Make your own Wearable Workshop

smart clothing for smart users

10 Nov 2006
12 Nov 2006

Tiny chips, cheap sensors and the possibilities of emerging smart fabrics, conductive yarns and cheap wireless communication (bluetooth or even rfid) make wearables easier and cheaper to make. During this three day workshop we gave all participants the chance to combine nerd stuff with fashion.


Wearable arduino -

The workshop

Arduino boards are small physical computing platforms: Arduino developed a fairly simple integrated development environment to deal with the small portable input/output board. With all these tools at our fingertips, nothing could stop us from making our own smart coats, reactive hats and luminescent skirts.

To help you get started, Mediamatic organized a wearables workshop where you could develop your own Arduino-driven wearable. Assisted by Massimo Banzi, one of the creators of the Arduino board and several coding/soldering/sewing helpers you had three days to make your prototype in the stimulating surroundings of the Mediamatic Winter Garden.


During the workshop, all participants designed their own wearable. They defined the sensor inputs and the actuator outputs and programmed the Arduino board to correctly react to the different inputs. Everyone did this in Arduino's own IDE, which helped them to write a kind of simplified Java code similar to Processing. Then everyone stitched/glued/felt together your prototype so they could participate in the wearables fashion show!


Computer scientists, fashion designers, hardware hackers, art students, fabric experts, product developers, dancers- everyone was welcome.
However, note that some technical affinity was required. Some experience in programming and electronics is useful, specifically in soldering and java, but not strictly necessary. We adviced participants to come in teams of max. 3 people, so everyone could distribute soldering, coding and sewing tasks.


The workshop took place in the latest Mediamatic exhibition: the Winter Garden. The Winter Garden is an indoor botanical garden filled with plants and robots. From the minimalistic electronic creatures of Ralf Schreiber to the virtual forest of Michiel Samyn to the interactive plant by Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau to the pheromone tinged garden benches of Mateusz Herczka and the communicative crickets of Felix Hess- the Winter Garden is full of wonders.

What to bring?

If there was a specific sensor or actuator you would like to use during the workshop, we advised you to bring it yourself. You could also bring the actual clothing article beforehand, and not sew it during the workshop, or you could bring fabric and other material for the base of your wearable. You had to bring your own laptop to do your coding, and we advised you to download the Arduino software and have a look at it beforehand.

How to prepare?

Besides looking at the Arduino software you had to have a look at the Mediamatic wearables reader - a collection of interesting articles, websites and blogposts that can get you started in the world of wearables. Virtual Platform and V2 organized a wearables symposium in Rotterdam called Fleshing Out the day before the Mediamatic Arduino workshop with speakers such as Ionat Zurr (SymbioticA: the art and science collaborative research laboratory), Tobie Kerridge (Royal College of Art, London) and Joanna Berzowska (Design and Computation Arts , Concordia University, Montreal).

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