synapseWear is a wearable device & fashion collection for recording your motion and environmental data to create playful visualizations / sonifications
Small and light the synapseWear wearable device includes 6 sensors to capture your motion and environmental data. You can use it as an attractive air quality monitor or a way to enhance your performance art. The sensors act as mnemonic recorders of your sentient experiences perceiving: C02/TVOC, temperature, humidity, pressure, light, movement (9DOF) and ambient sound levels.
There are two modes for recording/using your data: performance mode; and background mode; both communicate to your mobile phone via a bluetooth device. The synapseWear performance mode lets you send real-time data from the device to a PC via OSC at 10 data readings per second. While the synapseWear background mode captures and stores your environment data for future use.
- CCS811 - Air Quality
- ICM20948 - 9DOF
- ENS210 - Temperature + Humidity
- BM1383 - Pressure
- TSL2572 - Light
- ICS40619 - Sound
- MAX17055 - Fuel + Model gauge
- BLE unit - Simblee (16MHz ARM Cortex-M0, 128kb flash, 24kb RAM)
- Battery - 230 mAh lithium ion polymer (LIPO)
- Size - 60mm x 20mm x 14mm (2.36" x 0.79" x 0.55")
- 1 white LED (which can be controlled from app)
Open Source Open Hardware:
synapseWear is open source. That includes the firmware for the device, the app on your phone and the server software. If you want to check whether we are siphoning data without your permission, you can. If you want to add a feature to the app, implement it and send it to us (or compile and install the app yourself), you can. If you want to make your own server, you can.
You will be able to program for the device in Arduino and update OTA (over the air). We hope synapseWear will be a great learning tool. By open sourcing the app, server side code and providing a device with a small footprint and integrated sensors we hope to raise the bar for wearable research and education.
Once the Kickstarter is funded and underway we will begin releasing code on Github. Here is the link. Primarily we plan to release under the GPL (v3.0).
The synapseWear device is designed to attach to a uniquely designed garment collection featuring a special fabric that has been integrated into the seams. This permits you to place the device wherever you like - on your shoulders, the nape of your neck, hips, legs and so on. If you wish to wear the synapseWear device with your own garments it also comes with a clip that lets you wear it with any garment or accessory.
Currently the garment collection includes t-shirts and pants. There are no electronics integrated in the apparel. We did this on purpose, so if your clothing rips or wears out, you can keep on using your device (and vice versa). The special fabric strips integrated into synapseWear apparel allows you the freedom to place the device where you like on your body.
Are you a dancer creating an interactive performance? No problem.
Going on a run and want to keep track of air quality? Perfect.
Just want to experiment? Definitely.
- T-Shirt fabric is 100% high quality ultra soft cotton manufactured in Fukui, Japan
- T-Shirts are available in black, white, lavender (above) and lime-yellow, sizes are XS, S, M, L, XL (see chart below)
- Pants fabric is 100% performance polyester also manufactured in Fukui, Japan
- Pants are available in black, white and purple, sizes are XS, S, M, L, XL and there will be three leg lengths to choose from (see chart below)
- Pants are available in three types: slim (featured in the video), half (down to your calf), and regular (a straight instead of slim hem)
- The waist is elastic to ensure comfortable fit for a variety of sizes
- Clothing is manufactured in Japan
We are excited to announce that we will collaborate with Japanese brand newneu on the creation of a unique synapseWear patch! The synapseWear device is fully compatible with newneu's bags, and their patches are fully compatible with our garments collection. So you can mix and match beautiful newneu patches (see above) and products with synapseWear! To get an idea of the possibilities check out their online store.
- synapseWear is a device that captures and records the environment(s) we live in (air, light, sound and motion) rich with data that you own. We believe that the future of wearables will be in owning and controlling your personal data.
- synapseWear is a collection of garments that allows you to wear our device in different places for different uses. We believe that wearables can break out of the “wrist/watch gadget paradigm” to include your whole body.
- synapseWear is a visualization (graphics) and sonification (audio) platform for the data you collect. We believe IoT can be presented as so much more than just metrics.
- synapseWear is a tool for a new kind of capture/recording of your day. We believe that wearables (much like the still/video camera and audio recordings) can open up new forms of storytelling and narratives of your everyday.
The synapseWear app features two output modes: data visualization (graphics) and sonification (audio). As you wear the device through the day, the app visualizes the physical data around you in constantly shifting formations.
In approaching the design of the data visualization we focused on the natural world, specifically crystals, for inspiration. Crystals are beautiful and ancient, and come in all shapes and sizes. They can be hidden in rocks or exposed in naked elegance. Crystals are used in jewelry but also in electronics as oscillators for watches and computers.Your crystal visualization will evolve both visually and sonically through daily use. What it looks/sounds like depends on the aggregated data collected from the environments you pass through. By zooming in on individual fragments you are taken into a metric mode allowing a detailed analysis of the data.
