Tagged: sensors

HTB2.0 – Residency Day 6

Today was our first day at Siobhan Davies Dance Studios with our two lovely dancers Charlie and Emma. We worked with the pre-fab biosensors today and went through a series of dance improvisations and reflective writing exercises with the dancers to collect more information about how sensing informs how we think of our body and movement. We structured the improvisations off the conceptual framework we discussed earlier in the week – ‘unknown unknowns’, ‘known unknowns’,  ‘known Knowns’ and ‘unknown knowns’ but also moving from sensing for self, sensing together, sensing with collaborators and sensing for corporations.


‘Unknown unknowns’

We started with just putting the sensors on the dancers and telling them to do an open score improv, where they could move however they felt.


‘Known unknowns’

We then told the dancers what we were sensing with the devices on their bodies and revealed each of the sensors one by one. Each new sensor was explored in a 5 minute solo dance improvisation.

We then asked them to explore a similar process, but as a duet, where they were asked to communicate what they were sensing (which sensor they were focussing on: heartrate, respiratory, calories/energy, strength, etc.) to the other dancer. We asked them do this 4 times to correspond with the of the 4 physiological types of data the sensors were collecting. This was expressed first as more of a contact improv interaction, and then later became more of a call and response score, as we asked them to each communicate a different sensors each time,but without the other dancer knowing which. It was a very interesting to watch how they moved further apart as they tried to use eye contact and watch each other to communicate the different data types/sensing rather than what they are used to doing with contact improv.


‘Known Knowns’

We then revealed more about the process and overall project to the dancers – what we were aiming to make with the sensors, why we wanted to collect data. This definitely changed their behaviour from the first open improv and the dancers were much more reserved in their movement, focusing much more on what ‘data might be useful’. The movement became more exercise-like, such as trying to tire themselves to manipulate their heartrate or breathing.

We also “lied” to them to see how they would respond to suggestion of what we intended to do with the data (i.e. make a particular type of performance), to see if they would change the way they danced and this indeed did happen, they wanted to help manipulate their imagined idea of a visual or musical outcome that we might make for the performance.


‘Unknown knowns’

We then discussed that these were commercial devices and apps that were collecting their biosignals. This was the prompt for the final improvisation.

Below are some of the images from the Polar app that Camille grabbed from the sessions to show the various ways the company think people want to track their data. Sadly, because they won’t share their API with us unless we are an insurance company, fitness company or medical company/institution and pay for it. So we couldn’t use any date from them.

IMG_3694 IMG_3693

IMG_3219 IMG_3220 IMG_3221 IMG_3222 IMG_3223 IMG_3225 IMG_3226 IMG_3214 IMG_3215 IMG_3216 IMG_3217 IMG_3218 IMG_3199IMG_3202

Below is the interface for the OM Signal which only had a ‘screen’ for each of the data types it was collecting: heart rate, respiratory rate, calories/energy, and strength.


Below are some images from Emma trying to express strength through movement.


And some other data type here…IMG_3209 IMG_3210

Charlie exploring one of the senses in ‘conversation’ with Emma.IMG_3212

Camille watching Kate measuring the dancers while Dann films them (getting into the movement with them). IMG_3192 IMG_3198Dann in the moment.

IMG_3196Emma and Charlie trying to express their sensor.


Creativity and Cognition 2013, Sydney

Here are the images from our 3rd workshop June 17th, 2013 in Sydney, Australia – on intro to soft circuits this time with intro to Arduino programming, at the 9th ACM Conference on Creativity & Cognition 2013

ISEA 2013 Hacking the Body workshop

Here are the images from the ISEA Hacking the Body – intro to soft circuits crafting for performance, in Sydney, Australia, June 9th, 2013. See also http://www.isea2013.org/events/hacking-the-body/ and https://www.facebook.com/ISEA2013


Performative Examples:

Online Tutorials:

How to Get What You Want


Lilypad  and e-sewing basics/Leah Buechley


Fashioning Technology


Soft Circuits Saturdays Wearable projects and resources

Felted Signal Processing http://fsp.fm/

Creating Felt Sensors http://learning.codasign.com/index.php?title=Creating_Felt_Sensors

Materials/ Sensors to buy or make:

open Materials http://openmaterials.org/2011/03/27/materials-101-electrotextiles/#special

Flexible Stretch sensors http://www.imagesco.com/sensors/stretch-sensor.html

Plug and Wear http://www.plugandwear.com/default.asp?mod=cat&cat_id=86

Plusea soft electronics http://www.plusea.at/?p=938

Awesome “kit-of-no parts” electronics you make http://web.media.mit.edu/~plusea/?category_name=actuators

