So we finished sewing the exhibition Versions 1 and 1.2 at 5am this morning and set it up at 9.30am and everything worked wonderfully. We got some first pictures and funny videos to show. Have to download videos as zip files until I find another way to show them. The "design" changed a lot after midnight, thanks to Mika we got rid of the previous collar and exchanged it for a slightly stuffed neoprene one that supports the head and gives a very secure feeling. Pictures of of the final everything will appear in the coming days. The setup turned out really nice. We have beautiful graphics on the wall made by Shizue. The pillows we all made ourselves and we covered the TV stand and bought a cosy carpet >>

We made buttons to "advertise" Massage me and it took us 2 hours to make 100 with a hand machine and they look lovely >>


Today was not so cool. The sewing machine that was working so wonderfully stopped and gave us 4 hours of greef before we gave up on it and decided to bring it in for inspection tomorrow morning first thing. This means that we finished (almost) everything but not the most important, the massage pads themselves. Oh well, we are still in good time. All day Monday to work and then Tuesday morning to set up before the press conference at 10am. The opening isn't until Wednesday 14.30.

What we got done today: Mika did a lot of work and finalized two stand alone arduinos for the Analog Version. We covered the cables and the boxes and made super cool silicone plug covers for the connection to the jacket!!! I made 6 huge pillows with cute orange/grey neoprene tags on them.

I'm growing unhappy with my design of the jackets. There is a list of things that I would like to change and I would really like to continue working on it in future (who knows what I will feel like after the exhibition). I would like the look to be lighter and the materials more intelligent (breathing) and thinner. We got some great samples of textiles used in sportswear from a company called Palmhive in England. I would also like to keep the colours lighter and whither, although the orange/grey kind of turned out okay. I would like to have more controll over the colour combinations, which would mean more materials to experiment with and mainly just more money.

I haven't written anything about the technology or the layout of the buttons so far but this is something I should do soon. Mika will also write about hacking the gamepad and analog input. We would like to write a bit more about our feelings towards this piece of work as an exhibition piece and a product.


Here is the final layout of the buttons on Version 1 and 1.2 which are both optimized for Tekken 2. There will also be an Analog Version optimized for car racing games >>


Today's progress on Version 1. It does not feel like a Saturday night but like the middle of a working week. We are in time and plan to finish tomorrow late late evening. I got a tip today that "life orange" and "warm gray" can be seen as reassuring, calming and life-affirming colours. Nice! >>

This morning I went to the Hauptplatz and tried out the covering for the TV stand at the exhibition space. It fits and looks wrinkled >>

Later on I sewed 4 big pillows for the "lounge" atmosphere. In case I did not mention, we got a HUGE bag of stufing for 20 Euro >>

Tomorrow, Sunday we will work on (and complete):
- Version 1.2
- Analog Version 1
- Analog input with Standalone Atmega8
- Plugs and cable covering
- Way to invisably fasten the PS1 to the ground
- Graphics for flyers containing website and button layout
- Final pillows and cases

We did not get sponsoring for the seating that is why we are making our own cushions (which turned out to be cool) but I still wanted to post a picture of this nice seat, especially for gamers from Zone3 >>



Version 1 is working, though not quite completed, we can say that it works as we imagined. The orange is kind of growing on us and my sewing is improving over time and with the help of juice. Mika is working on a "Doom style" analog version, intended for driving games and the like. In future it would be nice to use the amount of pressure from the analog input as a kind of input of its own - not just left and right but maybe also more pressure meaning a different button. >>

Tomorrow we buy the remaining game controllers to dismatle and make better use of. We discovered the Hama PC-Gamepad Double Action AirGrip to be really nice and clear inside, which helps a lot when reverse engineering. The collar still needs to be decided and sewn on tomorrow and also the bottom and the edges and the casing for the plug and the box and the cables... all tomorrow.


The inside is all pretty but will soon be sewn away into hiding. The iron-on sticky stuff is cool but a hell of a lot of work and so I htink maybe the the second jacket I will make with doubble sided stickytape instead. Somehow I would like to be working on a more thorough basis, a more basic one where we can also create the textiles that incorporate the circuit and so on... But this is not too far of. Atleast we have a starting point to prove our point and the usibility askpect to some extent.