You can choose to share your formation which adds you to a constellation of other users that can viewed by zooming and panning in the app. Users are roughly grouped by location (IP address based, not GPS). This is not a social network, it is an artistic visualization of our environments rendered as crystals in formation—like the stars in the sky, moving, changing based on real metrics.
If you prefer to use sensor data for your own creative projects, such as live performances, you can! synapseWear provides the ability to forward your data via OSC to another device/computer or via the Internet into the cloud (yours or ours).
App visualization prototype:
App sonification prototype:
Movement mode: Test A - sounds triggered by sensor values
Movement mode: Test B - BPM generated by sensor values
Meditation mode: Test A - sounds generated by staying still
These demos are based on motion data, but in the future we will also incorporate CO2, humidity, pressure, and so on.
We understand that purchasing clothing online is tricky business. Will you like the fabric? Is it comfortable? Do you look good in it? So we are organizing a popup shop in New York! Visit us to try on synapseWear and make sure you made the right decision.
86 South 8th Street, Brooklyn, NY
August 18 - 20, 2017
12:00 (noon) - 8:00pm (Sunday until 5:00pm)
If you reside in, or will be visiting Tokyo please contact us for a fitting session.
When making hardware, the more you make of it, the cheaper each unit becomes. art and program has funded the project to date, but we need to gather funds for production. In order for synapseWear to be reasonably priced we need to hit a minimum number of pledges. We are also capping the total number of devices manufactured to make sure we don't exceed our ability to deliver in a timely fashion.
Your pledges will also be used to make sure synapseWear is safe. We will submit the device (actually, about 20 devices because they will be destroyed in the process) for comprehensive stress testing, including: extreme heat, extreme vibration, submersion, drop test, nail test, and so on.
Prototyping and Details:
The first prototype of synapseWear was powered by the RFduino. We chose the RFduino because it is Arduino compatible and includes a framework for implementing communication between the RFduino and your mobile. It also has a large footprint which made it easy to rapid prototype in house with the Othermill (side note: both RFduino and Othermill were born on Kickstarter, yay!).
For the final version we will switch the RFduino for its newest sibling, the Simblee. The Simblee also supports updates over the air (OTA) so you will be able to update the device via your app. The Simblee and other tweaks will allow us to miniaturize even further, so the final device will be smaller, lighter and last longer than the current prototype.
There were also other important changes along the way. We started with the BME280, but instead ended up using two separate sensors which allows for greater sensitivity (for example, the BME280 is accurate to +/- 0.5 C, the ENS210 is good for +/- 0.2 C). This increased sensitivity will improve the accuracy of the CCS811 gas sensor. The BM1383 pressure sensor can detect altitude changes up to +/- 20cm which is, well, pretty neat. We will also update the voltage regulation circuitry with chips from Torex for a significantly reduced footprint and longer battery life.
How long the battery lasts depends on how you use the device. In performance mode (for dance or VJing), with all sensors enabled @ 10 readings per second, synapseWear will function for 7 hours. In environment mode the battery will last 3+ days. The app currently supports one device, but in the future we plan to add support for up to 4 devices simultaneously. Charging is done via micro usb (for the final version we may change this to a smaller connector based on your feedback). The app will be released for iOS only. If we see enough enthusiasm for Android we will make an Android version that will forward data from the device to a remote PC via OSC - so let us know when you make your pledge. synapseWear is completely open source so you are free to look at our implementation and port as you like.
Data and Privacy:
We want you to own your data. If you want to store data only on your mobile, there is a setting for that. If you want to upload your data to our cloud, there is a setting for that. If you want to upload your data to your cloud, there is a setting for that. You are free to choose how and where your data is stored. We also do not store, monitor or track your location via GPS. synapseWear includes a microphone, but it is used to detect ambient sound levels (how loud things are around you). The microphone cannot be used to eavesdrop.
We Are Not a Startup
synapseWear is backed and organized by art and program, Inc. (aprg) based in Tokyo. We have been in business for several years undertaking a wide variety of interactive projects (we are a one stop development shop for design minded software and hardware projects). We have revenue unrelated to synapseWear and have funded development to date. When the going gets tough we will be there to maintain forward momentum. We are not doing this to get rich. We are doing this because we enjoy it!
- Creative Core: Alexander Reeder and Valérie Lamontagne
- Hardware + Software: art and program, Inc.
- Design: Tomoki Tachibana, Shed Inc.
- Industrial Design: Toshihiko Sakai, Sakai Design Associate Ltd.
- Fashion Design and Coordination: Mina Maeda, Grosgrain
- Sound Design: LADER Production
- synapseWear Website: Tommy Poirier-Morissette, Atelier oil and sugar
- Photography: Richmond Lam
- Models: Dulcedo
- Video: Ray Lavers
One summer day I found myself in a sports apparel store admiring a pair of purple pants. The fabric was soft like cotton yet solid and durable. I feel in love with those pants and ended up purchasing 4 pairs. I wore them so much that my friends daughter referred to me as the man in purple pants (she couldn’t remember my name). Over the years, one by one, my purple pants wore out beyond repair. I searched for those pants, but their cycle had long passed and neither the color nor fabric were available.
