About this project
Turn any EL (Electro-Luminescient) material into a touch sensor with no additional hardware. It's an open prototyping platform for wearable electronics! Open source and Arduino IDE compatible.
There are many different EL materials, including EL paint, EL panels, EL tape, EL wire. They have been integrated into a variety of applications, from motorcycle jackets, to masks, to cars.
LumiLor - "The Whoa Board is an amazing piece of innovative technology. Think of it like a light switch for electroluminescent materials without the pesky switch itself."
A more behind the scenes look.
Wait, be a bit more specific.
All that you need to get started is the Whoa Board, a micro-usb cable, and a piece of EL.
No programming required!
However it is also a fully featured (open source and arduino compatible) prototyping platform optimized for wearable electronics. Follow the development effort with our github repo!
It has a number of programmable hardware pins that can be used for everything from communicating with wireless modules, to listening to a microphone. In particular speaks the following serial protocols: UART, SPI, and I2C.
It can also output keyboard instructions or MIDI over it's micro-usb port. This means that the Whoa board is flexible, and can be used to pass data to everything from a banana to a computer, illuminating EL elements in the process.
It turns EL elements into capacitive sensing elements, a similar technique to cell phone screens. This means that it can measure presence at a distance.
When EL elements are integrated into clothes, these measurements are sensitive enough to detect movement.
What are EL materials?
Electro-luminescient (EL) materials have been in use for over 60 years. They exist in many different forms (wire, paint, panels, tape), and have several advantages over other lighting technologies:
These properties make them well suited for integration into smart clothes, and other wearable electronics projects. They are also great for illuminating complex geometries.
The Whoa Board's patent pending LumiSense technology for the first time makes it possible to turn any of them into a sensor.
This makes it easy to integrate interactive elements into designs that previously could have only been realized by complex and bulky systems.
The Whoa Board is a totally new design tool!
It makes it possible to translate ideas from VR into the headset-less world.
More than that, it radically expands the design possibilities for smart clothes, and we are really excited to see what the community will produce!
Additionally, as we explore new applications of this technology together, we would like to facilitate a conversation which leads us to discover ways to manufacture these new garments sustainably. To this end, we have partnered with the Tripty Project to source fabrics for our higher level rewards.
This article provides a good jumping off point thinking about the current ecological impact of the fashion industry.
Partners: Tripty Project - A sustainable fashion organization based out of Oakland, CA and Bangladesh that develops and manufactures beautiful textiles that are fairly produced and have low carbon footprints.
Follow the Honey - A honey distributor that pushes farmers in the developing world to engage in farming practices that are friendlier to pollinators by creating a market for their honey. Organized under the auspices of #BlackHivesMatter.
Curious Sound Objects - A community art show in Cambridge, MA that provided the creative prompt which kicked off this year long research project into Electro-Luminescient materials.
Technological Development through art, not war.
Colleagues: We would like to thank LumiLor and ILuminate, two other organizations who are actively engaged in exploring the potential of Electroluminecient materials for meeting with us and letting us use their footage.
Hacker-Spaces: This project owes a great debt to the presence of open community spaces which provided access to electronics test benches and expertise. Free of charge.
Team: Atoms - Akivo Vekhter - 35 years ago in Moldova in the USSR, Akivo designed and built oscilloscopes from scratch in his free time because he couldn't get the devices he wanted in a store. Since then, he emigrated to the US, and has spent the past 25 years designing and manufacturing high precision sensors for NASA space suits, aircraft landing gears, and everything in between.
Bits - Josh Vekhter - For almost a decade, Josh has been exploring ways in which interactive visualizations can be used to expand our collective understanding of the world, in fields ranging from math to journalism, from 3d printing to (now) wearable technology. One exploration that has made it's way onto the internet is http://foolzone.com/lets-get-lost/.
Representation - Nicole Hogarty - Artist in Residence
Contributors: Many others enriched this project with their energy and presence through the course of it's development.
In particular, we'd like to thank friends for their (chronological) contributions, specifically: Xenia/Gila - Loom, Josh Gordonson - early excitement, Manuel Schwab - Berlin, Rachel Milito - exploration, Sam Pelts - a car and a jellyfish, Megan Baker - housing, Peter Fedek - VR, Emma Kanter - filming and editing, Esther Shang - polish and direction, Zanzie Addington-White - post production.
Background track, Every Bone - Big History.
We'd also like to thank Dan, Mom, and Grandma for all the support.
If you are a member of the press and need more resources, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Images & Video Downloads
Please feel free to share any of our Kickstarter page materials on social media.
Risks and challenges
We have been developing the Whoa Board for more than a year, and have produced 5 full design iterations - our last run consisted of 17 boards which we have delivered to alpha testers around the world.
As a team, we have decades of experience shipping complex hardware and software projects, and we are confident that the core LumiSense technology will provide a solid platform for discovering all sorts of new interactions.
However, there are several challenges that we must still tackle in order to ship this board:
Component Sourcing: The Whoa board makes use of several somewhat unconventional hardware components. We will be able to ship the first 1000 units quickly using existing stocks, but beyond that, there will be a several month lead time to obtain certain components.
Quality Control: Good QC is a major focus of ours. We plan to hand test the the initial production run in order to arrive at a streamlined testing procedure which we will then implement at a factory for any additional runs that occur.
We are running this kickstarter to get the Whoa board out into the world and to rally a creative community interested in exploring a totally new frontier of wearable technology. Pledge to join us!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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