Friday, 1 June 2012

The Little Slide Dress

This Bank Holiday weekend everyone is dressing up in red white and blue or so the shops would have it….here’s an alternative  piece of fancy dress, one that appeals to me .
At Victoria University  of Wellington in the School of Design, that's in  New Zealand ! they run a module as part of their Wearable Technology course which they call 'FIREFLIES AND LIGHTNING BUGS' . In this project students create a wearable garment or accessory that lights up / blinks / glows / pulsates / radiates. They do this using the Arduino Lilypadmicrocontroller which is designed specifically for use with fabrics.
After learning the basics of electronics and Arduino programming students must conceive and realise ‘a functioning wearable with embedded, reactive light component’. As an erstwhile slide librarian I like this one by Emily Steel which she calls the Little Slide Dress and describes here:
The Little Slide Dress ….draws inspiration from classic movies and the ‘magic of film’ to create a wearable piece of technology and art. ….With film we only see what really is going on once the lights go out. For this to work there needs to be a balance of projected and ambient light something the Little Slide Dress tries to emulate. The dress is constructed out of individual slide film images that are backed with LED’s. An Arduino Lilypad connected to a light sensor controls the brightness of the LED’s. The sensor reads the how much ambient light there is and uses this value to determine if the LED’s will be off or on. When there is lots of light the LED’s are off and it looks like a shiny black dress with small hints that something else is going on. Once the sensor determines there is the right amount of light for LED’s to be seen in their full brightness it turns them on. When the dress is on the lights slowly pulse and the images on the dress come alive.

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