Floreo: E-textililes And Moving Clothing

pedul [Alica] and [Jerika] are seniors in the Digital Culture program at Arizona State University and for their capstone, the wanted to take something that is traditionally male dominated and make it more female friendly. They chose e-textiles, which are most commonly extremely avant garde and nearly unapproachable with a lot of LEDs and zany mechanisms. Their initial designs reflected this, with multiple LED strips and huge shoulder pads. Then they discovered Flexinol shape memory actuator wire, and found this could be a much ‘softer’ integration of technology with haute couture.

[Jerika] and [Alica] chose to create an electronic flower, able to bloom with the help of a shape memory alloy. When a current is applied to the Flexinol wire, it contracts. Sewing these wires into laser cut fabric petals, the girls created a fabric flower that booms with the help of an LiliPad Arduino.

While they weren’t able to complete their dress due to electronic weirdness and burning out the wire too soon, they did succeed in creating a flower pin that demonstrated the intended effect.

Videos below.


28 thoughts on “Floreo: E-textililes And Moving Clothing

  1. There must be a way of avoiding burning out the memory wire. Maybe just limit the current? A simple resistor might do it, or I suppose you could wire a current-measuring resistor in, and have an Arduino analogue pin read it, and pulse accordingly. Aren’t there guidelines for driving muscle wire? Maybe they could ask a guy to help them with it.

  2. This is pretty neat, I’ed like to order a solar boutineer, you know opens in the sun and closes in the (relative) dark, I’ed be the coolest guy without a date at the prom! (Seriously it is kinda neat.)

  3. “the[y] wanted to take something that is traditionally male dominated and make it more female friendly.”

    Digital culture is traditionally male dominated? Uhh? Women and men both hack things but why is it that e-textiles or wearable arduinos is always touted as the “female centric” making methodology?

    1. I was paraphrasing from the video. If you have a complaint, it’s not with me.

      And I’ve been struggling with how to present ‘softer’ hacks as a male. The thing that set off this ‘being pissed off that sewing is ‘wymyns work’ was a tutorial on making a parachute. The guy who wrote the tutorial specifically said something along the lines of, “now that you have the gores cut out, you can hand that over to your wife for the sewing.” That’s a shitty idea, but I can’t think of a way to do something as simple as a “how to thread a sewing machine tutorial” without someone complaining that I’m co-opting women’s safe spaces when I’m already in a heavily male-dominated field. Yes, I own two sewing machines (occupied japanese Singer 15 clone is my baby), and yes, I can write several thousand words on my thoughts on this.

      1. And maybe you could throw in a bit of free verse about the magnificent Serger – Nothing like applying 4 interlocking threads at a time to make sure that the seam is never coming apart again without application of very strong forces.

        Tip: Don’t worry about women safe spaces or gender identities. My rules:
        1. People who disagree are always welcome. Maybe I’m wrong and I want to know.
        2. People who are disagreeable are not.

    2. Because it is. Cry and make all the “sexist” or “feminist” arguments you want, no one cares. Look objectively at what is put out there. There are a select few women that can “hack with the boys”. Why, I don’t know; lots of girls just don’t like to mess with technology like men do. It’s just an objective observation. Some of the girls that can “hack with the boys” turn out to be sheer genius, like Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper.

      It’s really irritating that I have to be nice to these lame hacks because they are girls making them. They’re lame, and step your game up.

      1. I think this would have been a nice hack if it did work out. It is certainly more subtle than the blinkenlights fashion statements, and I don’t see why flowers have to be regarded as feminine. The dress certainly is feminine, at least given societal norms, but we are free to choose what we like about a project.

        (Also: can we please show these women some respect by calling them such. These are young adults and we should be treating them as such. That means avoiding diminutive terms like, “girls.”)

      2. In the end, it’s still an interesting idea – folding and unfolding fabric by mechanical means.
        And if you want to see some really impressive engineering technology, look at what goes into constructing a high quality custom (bespoke) suit or exotic lingerie.

        As for the rest of the flow: This is an interesting point. Gender bias or not, there are very few women who become hackers for many reasons. Perhaps this will change over time, but it appears that a complex mix of genetic traits and life experience is required to push someone down the road to hacking, and these traits are not as common in women as in men.

        I am put off by attempts to divide nouns and verbs by nomenclature like “masculine” or “feminine”. But I am no better – sadly, whenever I see a female name attributed to some impressive hacking related project or activity, I cynically presume that there is a Y chromosome within their body, however cleverly hidden. So far, I have found few exceptions.
        (and to be clear, I have no problem with labels or genetic make up of any kind!)

        This doesn’t take away from the accomplishment in any way, and I have met many women born with 2 X chromosomes who accomplish amazing things in STEM fields, including the entrepreneurial and media branches of those.

        My belief is that those born with 2 X chromosomes tend to hack just as much as men, but that they often hack things involving intangibles – in a way that is likely just as rewarding as the joy of watching your attempt at a multi-stage (mentos and coke based) high altitude rocket reach low earth orbit.

        However, the truth is – most people (male and female and all related labels) just don’t find hacking to be all that rewarding. That leaves us to be the clever monkeys in the troop, but we are certainly not representative of the average monkey.

        @Figureitout – Indeed, Ada Lovelace was WAAAAAY smarter than most people know. She motivated Babbage in many ways.

        1. Talking of chromosomes, it’s bizarrely interesting how many of the original Atari 2600 programmers changed sex. Quite a few, for such a tiny group. I think there was one XX-born woman on the crew to start with.

          Maybe that’s what happens when you don’t include any video RAM.

    3. It’s kinda annoying that this was just a case of using shop-bought Arduinos and memory wire, and a bit of sewing. And they STILL couldn’t get it working properly! Memory wire is not plug ‘n’ play like the Arduino kit stuff is meant to be, you still need to know V=IR etc.

      To praise this failed and kinda stupid project, just because they’re women, is a bit of an insult to people like Quinn Dunki and particularly Jeri Ellsworth, who does better work than many men.

      I dunno why women just don’t seem to be interested in engineering. Maybe it’s a genetic brain thing, and not just everyone being giant sexists. As long as the engineering gets done, and the few talented and interested women can get work if they want it, then I don’t think it’s too bad.

  4. The resistance of muscle wire seems to decrease as it heats up. That causes a run-away reaction where the current increases as the temperature increases, making muscle wire difficult to control using a constant voltage source. A constant current driver works somewhat better.

    I used a simple BC547 transistor + base resistor to make constant current sink for this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXM0h1hOoK8

  5. Being one of the creators of this project, I wanted to apologize for any gender issues this might have caused. Alicia and I mainly stated this because in our major of Digital Culture at Arizona State, there is a higher ratio of men to women. We were not stating that women in general do not know how to engineer or are not tackling wearable technology projects in the present day. In our major, which is a new major to ASU as of 2010 when we both started attending, we found that the program is a little unstructured. We were introduced to many areas – 3D modeling, animation, video game design, and engineering. The senior capstone is to come up with your own original idea and if it does not get completed, then you must document and present what you have managed to attain. Alicia and I failed to complete the project – this is due to the fact that we had little prior knowledge of the materials involved. We were both familiar with working with Arduinos and wanted to challenge ourselves. The staff involved were not familiar with the materials as well (particularly the flexinol), which is why we were unable to complete the project with our intended effect. This does not mean that we are “stupid” as some so eloquently put. With more time, resources, and knowledge of the subject material we could have gotten it finished. This does not go without saying, we really enjoyed this project and what we did manage to finish and learn. Thank you for viewing our work and listening.

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