Posts Tagged ‘Clothing’
There’s no denying that toting a 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro will help you attract attention to discerning patrons at the neighborhood coffee bar. However exactly what if you’re trying to find something a bit more obvious? Some method to actually use your Apple loyalty on your sleeve?
Pocket-lint points us to this funny garments catalog from the deepest, darkest depths of the ’80s, found by one intrepid imgur individual last year. Apple-branded ball caps? Examine. Teal jumpsuits? Check. Popped collars and sunglasses? Double-check. For younger supporters, there’s even a little ones’ range, featuring miniature models of the grown-up attire.
Unfortunately, the gear is not accessible, however we’re hoping for a 2012 follow-up in classic hipster design– even more cardigans and V-necks …
The Short Version
In the mad rush to push out more and more Android slate products, Amazon and Barnes & Noble are like a calm port in the storm. Their devices are touted as ereaders but, after a bit of digging, you find that they are now considerably more interesting – and compelling – as tablet products for an entry level market. They are not threatening nor are they particularly difficult to grasp. In short, they are the perfect neophyte’s tablet, a cross between the simplicity of an e-ink ereader and a fully-featured mobile device. It’s good enough at both that people buying it for one purpose will be pleased with the device’s other strengths; depending on what you want, it’s either an Android slate in ereader’s clothing or vice versa.
Amazon’s new Fire, which we’ll review shortly, takes a certain tack – low-priced, cloud oriented content consumption – while the Nook Tablet takes a decidedly different one. Priced at $ 249 – still cheaper than even the least-outfitted Android tablet – and aimed at a slightly more techie audience, the Nook Tablet is an ereader first and a tablet second.
As it stands, the Nook Tablet is an impressive bit of machinery. It is a solid slab of electronics designed to do a few things exceedingly well and – sadly – a few things quite poorly. As a color, touchscreen ereader it is one of the best and, for those with an adventurous bent, I can imagine this becoming a useful media and app device.
The Nook Tablet is a tablet for everyone. It is solid, easy to use, and most of Android’s rough edges have been burred off. Although there are some odd UI choices and frustrations, everything is in its right place. It is, in short, a perfectly slimmed down Android tablet masquerading as an ereader – something many will prefer over Kindle Fire’s obviously service-oriented approach.
- 7-inch color display
- MicroSD card slot for storage
- Video and audio playback
- 1GHz TI OMAP4 (dual-core) processor with 1GB RAM
- MSRP: $ 249
- Light and portable
- Long battery life
- App sideloading is possible
- Odd storage usage leaves you with about 1GB of personal space
- No dedicated video player
- Some issues with PDF display
What Is It?
The device has a 7-inch touchscreen that is surprisingly bright and readable. The front panel is grey plastic and the edge of the device is made of silver plastic. There is a small notch taken out of the lower left corner, something that I assume is useful of you wish to attach a lanyard to this thing. The back is the most pleasant aspect of the device. The soft touch plastic feels quite a bit like soft leather or suede.
There are exactly four buttons – a central home button, shaped like the Nook N, a power button on the upper left and two volume or control buttons on the right. There is a microUSB port at the bottom and a small flap that pops up near the notch where you can fit a microSD card. There is a speaker grille at the bottom and a small hole for a microphone at the top. Finally, there is a headphone jack at the top.
To power it on you simply hold down the power button. It boots in about a minute and starts back up in about 2 seconds. There are small audio cues for the various functions, including plugging into the USB cable and unlocking and locking the device. These can be turned off.
There is no camera.
The Nook Tablet is a direct descendent of Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color. As the name states, it’s a tablet, but not in the PC sense. The branding and UI points to the more primordial view of “tablet,” which suggests that this device is more like a cuneiform tablet to an early scribe than anything Bill Gates held up as the future of computing in 2001. However, the use of the word “tablet” is important in marketing this device. At $ 249, it can be perceived as being far more expensive than the Kindle Fire (although it’s not) and by naming the “Tablet” rather than the “Slate” or the “Runik Booke,” B&N is ostensibly saying “This is a computing device that we made for readers.”
When you connect the device to a Mac or PC, the onboard storage appears. If you add a microSD card, this card also appears as a separate drive, something that could be confusing to new users. The device automatically sets up a certain number of folders for B&N use as well as your private use and it scans those folders each time you unplug the device.
