Exploring soft sensors and eTextiles

[gallery] The DIY community and small research studios around the world are continuously pushing the boundaries on the possibilities of eTextiles. Here are some interesting projects and sensors that are being explored:

Bodyinterface introduces various wearable/installation projects done by SIAT soft-circuit research group members in Simon Fraser University as well as projects from the Body Interface course in the same university. Inspired by Hannah Perner-Wilson’s stroke sensor, they're investigating their own which sense when they are touched and stroked. (images)

Hannah Perner-Wilson at Plusea investigates stroke sensors made out of carefully crafted conductive threads:

She is also exploring interesting resistive fabric sensors that can bend and be washed:

And one of my favorite, also from Perner-Wilson, combines craft and technology by knitting a sensor that measures stretch:

If you want to dive in and start doing your own exploration, Lynne Bruning has an informative video that covers the basic materials that you need to start creating and prototyping your own:

Images from bodyinterface.

Cushion controls by Droog Design

[gallery] I love these playful and simple cushion controls created by Didier Hilhorst and Nicholas Zambetti at Droog Design a few years ago. The project consists of different cushions each with its own function: one for the channels, one for the power, one for the volume and so on. The project aims to transform the fights over “who has the remote” into playful cushion fights. Like most of Droog's work, the project is conceptually strong as they change our perspective on the core interaction by re-imagining it and turning it into play.

Continue reading on didierandnicholas.com and droog.com. Images from didierandnicholas.com.

Vital Jacket monitors heart rate

"All sorts of huge machines are used by hospitals to monitor a patient’s vitals, but with the pace in which technology is miniaturizing, there are no real doubts about fabrics becoming the next genuine machines...

We’ve seen wearable technology on a maturing track, and the Vital Jacket is yet another case in point. Combining textiles with innovative medical diagnostic technology, BioDevices has unveiled this wearable vital-signs monitoring system." source

I love how this concept is both functional and aesthetically beautiful. They weren't shy about hiding the sensing materials and circuitry and use it as the main aesthetic element. As a runner who uses a hard-cased heart monitor, I would replace that with this product immediately. It provides freedom of movement and it's gorgeous.

For related postings, The Future of Things has a couple of interesting articles about bio-sensors integrated into clothing and the challenges inventors and designers are facing: