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Textile Messages

Dispatches From the World of E-Textiles and Education


Leah Buechley, Kylie Peppler, Michael Eisenberg and Yasmin Kafai

Textile Messages focuses on the emerging field of electronic textiles, or e-textiles – computers that can be soft, colorful, approachable, and beautiful. E-textiles are articles of clothing, home furnishings, or architectures that include embedded computational and electronic elements. This book introduces a collection of tools that enable novices – including educators, hobbyists, and youth designers – to create and learn with e-textiles. It then examines how these tools are reshaping technology education – and DIY practices – across the K-16 spectrum, presenting examples of the ways educators, researchers, designers, and young people are employing them to build new technology, new curricula, and new creative communities.
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2 i*CATch: A Plug-n-Play Kit for Wearable Computing



Three young girls, aged 10, showed off a black jacket with colorful felt badges and electronic devices attached. “If you are hiking and it gets dark, the jacket will automatically light up.” They covered up a light sensor on the back of the jacket, and a light turned on. “Then, if your neck is sore, you press this switch on the arm, and these motors will vibrate and give you a neck massage. If you get bored, press this button, and it’ll play a song for you,” they pressed a switch on the other arm, which triggered the playing of a simple tune. “Finally, if somebody is stalking you, it’ll sound an alarm.” An ultrasonic sensor on the back of the jacket was covered, and a shrill alarm sounded through the room.

Four young boys in their early teens walked to the front of a classroom (Figure 13, top). One of them stepped forward, wearing a jacket decorated with a colorful human figure on the chest. Switches were hidden under two other figures near the wrists. He stretched out his arms to show off the tableau and began his story, “So there’s this producer here,” a friend pointed to the figure on the chest, “who is making a western movie. He has two actors playing cowboys,” his friend pointed to the two figures on the arms, “and they’re going to do a shootout.” One of his friends pressed the switch hidden in the right-hand figure. A...

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