Mediamatic  http://www.mediamatic.net/12648/en/wearable-arduino

Conductive materials http://3lectromode.com/blog/2013/01/01/conductive-materials/


Arduino (Lilypad & Flora) resources:

http://www.adafruit.com/category/92 – overview of Flora & to purchase

http://learn.adafruit.com/getting-started-with-flora – getting started

http://lilypadarduino.org – getting started

http://www.learning.codasign.com/index.php?title=Beginning_Arduino – more on getting started

http://arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/Foundations – Arduino’s own learning resources


Australian electronics distributors:

Little Bird Electronics, Toys Down Under, RobotGear, Australian Robotics, ProtoGEAR, Squarebit, Bilby CNC, Gorillabuilderz, The Life Automatic, Ocean Controls, Electron Hobbies, Sedonia Technologies


Other Key Suppliers (non-Australian)

Spark Fun – https://www.sparkfun.com/categories/top?category=135&since=ever&per_page=50

Adafruit – http://www.adafruit.com

TinyCircuits http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kenburns/tinyduino-the-tiny-arduino-compatible-platform-w-s 

Crochet Stretch Sensors – Working with conductive yarn

For the Unraveled performance, I have been working with conductive yarn. What I have found is to make sensors with a resistance that is measurable. I don’t focus on the electronics and measurements so much – just what seems to work. A lot of this is based on Kobakant’s How To Get What You Want. So I highly recommend checking them out, especially if you want conductive and resistant measurements.

Basically I crochet a sample of yarn with the conductive yarn and normal yarn just paired together as if I were crocheting with one piece. The conductive yarn is Nm10/3 conductive yarn. The stitch I default to is a double treble (UK) crochet stitch. I actually taught myself crochet through these tutorials.


I have been trialling different types of normal yarn and have found some just are not resistive. My test is a simple 3.7V battery , resistor and LED and when the yarn is stretched. In the image above you can see the types of yarn I have tried.

Silver – All conductive yarn. Great as a conductor but no resistance
Blue – 80% bamboo 20% wool. No resistance.
Pink (used in video) – 100% cotton. Works best.
Yellow – 100% Acrylic. No resistance.
Pink/White mix – 70% triacetate 30% nylon. No resistance.
Hot Pink (pictured below on soft circut sample) – 50% Acrylic 50% cotton. Works well.


I have used the working trials in creating soft circuits with the crocheted stretch sensor, battery and LED with conductive thread. Below the crochet is sewn onto stretch jersey fabric so the stretch comes from the fabric.


And here are some videos of the 100% cotton yarn in action

Crochet Stretch Sensor 1

Crochet Stretch Sensor 2

Trials, Errors and Triumphs – Working with Bluetooth & Microcontrollers

Recently I have been working on a dance piece called Unraveled which utilises crocheted stretch sensors across the ribs to measure breath. This is then sent via a microcontroller wirelessly to a laptop where it manipulates sounds. During this process there have been many technicalities in working with bluetooth (Bluesmirf in particular) and Flora which have made me change directions in the parts/technology which will be implemented this project.

Kate 02

First idea was to use the Flora microcontroller from Adafruit. This is a newer microcontroller that is for wearables with slight differences from the Lilypad (mostly around the battery). Adafruit plan to release a bluetooth module according to their website. This being the case I thought the Flora might work with other bluetooth modules, such as Bluesmirf. Unfortunately this is not the case.

Firstly, I had to reconfiguire the Bluesmirf anyways. There is more about how to do this here and here. There is also a small bit about this in Tom Igoe’s book Making Things Talk (2nd edition) on page 68. Basically it has to be changed from HID to SPP in order to pair with a laptop and send serial. I did this first in Cool Terminal and later realised I could also do this in the Arduino software. However, even after trialling various CMD codes, it would still not handshake with the Flora.


It is definitely not the Bluesmirf because the set up works with the Arduino Uno. And I can send serial from my stretch sensors to the computer wirelessly. The problem with the Uno is that is is a bulky board for prototyping, not really to be worn as part of a costume.


My next idea is to move away from bluetooth and use xbee and lilypad. This is a working combo and will allow for sewing the lilypad onto the garment that is also housing the stretch sensors.


V & A Digital Futures


On Nov 17th we were invited to showcase what we are working on towards Hacking the Body at the V&A Digital Futures event. Many aspects of this project are at the beginning stages as we envision it to take place over the next three years. Here are some of the current soft circuit and wearable technologies we are exploring as part of our hacking of biological feedback from the body.

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