The device comes with 13GB of space available but there is, as they say, a rub. As you see here, the “MyNOOK” disk appears to only have 1GB available. The rest of that space is taken up by the Nook software and content. Quoth the website:
1GB = 1 billion bytes. Actual formatted capacity may be less. Approximately 13GB available to store content, of which up to 12GB may be reserved for content purchased from the Barnes & Noble NOOK Store.7microSD™ or microSDHC™ memory cards sold separately. microSD and microSDHC are trademarks of SD-3C
This means you simply must install a MicroSD card, a prospect that many might find onerous. However, if you’re not planning on dragging MP4 movies onto this thing, you might be able to scrape by. If there is any major flaw in this device it is this odd problem of disk usage.
B&N will offer digital video rental and downloads “early next year” which is why this space has been roped off. The magazines and other rich content are apparently also large files, said a B&N spokesperson, so that space has been dedicated to “official” content rather than side-loaded ad hoc content.
The Nook Tablet UI is fairly straightforward. After sliding to unlock the main screen, you’re presented with a carousel of books and items you’ve recently used. You can drag these to the main screen much like apps in any Android phone and they remain persistent there. Along the bottom is a row of small icons – Books, Newsstand, Movies, Music, Apps – and there are small icons signifying the microSD card and the book you’ve just read. Up in the top corner of the home screen is the “More” menu that supplies possibly interesting items for your consumption.
The music player is nearly stock Android and the media player lumps photos and video into one app, a frustrating experience. However, everything else is fairly custom, from the epub/PDF reader to the app store.
Searching for apps is slightly frustrating. Because the Nook App Store is limited by B&N, looking for common apps like “Rockplayer” is almost impossible, returning instead a list of books with those words in the titles.
Browsing through the device is quick and clean. There is some of the old “Android lag” – pages move a bit too slowly, apps take a bit to spin up, but generally all of the reading experiences are more than adequate and the various apps available run as they would on any modern tablet.
The browser is just that – an Android browser with Flash Player 10.3.186.6 installed. I was able to browse TechCrunch in its full, Flash-enhanced glory while some sites exhibited some quirks associated with mobile browsers including failing to load backgrounds and defaulting to mobile versions of the site. The browser has a bookmarks feature as well as most visited and history tabs.
The device allows you to link your Facebook, Twitter, and Google accounts via the social settings tab. Facebook and Twitter allow for text sharing with the world at large while Google connectivity allows you to add your contacts as Nook friends. You can get recommendations from your friends using a feature called Nook friends, although this feature is somewhat muted in this version of the Nook software.
As I said before, this OS takes the edge off of Android but folks familiar with the OS will see most of the similarities. It is, to be clear, eminently usable and anyone – from an Android hacker to my mom – would be able to easily buy, read, and share books and some media.
First and foremost, this is an ereader. The screen is bright and crisp and when reading epub documents the formatting is unimpeachable. It is a backlit screen so outdoor reading is possible but not encouraged.
As a reader, the Nook Tablet works quite well. Books are as you’d expect and you can control the font size and orientation. Magazines really shine on this device. Issues of National Geographic and Food + Wine looked amazing on the bright, clear screen and the magazine reader was really quite nice – it could replace iOS’ newsstand for me if enough titles become available.
Comics appear just like magazines, with big, bright, and bold colors. If anything, the Nook excels at this sort of content.
Another fun feature is the built-in “read along” features for children’s books. I read a page of The Elephant Child into the device’s microphone and my kids can then pick my recording from an onscreen menu. The audio is actually recorded right onto the device and is available in M4A format for later download, which makes it useful for folks who might want to record junior reading a book.
When it comes to reading on this device the central question is whether you want the bright, bold colors of the Tablet or the muted – but more readable – e-ink display on the Nook or Kindle Touch devices. If you’re only reading on this thing, I wonder if you wouldn’t be better served by an e-ink device. However, the color screen adds considerable depth to the standard reading experience and has much to recommend it.
Video, Images, And Music
Now for the secondary functions. Barnes & Noble want this device to exist as an “HD media” player, which is a noble goal though, at 1024×600, B&N’s interpretation of “HD” differs considerably from the rest of the humanity’s. If by HD media they mean the ability to view videos on a fairly large, fairly bright screen, then why don’t they just say it?
Aside from this obviously malarkey, viewing videos on this is a dream and, coupled with an SD card and plenty of MPEG4 rendered content, you have something akin to what the iPod Touch was a few years ago – a capable device that you can take with you on the plane to watch a few movies.
