Electronic Cufflinks For The Discerning Hacker


[Phillip Torrone] gave us a heads up about a project he and [Limor Fried] along with [Mike Doell] have just wrapped up. Their aptly-named “iCufflinks” softly pulsate with light the same way in which you see many Mac products do.

The cufflinks are made from machined aluminum and have the ubiquitous “power symbol” milled into the face. Inside the cufflinks, you will find a small circuit board and a battery, which powers the device for up to 24 hours. The team reverse-engineered the soft LED pulse found in Mac products in order to deliver the exact same visualization in their cufflinks.

Ignoring for a minute, the name and the inspiration for the product, we think they are pretty darn cool. There’s nothing like a set of softly glowing cufflinks to spark conversation at any social gathering.

Like anything else you’ll find on Adafruit.com, the cufflinks are completely open source, so you can feel free to tweak and remix the design any way you’d like.

Continue reading to see a video of the cufflinks in action.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/25108667 w=470]

38 thoughts on “Electronic Cufflinks For The Discerning Hacker

  1. They’d be so much better thinner. Maybe if the contained the coin cell in another button on the shirt or on the inside and used conductive thread to connect the power.

  2. @robert and gman you can look at the measurements on github, they are tiny! smaller than a dime and not too thick. solid and light, they have room for the diffuser, PCB and battery. compared to other cufflinks i have they’re about the same size.

  3. I wonder how difficult/expensive it would be to make the battery be on the reverse side to the “display” side. That would help to balance it out, as well as let the display side be thinner/more attractive. It would also provide a more secure locking mechanism, so that the heavy link would not drop out.

    imagines a bayonet style fitting to convey the current from the battery on one side to the display on the other side. Or even just a screw with an insulated center.

  4. @raogan, check out the images on the site – they’re not large at all and i’ve worn them for days doing the photo shoots and demos and purposely tried to get them to slip out – nearly impossible.

    @daenris, the watch ones you linked to are large compared to power button ones we made (i had a set of those, well – ones like them).

  5. I agree with the masses here. Placing the battery on the backside of the cuff link would yield a more attractive design connecting power would be a non issue. The battery compartment could be the same piece which holds your cuff and snapping it together would connect the battery. I am thinking similar to a micro usb or the end of an ac adapter.

  6. I’m not talking about diameter, I’m talking about thickness. I’m fairly certain that those watch cufflinks are not as thick as your power button ones. The watch face section is just a bit thicker than the cross bar section, which I’d imagine is a fairly standard size across cufflinks.

    Even the picture on the icufflinks site shows them as being about twice as thick as the ipod they’re sitting next to. Some people may think that’s fine, others — as evidenced in the responses so far — think that that’s too thick for a cufflink.

  7. @pt — so the rendering is not to scale? In any case, I did look at the photos on the site. It hasn’t changed my opinion that they’re too thick for cufflinks. The video that shows them sitting next to a dime really makes it clear.

  8. @Manfre – I was thinking along the same lines. These guys have hardly made consideration to what is obviously something that Apple has copyright on. I can see it now in the application:

    Patent Pending:
    Use of electricity or other form of power to light something that blinks, flashes or pulses at varying rates, speeds and colours.
    u guys are boned! :P

    Nice touch, very jelly of them. Wonder if without the milling of aluminium salvaged parts could be used.

  9. Like every thing I have ever seen with iName it’s iOverpriced. Like it’s inspiration little if any thought was put into the cost of actually using them ($4.99 a battery , one use per battery) . This is marketed at people with too much money just like iEverythingelse. Im sure they will still sell fine, that is part of the iAllure that its common knowledge it was way over priced and expensive to use long term. That is why its exclusive and why the fanbois eat this kinda thing up.

  10. @iexpensive – we’ve posted everything to re-create them you’re welcome to try to make them cheaper and have them made in the usa (and canada) where we make ours. i think you’ll find these are fairly priced.

    the battery lasts up to 48 hours if you leave it on all the time, let’s say you have a 4 hour event, that’s 12 uses / 12 events. that’s pretty good. we include an extra set of batteries and the batteries are not $4.99 each, more like less than $1 depending where you get them.

  11. I quoted the radioshack price. 48hours is not bad thats 2 – 4 uses. I don’t mean to detract from them at all if any thing my feeling like this just means like iPads iPods (and the surely soon to be iPed the car that runs on non rechargeable, non-user replaceable batteries ;this is a cut on apple not you ) Its something I wouldn’t mind having which means you did a great job making them.
    I think the tie clips will rock it out. Plugs are also a really good idea. I especially like the idea of a tie clip.

  12. The first thing I would be doing with these is swapping out the slow pulsating light for a solid red or blue. I’m partial to the red cause it would be in memory of my recently dead xbox :(

  13. Nice idea – but awful name, awful price, and they’re way too thick. Hope they do better with the next rev.

    The suggestion of moving the battery to the back makes sense. Heck – move everything to the back and put in a light pipe so that it can be button thin. That would be much, much sexier.

  14. I’m sorry although I think they look great, I personally would never wear these with any suit or tuxedo I own I wear a suit every day people know I am a full fledged geek. But that for me would be just way to over the top. Like I said I think they look great just not for me. Very innovative, let’s be honest here how many of you actually own shirts that require cuff links btw? Like I said I wear a suit everyday but I only own one shirt that requires cuff links and I wear that shirt maybe twice a year to major functions that require I wear A tuxedo. So raise of hands and be honest. How many here actually own shirts that require cuff links? even if it is just one.

  15. Hand raised, but the picture shown above is too thick for my tastes. Plus I don’t want people staring at my cuff links, when they should be staring at me. The cuff links just sit there, I am the one that has to wear the tux.

  16. “@vampyredh – i can say for a fact that so far at least 1,200 people seem to own french cuff shirts and want these.” – PT

    Wow, I guess I’m not surprised. Congrats. When are you guys going to start selling ice? The melty kind ;-) Just kiddin’ Seriously congrats.

    FYI: I don’t own any shirts that would require cufflinks. iHacker, iSlacker.

  17. i think i’ll take better pictures so it’s clear these are not “thick” i have cufflinks that are all about the same size as these, i think a lot of people may need to see these in person too. luckily, many places that sell cufflinks have contacted me about becoming a distributor.

  18. Awesome, now I can be a smug douchenozzle even in formal dress! If they didn’t emphasize their Apple-ness, it’s an interesting idea, but as they are they’re basically pulsating Apple ads on a shirt. Almost as bad as a giant glowing logo on the back of a computer.

    I can’t see this post as anything other than an ad, intentional or not. There’s nothing of interest to hackers here.

  19. Vampyredh, I’ve got at least half a dozen shirts that are French cuffed. I don’t do a lot of big social events, but when I do I like to be very well dressed – and that’s what French cuffs give you.

    If you wear a suit to work every day, it’s probably overkill. If you don’t, it is well worth your while to save up and buy just a handful of really nice clothes. A custom-tailored suit, two or three custom-tailored shirts, two nice pair of shoes, and four great ties will run you about $2000, but they look fantastic and they last.

  20. Haha, I love the not-so-subtle attempt to appeal to mac fanboys (but then again, who else would be willing to spend that amount of money on something so simple in an aluminum case). I also love how they literally just monitored the light output from an iMac in an attempt to copy it.

  21. @gabriele the source code, schematics and CAD files are all available to hack and mod. so far owners have made other patterns and someone is making their own version out of gold and having the LED blink green.

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