug and Wear to use with some simple Arduino code.

Troy shows us the textile sensors from Plug and Wear (image via Inga Marie Carmel)

Plug and Wear’s textile button sensor

In the afternoon, Nwanua Elumeze of Aniomagic gave a great presentation on his products and the philosophy behind them. We got to see a demonstration of Aniomagic’s schemer board, which is a microcontroller programmed through a web interface and sends the code via light pulses on a computer screen or iPhone.

Nwanua demonstrates programming a Schemer through a web browser – it can even work on a projector!

Sunday morning we worked on more LilyPad programming, and then spent the afternoon creating our own unique e-textile projects. I brought along a vest with some snowflake decals that I was going to make light up using a zipper sensor as a switch. I drafted out my pattern/traces and started hooking things up to the LilyPad. It is rare that I am in a room full of people with the same interests and working on e-textile projects so I decided to finish my vest at home and wander around seeing what everyone was working on and discussing projects. There were so many talented people there, it was a wonderful opportunity to chat with everyone as they worked.

Classmate Liz Baumann also wrote up a blog post about her experiences in the workshop.

Working on my vest (image via Inga Marie Carmel)

Check out some more pictures of the workshop in our Flickr Pool

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