Amazon’s Fire is all about the cloud. I’m pleased that this device is less about the cloud and more about content that is right on your device. Streaming movies is usually impossible on flights and in certain situations, sans Wi-Fi, so unless you plan on doing all of your watching at home there’s little to be said about files in the ether. Granted, both the Kindle and Nook have plenty of storage for downloaded content, but Amazon’s is a bit more tied into their own store than I particularly like.
If you must use the cloud, the Nook Tablet supports Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Showtime and should support other apps down the line. For music you have Pandora, Rhapsody, and Grooveshark although I was wildly sad to find Rdio and Spotify missing (although I did find a book called Spotify For Dummies, which shows you the problem with a unified book/app search).
It’s too soon to assess battery life but in my time with the device I didn’t notice much of a drain while watching video vs. simple reading.
The onboard speaker is more than sufficient in a small, quiet room but you wouldn’t want to be stuck listening to it for long.
Who Is It For?
So who wants this thing? Well, anyone who has used a Nook before, prefers Barnes & Noble over Amazon, and is looking for a device to partake in simple content consumption.
The Nook Tablet isn’t for everyone, however. If you are, for example, a big reader and are simply looking for something to stuff into a briefcase for a long plane ride, I think you will be better served by a device like the Nook Simple Touch or Kindle Touch. iPad owners will probably find much of the functionality duplicated here although the size and screen are a bit more manageable than the iPad’s.
If you’re looking for a less expensive but carefully curated media experience – with the backing of Barnes & Noble – this is probably the device for you. With the arrival of video rentals and downloads as well as the music apps, you’ve got an ereader with extras.
As a bonus, the Nook Color – and, eventually, the Nook Tablet – has a very rich modding community around it. Many of the limitations I mentioned above are already being circumvented and it’s only a matter of time before this device begins running modded firmware. Like all Android devices, there is more than meets the eye.
As I said before, the Nook Tablet is an ereader with extras. You’re looking at a nice media device that also displays books. It has a few near-fatal flaws, but those can be remedied by the tech-savvy and ignored by everyone else. As it stands it is a strong and impressive improvement to the underpowered Nook Color and it is probably one of the better Android tablets I’ve used. Whether you go Nook or Kindle is actually a matter of preference for the parent companies as the hardware is nearly identical and most ways and if you already have a great deal invested in B&N content, this is a worthy and exciting upgrade to anything you’ve used in that family thus far.
Antennas are a bit like like underwear. Everybody needs them, but you generally want to conceal them, and when you have troubles with them, it gets embarrassing. Ever since we lost the pull-out and nub antennas of yesteryear on our phones and radios, the antenna has been more and more integrated with the designs of devices, but sometimes it isn’t practical to do so.
Take our clothing, for instance. Generally, getting antennas to play nice with bending and reshaping has led to poor performance (and then there are these things). But work being done at Ohio State University might have taken the next big step towards creating a sweater transmitter.
They used a thin, flexible plastic substrate and etched brass onto it, forming a sort of lightweight antenna thread. They then wove this thread into four areas of a vest: front, back, and both shoulders. A controller about the size of a deck of cards was mounted on a belt. This device monitors the signal of each antenna and switches between them on the fly in order to keep those bars up. In tests, it performed far better than existing whip-style antennas. Most importantly, it allowed reliable communication regardless of the direction the person was facing.
It’s not quite ready for deployment to Banana Republic just yet, but there are plenty of applications. ChiChih Chen, one of the researchers, says: “Our primary goal is to improve communications reliability and the mobility of the soldiers, but the same technology could work for police officers, fire fighters, astronauts – anybody who needs to keep their hands free for important work.” Good signal can mean the difference between a good copy and a bad copy when a building is coming down, and a smaller device footprint means one more magazine or one more tool a soldier or firefighter can carry. I’m thinking this could be useful for espionage and police work, though. No more sticking wires to the undercover guy’s chest.
It isn’t cheap: right now the tech costs around $ 200 per person to implement, which is probably out of NASA’s budget. The researchers believe they can bring the price down, and eventually integrate the antennas with normal clothes for safety purposes.
Inhabitat’s Week in Green: IKEA’s massive solar array, climate-controlled clothing and ultra-green yachts
The summer sun supercharged green technology this week as Inhabitat reported that IKEA flipped the switch on a massive 65,000 square foot solar array and designer Markus Kayser unveiled an awesome self-sufficient solar-powered laser cutter. We also spotted a clever off-grid Tropicana billboard that is juiced by oranges, and we learned about a new piezoelectric film that could lead to laptops powered by typing. Energy-generating architecture also made headlines as SMIT announced plans to roll out their Solar Ivy system on several buildings and one designer unveiled plans for a green energy island large enough to power Copenhagen.
