Visibility on a bicycle at night is big news. More than reflective details, the show stoppers and prize winners are the electronic wear-ables. There’s not too many around and none are commercially available. Worse, none of them impressed me in terms of garment design (I don’t want to look like a runway on an air strip). Until I saw this:
That’s Leah Buechley, the designer of the Lilypad – a programmable, washable circuit board designed to be stitched into fabric or paper. It’s based on Arduino technology and the Open Source movement – meaning that the technology is developed and refined collaboratively and in an way that encourages people to try new things without getting too commercial.
The turn signal jacket is an awesome project – but it’s also just scratching the surface of possibilities. Are you really excited about the safety element or the creative element? The fact that it’s DIY electronics or traditional crafting? The genius behind it is in bringing all those things together. I was never excited about soldering circuit boards when I was 14 like a lot of the boys that I was friends with. But as a grown woman (and a fashion designer) with internet access to a technology that means I can make a dress that will glow according to how light or dark it is – seems incredibly fun & awesome.
But because a lot of traditional craft or fashion types are intimidated by having to program something – it’s a lot more fun if you’re working with other people and have access to really smart people who can help you with it so that it stays fun, even if you’re learning (potentially scary) new things. An awesome group of programmers, sewing experts and crafters are making their time available to help anyone with questions or problems for the duration of Lilypad Apparel Project (LAP).
That mean’s you’re free to come up with an amazing idea you might not otherwise feel confident about. Wondering what other people have done since the Lilypad came out it 2007? Here’s Leah’s video montage: