Data and Fashion

| November 27, 2017

When you think of wearable technology, the Apple watch probably comes to mind and maybe futuristic ways that we can wear tech in our clothing. Wearable Media, whose work is currently exhibited on the second floor of the Gottesman Library, works to fuse fashion and technology to make innovative, responsive garments.

At a recent workshop on Data and Fashion, taught by Wearable Media’s Jingwen Zhu, we were able to experiment with using circuitplaygroundArduino (a platform that allows users to create electronic objects) and Adafruit’s Circuit Playground. Circuit Playground has LEDs lights, a motion sensor, and creates sounds. All you need to get started is a circuit board, a power source (we used laptops and USBs) and some Arduino code.

Jingwen also showed us an example of how she sewed a circuit board to a leg band that sensed when she moved her leg and vibrated. In this way, we saw how the circuit board could collect input data from something like movement and trigger an output action like vibration. Additionally, we learned how some of the garments in the Future Textile Library incorporate real life data. For example, the Ceres garment uses NASA’s asteroid-detecting API to vibrate based on the frequency and proximity of asteroids (scary stuff!).

The final workshop from Wearable Media is on December 1st at 4pm, covering sound and textiles. Contact Zoe Logan if you would like to attend.


Wearables can be a great way to interest students in engineering and design using simple projects that show the potential of what electronics can do. Want to learn more about teaching with Arduino and e-textiles? Checking out these books:

Adventures in Arduino by Becky Stewart

Design, Make, Play: Growing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators by Margaret Honey and David E. Kanter

Soft Circuits: Crafting e-Fashion with DIY Electronics by Kylie Peppler, Melissa Gresalfi, Katie Salen Tekinbas, and Leah Buechley

Textile messages: dispatches from the world of e-textiles and education by Leah Buechley, Kylie Peppler, Michael Eisenberg, Yasmin Kafai