Green transportation also reached for the sky this week as the sun-powered Solar Impulse airplane made its public debut at the Paris Air Show and EADS unveiled plans for an innovative all-electric commercial aircraft. Efficient autos also hit the streets as the Nissan Leaf became the first electric car to tackle Pike’s Peak, and we learned that Porsche is working on a new breed of cars that are able to drive themselves. If pedal-powered transportation is more your speed you won’t want to miss this beautiful kinetic energy-storing Potenza vehicle, and we were wowed by the solar panel-clad Emax Excalibur hybrid yacht.
In other news, we shined a light on green consumer electronics this week as we brought you a lunar LED light modeled after the moon and Peter Rojas explained how wasteful it is to keep gadgets chargers plugged in as part of our Ask a Tech Geek column. We also shared a low-tech tablet that’s perfect for kids, and we showcased a new type of climate-controlled clothing that beats the summer heat. Finally, we were excited to see Sprint launch a contest where you can recycle your old cell to score a Vespa scooter and an eco smartphone, and we brought you seven sustainable designs for a greener Fourth of July.
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Now, you could of course always get promotional shirts and stuff with Solid Snake (or whoever he is) on them — I vaguely remember something like that for the original NES game. But now, my friend, now you can get Metal Gear inspired clothing. Like, clothing the guys in the games might have worn. This just saved me a lot of work on my “Metal Gear Throwaway Enemy” cosplay project.
I’m not really loving the shirt with the diagonal pockets, but the raincoat looks all right (if you’re into that) and the grey FOXHOUND shirt is actually pretty understated and attractive. The good part is most people would probably just think it’s for some obscure band or something. Only the truly nerdy will know how much of a nerd you are. That’s the best kind of nerdy clothing (I have a great N.E.R.V. shirt that fills this role).
All this gear is actually based on only the Peace Walker game, which I haven’t played, but I supposed if it takes off they’ll expand to other games. Probably not Snake Eater, though, we all know where to get camo if we need it.
Check out the line over at Silicon Era. It’ll be available online starting April 11th – no word on pricing or whether it’ll be out here in the states. My guess? You’ll have to import.
Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week’s most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us — it’s the Week in Green.
This week saw several amazing feats of aeronautics as we showcased the world’s first continuous flight of a human-powered ornithopter and the sun-powered Solar Impulse plane embarked upon an incredible voyage across Switzerland. We also watched transportation take off as BMW unveiled a zippy new electric scooter, Sanitov launched a GPS enabled cargo tricycle in London, and this week’s Green Overdrive show took us off-roading on a souped-up e-bike!
Renewable energy tech also energized the globe as several countries in Central America launched plans to tap volcanoes for power and China developed the world’s first directly solar-powered air conditioning unit. Energy storage also got a big boost as Stanford researchers unveiled a new type of bendable battery made out of paper – just the thing to power the flexible e-readers of the future.
In other news, this week we brought you exclusive coverage of the greatest green designs from this year’s London Design Festival and we showcased the latest in wearable tech – instant spray-on clothing in a can! Finally, we tackled an issue that has plagued tech junkies forever – those impossible-to-open clamshell plastic packages.
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Someone with a better grasp of biochemistry is going to have to suss this one out, but it’s interesting even to a chump like me. It seems that researchers are using a custom virus as a biotemplate (?!) for a new type of battery structure that would allow the charged material to be woven into clothing or other materials.
It’s really, really not clear what’s going on here but if their tests bear fruit, you might soon be changing your shirt when it runs out of juice. Of course the military gets all the cool toys first, so we’ll have to wait our turn.
Props to CrunchGear
Artist's impression of the finished bed
I wonder if there is a mathematical formula describing the rate at which children accumulate toys and junk? It seems to grow at an exponential rate round here and when you factor in a small house and bedroom, you soon end up exploding at the seems.
Our little one is fast growing out of her clothes too, necessitating the need for new, and larger, clothing which obviously occupies more volume too. The cot bed is reaching the end of its usable life, the old crib is bulging with soft toys and the stopgap toy chest is falling apart from being overfilled. Something needs to be done, and quickly.
Here on GeekDad, we’ve featured a great way to hack an Ikea bed into something more usable and at least one reader followed the idea, but this time I’ve decided that a cabin style bed is the way forward. Unfortunately, after a great deal of research, I’ve concluded that none of the ones currently on the market tick all the required boxes. Which means it’s time to dust off the power tools and build our own. Woo-hoo!
