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Textile Messages

Dispatches From the World of E-Textiles and Education


Edited By 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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7 EduWear: E-Textiles in Youth Sports and Theater



Sarah and Julia are practicing their part for the dance performance for the last time; it is the dress rehearsal. Two steps to the right, arms up in the air and the garments start to blink. Everything works fine, now they are ready for the big show. The electronically equipped stage that the group of teenagers built themselves helps them as an informal grid to remember the choreography: spots of light provide signals indicating when the dancers have to go into action; the area is clearly marked through a mesh of sensors and lines. The show takes place at the end of a workshop. They have already created and programmed their garments, constructed and equipped the stage electronically, and developed a dance choreography. Usually, neither Sarah nor Julia care about computers and technology very much, but this has been a great experience. “Computers are quite exciting, really,” says Julia. “They just do what you tell them in your program.”

This example is taken from a workshop entitled “Smart Dance,” which belongs to a series of workshops run by the research group entitled “Digital Media in Education” (dimeb) at the University of Bremen, Germany. Central to the majority of these workshops is the use of an e-textile construction kit developed through the European research project EduWear. E-Textiles hold the potential to closely connect technology to the human body and movements. The goals of the workshops are closely related to the concept of Bildung in which learning objectives...

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