School of Maaa

Still catching up on the activities of this summer. One of the closing events and highlights was spending a few days in Berlin teaching at the School of Machines, Making & Make-Believe.

I spent 3 days with around a dozen students from a variety of backgrounds. They included artists, designers and engineers. The general topic I was teaching was wearables. It was the second week of the programme and everyone had some amount of experience with Arduino.

I started my sessions with a bit of background about myself and a broad overview of the intersections of e-textiles, wearables and art. We then started with switches in the afternoon.

The big technical topic of the afternoon was the role of pull up and pull down resistors.

The group then had a design challenge of prototyping a wearable that would capture as many body positions as possible when using only 4 switches. The primary material was aluminium foil and the results were quite brilliant. There was a macarena dance detector.

SAMSUNG A super hero theme music and sound effects generator. SAMSUNG Tank joined for the 3 days and brought along her 3D printer, so some quick 3D printing worked its way into a prototype that lit up a lightbulb when a thoughtful gesture is made. Eureka

The second day tackled the technical topic of variable resistors and voltage divider circuits. One particularly clever project was a single length of conductive thread that increased the pitch of a tone as it was wound up around an object and dropped the pitch as it was unwound. There was also an impromptu knitting lesson with 4 of the students interested in learning how to knit a stretch sensor.

The final session looked at capacitive sensing with time for developing project ideas. I’m not sure how many of the students will be taking forward wearables and soft circuits, but they fedback that learning some first principles of sensors encouraged them to create their own.