Pictures from work on Massage me Version 1


- Why is the VCC connected back to iteslf?
- Why are the top buttons not working anymore?
- Why does it send multiple random(?) inputs when you press two buttons at once?

Looking at various materials for the collar (Kragen). It should be soft on the outside and stuffed on the inside, the hardest part will be finding a colour that matches this neon orange.

We had a really nice meeting at the keppler uni today with people from the The Department of Soft Matter Physics and it would be really interesting to spend more time figuring out futuristic ways of mapping massage movements to the body and using them as input. And we found out that there are two companies in Linz working together on some interesting projects in the field of future wearable electronics: Plastic Electronic and green-lama.


The neoprene arrived today but
it is kind of (kind of) neon orange! Neon!
So we had a long look at it and re-adjusted and should be pleased to say that we did not let it ruin our day >>

Work continues. Now trying an iron-on sticky layer to attach the conductive fabric to the neoprene with the wire inbetween. This means we are no longer using the 'glatthaut' side of the neoprene but the one laminated (kaschiert) with jursey. It works nicely. So far.

Prototype VI


Working on making the touch-pads thinner and analog input, which will work well with racing games. We have found so far that the fighting games work best, not because you don't need to be as precise (although you often don't) but because the combinations of buttons result in very cool moves, so instead of remembering the combo you can convert to remembering the massage move and you get the same result.
The massage-pads should be connected via a cable to the console. Asthetically and conceptually we prefer this over wireless. So this cable should be easilly connectable and have min. 11 pins. I like this round example >>

Catching up on the work from the past 2 days: It took us one very long day to make Prototype VI but it showed us quite a few things, like that the "button" layout works really well, but that the layering is too thick. Also I made less holes in the foam layer than last time which made the buttons less sensitive. Not a good thing and needs to be changed. But anyways, here is how we made it >>

Testing the massage-pad (despite the beautiful weather), it works fine but still needs to be improved >>


Die Dinge laufen gut und gleichzeitig kompliziert. We have been having some troubble with controllers that sometimes don't work - or is it the Playstation that isn't working? Our modified controllers seem to be working wonderfully, only the layers of neoprene are now somewhat taking away from the skin to skin massage effect. There is too much volume inbetween, the buttons need to become slimmer.

Prototype V


Prototype V is now ready to test tomorrow. We will also check (or solve. Or not) analog input which makes so much sense with the layering that includes the static conductive material. See our flexible-fabric-touchpad instructable. And also, these buttons feel way too much like buttons. They stick out and you can feel the volume of the material inside. This time I worked quickly and attached the wires with doubblesided stickyptape, fanning out the wires and sticking them between the neoprene and the conductive material. They stick well, but for how long?


The muscles in the back could inspire "button" placement >>


A version of massage regions ("buttons") done for testing. Much tighter than the previous version. Still a lot will change. Don't want the wetsuit look >>

prototype IV


Better solution to connecting wire and fabric?? >>


Some instructive illustrations on massage movements. It's not about button pressing >>


Colour values for Massage me:
Grey: #C2BFB8
Orange: #E95F1E

Yesterday we tried to piece together a first working prototype that would allow us to move the buttons around as we wish until we find the right placement. The perfect placement for the best massage. But stickytape isn't going to work for long so today I will quickly try to imrove the method for flexibility. Maybe safety pins or velcro. Conductive velcro would be great. Conductive thread would also be great. If anyone knows where to get any in Europe, that would be a great help! So this is Prototype III_external


Hard decision, deciding (or figuring out) where best to place the areas of massage for which (equivalent) "button". Up, down, left, right, circle, square, triangle, cross. Looking for inspiration from massage on the web I found some massage chairs >>

Heated Massaging Back System. Features: 4 Massage motors, Multiple speed settings for each massage region (neck, shoulders, back, seat), Heat on/off setting...

Halfords Back Massage Cushion features: 2 Independent massage regions, Adjustable massage intensity, Adjustable elasticated securing straps...