The same thing had had happened to me with t-shirts, and so I started thinking: I know what I want, why don’t I just make it? For the pants I knew the fabric was made by Toray and I knew it was based on Lycra T400. So I reached out to Toray in search of the fabric not really expecting a response. I was pleasantly surprised when they got in touch but soon disappointed when I learned I would have to (not unexpectedly) start from square one and make an original fabric. Creating a new fabric has a minimum order of 5,000 meters. 5 kilometers. Yikes.
Toray was kind enough to introduce me to their top retailer of polyester. A few days later off I went to browse their swatch books. In a nutshell, Toray manufactures the fabrics designed by the textile retailer, and the retailer sells them to fashion brands and fabric stores. So even if I custom ordered a fabric from Toray I would have to go through a textile retailer who would translate what I wanted to the information Toray needs to actually put their looms to work.
Thankfully I came away from that visit with several good options. Not the same as the fabric as I was originally looking for, but close. I ordered samples and started making clothing. You don’t know if you’ve found the right fabric until you wear it for awhile. How breathable is it? How does it wrinkle? How does it stand up after machine washing? How quickly does it dry on a rainy day? From 6 fabrics I narrowed it down to 1 and that is the fabric which we use for our pants today. However, this is only half the story.
In 2008 I created the Butterfly Dress. It is a silk organza dress with light gold linen butterflies embedded onto the surface. The butterflies flutter with the heartbeat of its wearer. It was my first attempt to combine clothing and technology. The project was well received, featured in several books and exhibited widely. Since then I have gone on make several technology enhanced garments.
None of those garments were taken beyond the artwork / prototype phase into production. This left me with an unanswered question: what kind of wearable device or garment would I want that would also be versatile enough to appeal to a larger audience?
Over the years I would occasionally attend Smart Fabrics, now known as WEAR, a conference focusing on the e-textile / wearable industry. It was there I met Valérie Lamontagne, a beautiful mind equally interested in not just functional wearable technology but in making something gorgeous and taking the project beyond the prototype phase into production. So we jumped down the rabbit hole and synapseWear was born.
Valérie Lamontagne :
My first wearable was not born from a need, but rather from a desire to make the impossible. In 2005 I was inspired by a fairy tale by 16th century French author Charles Perreault that I remembered from my childhood called “Peau d’âne” (Donkey Skin). Before that time I had been working in performance art, combining costumes and relational experiences. However, “Peau d’âne” proposed a new kind of relational performance, one which connected the garment to the environment, where the elements performed with the individual. In the fairy tale a young princess requests 3 “impossible” dresses that are made of: the sun, moon, and sky. Inspired by the idea of having a shape/color changing garment that could modulate in connection with environment I iterated 3 couture-inspired dresses that used localized weather information to dynamically modulate the dresses in real-time.
Since then I completed a PhD on the topic of “Performative Wearables: Bodies, Fashion and Technology” (Concordia University, Canada 2017) and launched my company 3lectromode (Montreal, Canada 2010) where I create DIY platforms for wearables that permit users and makers to engage in the process of creating their own wearables. For this purpose we developed “kits” that offer makers (fashion or tech) an opportunity to learn electronics and/or garment making. For example the “Strokes&Dots” collection (2015) was designed so that both garment and electronic patterns are printed directly onto the textile, permitting you to embed the electronics (LilyPad Arduino) via e-textiles techniques and sew your first interactive garment. This paint-by-numbers/Vogue pattern approach to wearables affords a high quality result for a finished garment, in a first step into wearables DIY fabrication.
synapseWear is a natural evolution of my interest in connecting garments with the environment as well as enabling a creative platform for artistic experiences via wearables. Making beautiful wearables that you want to wear remains a key goal.
Meeting Alex was, so to speak, written in the stars, as we both had visions for wearables that we could aesthetically, technically and philosophically embrace. synapseWear is our stardust addition to the constellation of smart garments that populate our spheres! We hope you like it!
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Risks and challenges
There is no sugar coating it: wearable devices are difficult. Not everything will be smooth sailing, but here are some reasons why we feel prepared for our voyage:
• We have been field testing the garments for over a year, and the devices for half a year.
• The synapseWear garment collection has been designed and is ready for production (our manufacturer is set and we have done multiple test runs).
• We have combined 20+ years experience developing wearables and consulting for tech and fashion companies.
• Our industrial designer has 30+ years experience and has produced many mass manufactured products for major brands.
• Our PCB fabrication and assembly partner is set and our prices based on their quotes.
• Parts procurement can have a huge impact on our schedule; we have allowed 3 months in our timeline for delivery and will begin placing orders once our project exceeds its goal.
- (45 days)