* the modules have evolved to fabrickit, now available for sale!*
In the summer of 2006 Despina built a modular, reconfigurable dress made
of 400 identical white circuit boards. The idea was to experiment with
modular structures and be able to assemble and re-assemble circuits to
come up with new iterations of garments and accessories.
That work eventually led to the modules collection as it stands today.
Despina started working with Zach on the collection in March 2007 as part
of an ongoing experimentation with materials, rapid prototyping and concept
So far we have developed a collection of 5 modules and a flexible, removable
and rechargeable battery system. We have also developed a series of garments
both in order to demonstrate how the modules can be used but also in order
to learn from the process and find ways to improve them. We strongly believe
that it is in the doing, and in the space between engineering, interaction
design and the history of clothing that the most interesting ideas emerge.
We developed our 2 part battery board in order to have a system that afforded
us maximum flexibility, was robust, safe and used connections that belonged
to the vernacular of clothing. We could not find anything that suited
our needs so we ended up making our own.
Our work is mostly informed by our interactions as a team and our desire
to find solutions for problems we have created! In the summer of 2007
we had a costume designer, Andrea Lauer, work with us and we know that
such intersections give us a unique perspective in the way we approach
both engineering and concept development.
In 2007 we had with 3 interaction design interns, Alexander Reeder, Kyveli Vezani
and Rory Nugent who worked with the modules and try to find ways to make
them more user friendly. Alex and Kyveli developed some of their own
applications using the modules and Andrea finished a performative
garment that makes use of 3 of our modules.
So far we have developed modules for sound input and
output, LEDs, and
temperature sensing and display.
We have also designed a unique, rechargeable
battery system that is easy to remove and reattach to garments or
in other applications where washability is important.
All modules share a common interface; with one wire each for power, ground, and communication, they can be easily connected to one another or to an Arduino-based circuit. Multiple modules can communicate with each other over a single ommunication line. Each module has a unique ID, and the infrastructure is already in place to allow them to communicate with eah other.
All modules offer connection points that accomodate a conductive ribbon or thread. Wires, conductive velcro, metal rings, or snaps can also be used to wire the modules into a circuit.
Each module features a programming header; new programs can be loaded with an inexpensive AVR programmer or by a custom made programmer. Programs can be written in Arduino (version 010 or later).
We will continue working on the modules, adding new ones,
as well as improving exisitng code to make it easier for new users to
jump in and develop their own applications. In the next few weeks we will
be making available most of the documentation for the modules (boards
schematics, code etc), and we hope to get feedback that will help us expand
our collection of modules, as well as share it with a larger community
of developers and designers.
We are making our work open and available because we
are interested to see how others will use the modules, get feedback and
see how they can grow. We hope that if others use our work that they share
their insights with us, and credit us when and where appropriate.