The idea of “wearable” technology has been getting a lot more attention in recent years, thanks in part to the popularity of devices such as the Nike Fuelband, Fitbit, and now the Apple Watch. The Walrus has a nice article that talks about some of the general characteristics of wearables; it correctly points out that most current wearables “resemble computers strapped to limbs.” In our maker lab we are most interested in exploring the possibilities that occur when one combines textiles and electronics.
One of the components of maker pedagogy is re-using and adapting artefacts that seem to have outlived their usefulness. It’s highly likely that you have an old t-shirt or two buried at the bottom of a drawer or a closet. Our entry point into wearables is to convert an old t-shirt into a reusable shopping bag. There are lots of ways to accomplish this task, but my favourite is this technique because it does not require a sewing machine. This particular project can be done by very young children (provided there is adult supervision with the scissors) and can be modified for older grades to include concepts such as measurement and sustainability. There is a book by Professor Pietra Rivioli called “The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy” that would support an in-depth conversation about globalization, using this project as a jumping off point.
We can then use what we learned in the Paper Circuits project to add LEDs and patterns to the new shopping bag. Another interesting possibility is to find a way to use the left over sleeves to create wrist bands that light up, or even a storage spot for your digital music player while you job. Blinking LEDs can alert others to your presence at night 🙂