Also worth checking out www.massage-me.COM

Here is an interesting post on Freqtric. "Freqtric are game controllers that, via a steel plate on their underside, trickle a small electric current through a player's body. Sensors in the controller spot when this current is disrupted when they are touched by another player." (scroll down) >> BBC article


Maybe use the massage-pad to play games and massage yourself >>


Today, making Prototype III from II. Testing different kinds of inbetween fabrics that will keep the two conductive layers further away from eachother than previously, making the input more stable and prohibiting contact at the wrong times. Also I'm taking apart Prototype II and now integrating the fabric touchpads into Prototype I, which was neoprene, so that we can get a real feel for the end result >>

Yeserday we played Tekken and did not get addicted to gameing but got into thinking about the different ways to input through different kinds of (massage) movements on the back >>

Fabric touchpads integrated in prototypeII. It's little things that demand the most creativity, like how to connect wire to fabric withough creating a "predetermined breaking point" >>

Input is working nicely vai Arduino into Processing >>

Found a nice image for inspiration, a pice of clothing designed by Meg Summs from Cape Town >>


Ideas for some graphics >>


List of things for cosy living room setup:
- 2 beanbags and/or otherwise cushions
- 1 coffee table for information, games...
- 1 TV table for TV ontop and PS1 below
- 1 light grey carpet 3x4 meters
- 2 poted plants
- Pair of shoes at edge of carpet to encourage people to take off their shoes
- wallpaper, fake scene

List of things for Massage me setup:
- PS1
- 3 games
- 2 Massage me controllers
- maybe place to hang/store Massage me controllers
- TV


Last night I tried out the pattern mentioned in the previous post and it fits. Not tightly enough yet. I'll also integrate some fabric touch-pads today. The collar can become much more ellaborate or different. There could be short sleves and also the front can be shaped a whole lot different. Basically it is the good fit arround the surface of the back that is important. Prototype II >>

With prosessing I wrote a silly game application where you just have to use the up, down, left, right controlls to dodge the blobbels. And two extra buttons for changing size. This will for the simple test today and I call it Space Blobbel>>

So far the 'design' of Massage me keeps changing. Visually I think it should turn out to become a mixture of the following pixel image plus the softness of the following 'massaged' representation >>


As for the colours - what about orange, light grey and black >>


After almost a months working apart and busy with other things, we will soon begin to piece our work together and I have this feeling that we will come across all the last minute problems to be dreaded. But then, what would it be without them.
Below two patterns that I will try out for fit, as the first prototype (see below) fits too loosely around the arms and hasn't got enough material up front to close properly. This pattern is old, but I'm hoping it'll have a good basic fit >>

Since the Mediengang exhibition this is the prototype for testing fit and as a base for design. Prototype I >>

It still all looks very plain, my old sewing machines are't good on the neoprene, plus i want to try out the zig-zag stitch on the edges. But it has proved that the material works well. I've been trying to get creative on paper, here are some sketches>>




>> Click here to download a short video <<

Playing around with the wonderful conductive fabric from LessEMF I came across the fact that this works: Two layers of conductive fabric with 1 Ohm and 0.09 Ohm resistance and a layer inbetween with 10^5 Ohm. Applying preassure to the layers causes the electricity (6 Volt) to travel through the middle layer of material and the LED lights up! >>


Massage me catalog banner >>



Pattern research, inspirations >>


Mika's work on touchpad input >>


Now the proud owner of various samples of conductive fabric from LessEMF. The LED lights up really bright, as bright as direct contact. The last picture was taken in the semi-dark to show just how bright >>



Paper pattern for first cut. Waiting for neoprene to arrive but also trying to find some similar material for first prototype - size, stretch and fit-wise. Open >>

Closed >>

If person wearing gamepad were wearing a red top it would look like this >>


How it might look >>

Comparrison to previous >>

Inspired by >>



Thinking about all the motivation and energy that goes to nothing when an involved game player goes about pushing controller buttons on a mission to get to the next level, we wanted to appropriate that excess energy for another task.
Plus, what about the people not playing? Waiting their turn or just not interested. Combining the two, turing the innocent stander by into the massaged and the game player into a masseur seemed like a logical conclusion to both of us.