Snuggle up with the softer side of hacking

led_quilt

Not all hacks need to be made up of servo motors, wireless radios, and PIR sensors. Sometimes hacking has a softer side, of which [Katie] reminds us with her latest creation.

Her LED quilt incorporates 64 hand-sewn LEDs, all of which were painstakingly attached with conductive thread. The same thread was used in a sewing machine to build the conductive grid that powers the LEDs. One half of the circuit was sewn into the front of the quilt in the form of 8 rows, while the columns are sewn into the back side. All of the rows and columns meet in the corner of the quilt, where they are attached to a Lilypad Arduino using simple metal snaps.

The LED matrix panel was then tested, then sewn into an actual quilt. The finished product looks completely innocuous until lit up, as you can see in the video below. We think it would make a great nightlight replacement for a child, especially if programmed to display soothing light patterns.

[via Make]

Comments

  1. CutThroughStuffGuy says:

    Somebody needs to come up with a truly soft and flexible LED. Maybe some kind of non silicon technology and embedded in a flexible silicone elastomer?

  2. CaptainSmirk says:

    @CutThroughStuffGuy
    whoa there cowboy before you modify the phase variance you should consider polynucleation distortions

  3. Erik Johnson says:

    @CutThroughStuffGuy SMTs are as good as you’ll get for now, some are small enough to go unnoticed and still quite bright…

  4. junkhacker says:

    an SMD LED on a small PCB could be made size of a small button

  5. CutThroughStuffGuy says:

    SMT LEDs in a soft elastomer with some easy method of making connections to them and mounting them?

  6. Ben says:
  7. twoolie says:

    all she needs now is a wireless power reciever built into the quilt so it can light up without having a lab bench supply in your kid’s room.

  8. CutThroughStuffGuy says:

    Anything to make harmless blinky leds married to shirts without setting off alarms from the “I know what bombs look like from watching television” crowd. Strapping a breadboard and wires to your chest then going to an airport probably isn’t the *best* idea to show off to lay people who don’t have EE knowledge.

    http://papers-please.tripod.com/terrorist_art_sam_simpson.html

  9. Erik Johnson says:

    @CutThroughStuffGuy for sewing, i suppose you could solder little eyelets on them – or use those cool little breakouts Ben posted – neat! The mere method of sewing the wire is the mounting method… Encasing in silicone or epoxy would ensure durability(washing)

  10. localroger says:

    This is actually one of the more impressive hacks I’ve seen recently. I like the fact that the LED’s are hidden in the batting, where they aren’t likely to be noticed until they turn on. Something old, something new… all she needs is a borrowed panel and blue LED’s, and it’s the perfect wedding gift.

  11. Microguy says:

    I think I would have gone with SMD LEDs and perhaps sew a small patch of thin material over it. These LED’s will be catching on everything. So small LED’s, and thin cloth covering.

    It’d still be plenty bright enough.

  12. Swankie says:

    flexible LED – what you mean is called OLED. there are flexible OLED display prototypes out there. you just need to convince a company to produce big, bright, single OLEDs.

  13. Swankie says:

  14. CutThroughStuffGuy says:

    The ahhhmoooohhhleeeead song aside, that is quite neat. I doubt it can hold up to being creased unfortunately.

  15. Stevie says:

    @CutThroughStuffGuy at first I felt bad for the woman in the story on papers-please.tripod.com, but then I read on to their description of what happened in the case of Jean Charles de Menezes. Talk about complete and utter BS. Their account of what happened to him is a total fantasy. So there goes any credit for their first story.

  16. Fallen says:

    Why can’t you just solder SMT LEDs to a flexible substrate and then encase the whole thing in silicone? It won’t stand up to creasing, but folding it should be fine.

    Otherwise, why not try a different technology. Electroluminescence anyone? EL wire, but without the 2 wires. Just the ground, and then put a fine wire around the part you want to light up. In other words divide it up into segments.

  17. CutThroughStuffGuy says:

    I can’t speak to the second link. Just the first. Sorry.

  18. Mike says:

    You could set up the leds to show a frame in a cellular automation game,maybe with some sort of tracking function so that the frame is showing the most active regions or modify a typical requirement of such games and make the environment finite; that would be cool.

  19. What i want is e-ink segments that are about 1cm diameter, with two connections and multiple colours depending on the magnitude and direction of the applied voltage pulse.

    The ink only needs 12V at a microamp or so to switch but it does need to be encapsulated or moisture gets in and mucks up something in the capsules.
    (this can be fixed with gentle applied heat or a vacuum chamber however)

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