The first step was to decide the storage options. We’ve ended up going with various drawers from an Italian company called Lazzari – they are available from Colours Ltd and The Great Little Trading Co. here in the UK. They are much more durable than other soft options around, the coated nylon is washable and they’re available is lots of bright colours and patterns. We considered the hard plastic crates, but they’re not as pretty and have a tendency to crack in my experience.
The first support will hold 12 of the larger drawers, and now I know their sizes, all the measurements for the bed flow can from there. The second support includes a hanging rail for dressing up costumes and larger spaces to hold shoes and Lego crates.
One element that I’ve borrowed from an existing bed is the steps. Rather than just having a ladder to reach the lofty sleeping area, I’ve made six large steps at one end of the bed, each one containing another storage drawer. The bed section itself is sized to hold a full size single mattress as I want this bed to last as long as possible, until she moves out hopefully!
I’m also planning to use some of the offcuts to make little shelves and storage cubes to be placed around the bed and possibly a fold down desk to span the space between the two supports underneath, but I won’t know for sure how they’ll work until everything is assembled later.
After receiving complaints about the ad-hoc nature of my last build (a treehouse), this time around I’ve been a but more precise with my plans. No more making it up as I go along. So the initial pencil sketches of the plans were transferred into Illustrator on my mac and laid out with precise measurements. Using Illustrator’s built in 3D tools I was able to create a basic isometric render of the design to help us visualise the finished product.
The biggest advantage of doing it this way was that I could lay the individual pieces out onto scaled 8′x4′ sheets of MDF (I went with 15mm thick sheets) and rearrange them to make the best use of the sheets with minimal waste – I got it down to 10 sheets in the end. Each ‘module’ of the plans is colour coded so I could easily see which piece goes where.
I then printed out these scale plans and took them down to my local timber yard, as they have a large scale saw for cutting sheet materials, knowing exactly the sizes I needed and where the first cut should be. This is much easier for two reasons; you don’t have to transport the full sized sheets (which can be pretty heavy) and you get perfect, straight edges – something that’s pretty much impossible to achieve at home, unless you’re lucky enough to have a table saw in your workshop of course. Obviously, you’ll need to cut the curved edges for yourself.
As each piece came off the saw I checked the size and wrote it on the back, then coded them with a letter for easy identification later.
After three trips for the MDF (I drive a Beetle, so there’s not much room inside) all the materials are ready to go. The last sheet I had to get delivered – it was the sheet for the steps and they wouldn’t let me jigsaw the funny cut in store!
I’ve treated myself to a new electric sander and new blades for the jigsaw, a fresh set of brushes and gloss mini rollers. Time to get cracking, look out for part two to see how the assembly goes…
And, if you fancy having a go at building one for your own little geek, please feel free to download my plans and use them. Follow me on twitter @geekDadNath and let me know if you’re gonna have a go!
The plans are provided as a courtesy and for legal reasons I have to say that neither myself, GeekDad, Wired nor Conde Nast can take any responsibility for their accuracy or structural integrity and if you choose to use them, you do so of your own free will and it is up to you to ensure their proper construction.
Read more here:
A GeekDad Builds A Cabin Bed
The clothing of the future could be more than just fashion. MIT researchers are working to develop fibers that can hear and produce sound, and someday those could take the form of wearable electronics.
“The ancients used clothes for the same reason that we do, which is thermal insulation and aesthetics,” Yoel Fink, associate professor of materials science and principal investigator at MIT’s Research Lab of Electronics, told Wired.com. “What we have done is start thinking how fibers go beyond that and change their properties.”
Fink and his team hope their latest research will result in fibers that can be fashioned into clothes capable of capturing speech, textiles that can measure blood flow in the capillaries or nets that can double as sound sensors.
“It’s a very significant breakthrough on the level of the material used and the structure that was fabricated,” says Ayman Abouraddy, a professor at the College of Optics & Photonics in the University of Central Florida.
“Line a whole wall with these fibers and you could get a very interesting surround-sound system,”Â says Abouraddy, who isn’t involved in the research.
Fibers, whether they are for clothing or telecommunications, have always been static, incapable of doing more than one thing: Hold fabric together, or transmit optical signals, for instance. The key to electronic textiles is fiber that can change its properties over a wide range of frequencies, says Fink.
The acoustic fibers have been created from a plastic called polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) that’s commonly used in microphones. The researchers tweaked the plastic to ensure its molecules are lopsided so all the fluorine atoms line up on one side and hydrogen atoms on the other. This asymmetry of the molecules makes the plastic piezoelectric.
