What used to be a tedious process has been transformed into a push-ready-to-go procedure all thanks to science and technology. You no longer need to spend so much time on one task because someone went ahead and improved the experience by creating a particular gadget that performs that task. However, over time this becomes boring too, doesn’t it? Don’t you all, at times, wish you could interact with the everyday electronic gadgets in a more intuitive and playful way, something which was fun to do and not so ‘robotic’ so as to speak. This was the inspiration behind a particular design student who is named Yen Chen Chang when he decided to knit a particular smart yarn and then connect it to an Arduino microcontroller. The results were more than just amazing, as you will find out below.
Chen says; ‘I looked into our daily life where these motions take place and re-imagined scenarios where these textile sensing interfaces could change the behaviour patterns of how we use electronic objects.’ Before we get to the fun part of how Chen used this concept, let’s take a look at this particular yarn and understand a bit about it. The yarn being used is conductive and smart owing to the material that it has been created with. The same material was employed when gloves that were touch-friendly were manufactured. The material is made up of 80% polyester and 20% stainless steel. Chen crocheted and then knitted a myriad of objects with this material made yarn and went on to setting these up in order to respond to certain actions; pulling, squeezing and stroking. In simple words; when the yarn is touched, it changed its conductivity and this change is measured by the Arduino microcontroller which then relays the command to gadget ordering it to perform the respective task.
Alright, we are done with the boring part folks and now come the fun part, so are you ready?! Chen knitted a ball and paired it with a juicer (what was he thinking?). How does this assembly work? It is quite simple; you squeeze the ball and the juicer will start squeezing the juice out of orange. The faster you squeeze the ball; the faster your juicer will pump. Chen went on to create a carpet, quite a small patch of it actually, and paired it with a fan. You stroke the patch of carpet and the fan will turn on. Another use by Chen was when he paired the lamp with a knit rope; lamp dims itself when you pull the knit rope.
During these experiments, Chen discovered that objects are better manipulated with knits that are loose as they allow for a more range as compared to the tight knit ropes that come with restricted range and although can be used to switch gadgets on and off can’t really do much more than that.
Although there is as such no commercial use of this whole idea put forward by Chen, but that is not what he is looking for anyway, in his words; ‘when you integrate different sensing technology into today’s electronics, you can make something look totally different.’
So in short, Chen is suggesting that you think out of the box and find fun even in your everyday tasks. Do you agree with Chen? Let us know in the comments section below!