Piezoelectricity is the key property here that allows the fibers to react to a range of frequencies, giving them the ability to function as both a microphone and a speaker.
“The important aspect of it is maintaining the crystalline form in the fiber,” says Abouraddy. “Usually the crystal melts if it is heated sufficiently, which happens when the fibers are being manufactured, but theÂ new technique seems to have solved that problem.”
To manufacture the fibers, the piezoelectric molecules are all aligned in the same direction by applying an electric field that’s about 20 times as powerful as those that cause lightning during a thunderstorm.
So far, it has worked well enough that you can actually hear through the fibers. Researchers connected the fibers to a power supply and applied a current to make it vibrate at audible frequencies to generate sound.
The next major step will be to reduce the dimensions of the fiber so it can some day be woven into clothing.
“Right now the width of the fiber is around 2.5 mm, while in clothing today, the fibers are at around 50 microns,” says Abouraddy. “So they will have to reduce the width by a big magnitude.”
That’s one of the things that researchers will be working on over the next few years, says Fink. Eventually, he hopes, the manufacturing process will be perfected enough for the fibers to be affordable.
“Am I going to be able to sell this for a buck a meter in San Francisco soon? The answer is no,” says Fink. “But we should be able to get good economies of scale.”
- Smart Textiles Blend LEDs, Circuits and Sensors
- To Charge your iPod, Plug in Your Jeans
- E-Fabrics Still Too Stiff to Wear
- Ntera Prints a Display on Almost Any Surface
Photo: Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT/Greg Hren
Go here to see the original:
Fibers That Can Hear and Sing Could Power Electronic Textiles
The fabric of the future won’t be just plain chiffon, silk or cotton. Instead electroluminescent material, microprocessors and LEDs may be woven together with clothing fibers to create smart textiles.
“Clothing can be considered a second skin and by implementing technology in it, you are bringing it into your intimate space,” says Nicky Assmann, an e-textile designer whose work was part of a recent exhibition in the Netherlands. “You are not just carrying technology like a laptop or an iPhone, but wearing it constantly.”
The exhibition, Pretty Smart Textiles, which closed last week, gave a glimpse into what happens when technology meets fashion. Among the exhibits were a dress made entirely of circuit boards that could also be used to generate music, a garment that when worn takes the sound of a heartbeat and other sounds from the body and remixes it into music, and a trenchcoat that reads fabric punch cards and tells stories.
Electronic textiles are outgrowing their geeky reputation, says Melissa Coleman, who with Dorith Sjardijn curated the exhibtion.
“The open source hardware movement has allowed for quicker and easier development of electronics and made it accessible to artists and designers,” says Coleman. “The result is that smart textile applications have become more interesting conceptually and aesthetically.”
The exhibition, which ended last week, featured 16 works and seven interactive samples.
Most of the artists who showed their work were women. “Electronic textiles appeal more to women than men,” says Sjardijn. “Women who are already in technology find it a nice way to combine the stuff that they find appealing with the more clinical world of technology and programming.”
A Musical Circuit Dress
A dress with 35 old circuit boards stitched together is not for everyone. But Nicky Assmann, who built the dress over a four month period, says she chose circuit boards as the fabric for her dress because she liked their look.
“There’s a certain aesthetic about them — they have many details and are very systematic, like a grid or a city map,” she says.
The circuit dress is not just clothing but also a musical instrument. The dress is based on the idea of circuit bending, which involves deliberately short-circuiting electronic musical devices to get unexpected noise.
Twelve coils are incorporated into the dress, each of which is played by connecting it to one another through copper finger plates. The musical composition results as the fingers explore the dress. There are two speakers on the front of the dress, and the entire dress runs on batteries.
The straps on the dress are made from electric cables that are are used for rewiring the circuit-bended board from the back to the coils to the front. “It’s very functional,” says Assmann, since it solved the problem of where to leave the wires.
Overall, the dress weighs about 20 pounds. Assmann says if she’s practicing for a performance, she can’t wear the dress for more than hour because the straps hurt her shoulder.
Ultimately, the idea of the musical circuit dress is to display what many people consider ugly when it comes to technology: the innards of a device with its circuit boards, the wires and the chips. Assmann, an artist who’s studying for her graduate degree in Music at the Royal Conservatory and Academy in Hague, says the circuit dress put an aesthetic that’s normally hidden out in the front.
“The unwearability of the dress defines its performance,” says Assmann.
Smart Textiles Blend LEDs, Circuits and Sensors